Today, September 21, marks the first anniversary of Microsoft’s announcement of the purchase of Bethesda. A bombshell news that nobody expected, nobody saw coming but that shook the foundations of the industry. A shock that even today continues to kick its tail and that brought with it rivers and rivers of ink.
A news that we cover in this house with emotion. Not surprisingly, we are talking about a historic union. One of the largest development companies, with some of the most recognized and important IPs in the industry, was joining the Xbox first party team. Sagas like Doom, Fallout or Wolfenstein are now an intrinsic part of the console and the Microsoft family. And today, on the first anniversary, we want to remember how this path has been, this return to the sun of both companies together.
From the announcement to the official purchase
As we said at the beginning of this article, today marks one year since the announcement of the acquisition. Rather, of the purchase intention, since the official purchase was confirmed months later. Specifically, it was in March 2021 when the purchase was made official by the relevant authorities. That March 6 was the day on which a historic agreement was concluded, but it was not the first moment. All of this started at 3:00 p.m. on September 21, 2020, an hour at which those of Redmond have accustomed us to throwing certain bombings in the form of an official statement on Xbox Wire. From the introduction of Xbox Series S to the acquisition of Bethesda.
From that moment, rivers of ink began to flow over the agreement. There were those who spoke of monopoly, of disloyalty on the part of Bethesda to join his way with Microsoft. But especially, the debate was on the exclusivity or not of their future games. A debate fueled by the silence of Phil Spencer, Aaron Greenberg, Peter Hines and other directors of both companies, who with their silence and ambiguity did not make it clear what would happen to the new projects of the different Bethesda studios.
The only thing that was clear is that, as with other acquisitions, Microsoft would respect existing contracts before the purchase. That is, games like Deathloop or Ghostwire would continue to be temporary PS5 exclusives, direct competition from the Xbox Series. But what about games already announced, like Starfield or The Elder Scrolls VI? Much was said at the time on this subject. Yes, temporary, total exclusives, simultaneous launch on all platforms … All with valid arguments, but without a palpable reality behind it.
Meanwhile, Bethesda announced new future projects, such as an unexpected Indiana Jones developed by Machinegames and sponsored by Todd Howard, which further increased the debate. And in the background, the silence of all the authorized voices that could settle the debate. In one sense or another, but the silence is what predicted that something important was brewing …
E3 2021, the turning point
… And E3 2021 arrived. The Los Angeles fair was back after a year of stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it did so with a conference that was already a declaration of intent: Xbox + Bethesda Game Showcase. Microsoft had decided to call its conference after both companies, which augured a good show and, perhaps, the solution to the debate of the future of games. And those in Redmond did not disappoint.
Not only did they give the first announcement to Starfield, which showed its first official in-game images, but also confirmed that the game would be exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem (consoles, PC and mobiles with xCloud). A declaration of intent and that settled the matter at once. Also, they didn’t just say it with a small mouth or a small sign. No, in plain sight, big and loud, Sarah Bond, Xbox’s chief content officer, confirmed.
A blow of effect, not only to confirm what seemed like evidence, but also because it was the first new IP from the TES or Fallout developers in 25. But it was not the only ace up our sleeve they had prepared for us. And no, we are not talking about Halo Infinite or Forza Horizon 5.
Phil Spencer came to the fore to close the show with a full-blown “one more thing”. And what they had saved us as final firework was Redfall, a new IP, never seen before, developed by Arkane Austin, another of Bethesda’s developers. And, as it was seen at the end of the trailer, also an “Xbox exclusive”. Needless to say more. Those red letters under the game art were clear enough. A direct answer to those who still thought that Bethesda games would come out on other platforms. A perfect closing to the conference, a declaration of intent and a promise: now the real good begins.
And at the moment we have not had more chapters in this story than today is the year. But surely the last line or the last debate about their relationship has not been written yet. There are still clubs to play, like Indiana Jones. But, given the precedents, we just have to wait for the right moment.
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