Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has confirmed that Bethesda will continue to run semi-independently after the company’s acquisition by Microsoft.
Speaking to CNET, Spencer made clear that, while Bethesda games will adopt some of Xbox’s new practices – including launching into Xbox Game Pass and becoming playable through game streaming – the company will retain some of the autonomy that resulted into some of the biggest games of all time: “It is about the culture of those teams,” Spencer explained. “They’re not about becoming us.”
The specifics here aren’t clear, but it seems likely that that Microsoft will allow for Bethesda to retain the development culture at its studios, as well as the existing connections between individual studios and the wider Bethesda Softworks organisation.
This tallies with previous comments from Bethesda SVP of global marketing Pete Hines, who said, “We’re still working on the same games we were yesterday, made by the same studios we’ve worked with for years, and those games will be published by us.”
The implication here may be that, while Bethesda’s 8 studios are now owned by Microsoft, they may not become a part of the formal Xbox Game Studios group (the listed publisher for Microsoft’s other owned studios). Apart from a difference in development oversight, this could also have some effect on whether Bethesda games become Xbox exclusives – it may be that Bethesda is able to choose to continue releasing games across all platforms.
There’s much still to learn about Bethesda’s status as a Microsoft company after the planned acquisition goes through in the second half of 2021, but here are the 5 biggest takeaways from the move.