There has been speculation running rampant on the internet over Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax/Bethesda over whether their games will become Xbox exclusives.
This speculation has even made it to the memes:
But I don’t believe Xbox will be making these games Xbox exclusive, and I’ll explain why.
Microsoft is the master of Software as a Service
You are probably aware that Microsoft made Office. In actual fact this is a bunch of different pieces of software, some Microsoft bought and brought into the Office family. In the beginning this was a box you would buy from a shop and it was quite expensive – in the UK I remember seeing Microsoft Office for £100+.
But some years ago they transformed their Office offering into a service, and Office 365 was born.
Why am I telling you this? Because Office 365 has 200 million subscribers and is a major revenue earner for Microsoft.
Office 365 earns Microsoft billions every month.
Xbox Game Pass is Software as a Service
Xbox Game Pass currently has 15 million subscribers. A lot, yes, but there’s room to grow.
First the pass was Xbox only, and then PC was brought into the family. And then XCloud brings these games to android devices.
But there are still two major ecosystems the Game Pass could be a part of – Playstation and Nintendo.
So the question is: Would Xbox want to expand its game pass onto other platforms thereby increasing its subscriber count, or restrict this?
The future is likely to be console-less.
Not right now, of course, and probably not in ten years time. But eventually the world’s internet (namely America’s) will be good enough to fully stream 4k/8k games without any lag or stuttering. And with no data caps, of course.
It is my opinion that when that time comes we will see a massive shift from hardware-based gaming to cloud-based.
Why pay several hundred pounds for a console, or over one thousand pounds for a PC, when you could simply pay £15 a month and stream everything to your TV?
Microsoft is looking to the future. Not the near-future, but rather 10/20/30 years+. And that future for Microsoft is owning the biggest gaming Software as a Service offering in the world.
Bethesda games will not become Xbox exclusives
Making Bethesda’s games Xbox exclusives would take the Game Pass in the opposite direction.
Microsoft wants more subscribers, not less, and limiting the audience to their games isn’t the way to achieve this.
It would not surprise me if at some point Xbox Game Pass games could be streamed onto Playstations, allowing Playstation owners to subscribe to and make use of the pass.