Xbox has no exclusi… Wait, what was that?
Microsoft has announced the purchase of Zenimax Media, bringing some seriously heavy hitters into their fold.
Compared to a few short years ago, Microsoft now has some incredible talent within its Xbox Game Studios division. A massive 23 studios now fall under the Xbox Game Studios banner, representing some of the finest talent in the industry. This fits their goal of releasing a first-party studio title on to Game Pass each month once the development cycles begin to even out.
Highlighting the hugely differing strategy between the two rival console manufacturers, Microsoft is likely to still release the majority of these Zenimax games multi-platform, including on PS4/5, though they are said to be assessing exclusivity deals on a case-by-case basis.
Existing timed-exclusivity deals for games like Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo will be remaining in place (in favour of PS5), but it remains to be seen whether Microsoft will adopt a similar tactic in a future retaliation. Personally, I don’t see it happening. Microsoft and Sony have vastly different strategies. Sony is going big on exclusives and console sales as its metric of success, while Xbox is concentrating on multi-platform engagement and attach rates for its services.
While it could be argued that making these games exclusive would bring more players to the Xbox ecosystem, that is no longer MS’ priority, instead they want to put the games in the hands of as many players as possible. Depending on the level of your cynicism, this is either a hugely pro-consumer move, or a capitalistic desire to make as much money as possible from these investments. Either way, everybody wins.
All of these games, of course, will be coming day one to Game Pass. This represents incredible value. Playing just two or three of the AAA titles in a year more than covers the cost of the subscription.
In just five months, Game Pass subscriptions have risen from 10 million to over 15 million. With all of the Zenimax Media games coming to Game Pass, plus potentially some of the biggest current games from the exisiting Bethesda and other Zenimax Media devs, I can see this number growing exponentially with the launch of the new consoles.
Even without exclusivity, having all the titles available for a relatively low subscription is likely to tempt many customers to the Big Black Behemoth that is the Series X, while the Series S is set to fill in the gap for the budget-conscious buyers looking for a gift for kids this Christmas. Indeed, we’ve seen a lot of die-hard PlayStation fans announcing their intent to pick up an Xbox Series S in addition to the Sony console.
Would you rather pay £11 a month for Game Pass Ultimate, or pay £70 for each game on the rival platform? It’s a huge statement of intent from Microsoft, and that has just made the upcoming generation far more interesting. With games like Doom, Elder Scrolls, Fallout and many more now in Microsoft’s wheelhouse, Xbox has a lot going for it.