When Microsoft spent a frankly absurd NZ$100 billion on Activision Blizzard, one of the justifications from analysts was that the company would at least get some tasty exclusives. That would drive Xbox hardware sales and Game Pass subscriptions — even if it had to pinky-swear not to keep Call of Duty to itself to satisfy regulators.
But as the PlayStation 5 sales continue to leave the Xbox Series X and S in the dust, it looks like Microsoft is considering revisiting this principal. Making games is big business, and the company is leaving a whole lot of PlayStation players behind by not selling to them.
It’s been long rumored that Hi-Fi Rush and Sea of Thieves might come to Nintendo Switch, but then Nintendo has always been treated as oddly non-threatening by both Microsoft and Sony. What’s more of a surprise is the news from Xbox Era that Microsoft is planning on bringing Starfield — Bethesda’s first huge game since being acquired — to PlayStation 5 later this year.
The Verge builds on this, with a report that the company is also planning on making the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Great Circle available on PS5 too.
It’s hard to overstate how sheepish Microsoft must have sounded as it requested the extra PS5 dev kits that Xbox Era says it’s been forced to order — especially when the company previously hinted that it would rather like having exclusives thankyouverymuch.
In theory, this makes sense for Microsoft. Triple-A exclusives that can run into nine-figure development costs are hard to recoup — especially when you run a subscription-based model like Game Pass. Selling to the 50 million+ PS5 owners would certainly help make big-budget games less of a gamble.
But the company should also be wary of its loyal fans who bought Xbox Series X and S consoles under the impression that this would be the only way to play Bethesda and Activision titles. If it turns out the PS5 gets them too, without Xbox gamers getting PlayStation exclusives like Spider-Man, God of War and Horizon in return, then it looks like a raw deal.
This is all a rumour for now of course. And even if Microsoft does release Starfield on PS5, it may turn out that the sales aren’t enough for the company to keep doing it for every new release. Nonetheless, Sony executives will be delighted.