The last generation of consoles saw Sony reap huge rewards from its exclusive first-party games like God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Spider-Man. Perhaps in response, last year saw Microsoft begin the process of acquiring Bethesda/ZeniMax, the studio most famous for developing The Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises.
This had led many fans to speculate that Bethesda's highly anticipated upcoming game The Elder Scrolls 6 could be an Xbox exclusive. Microsoft has confirmed that at least some upcoming Bethesda games will be exclusives, so it is certainly possible. There are reasons for and against making The Elder Scrolls 6 an Xbox exclusive from the perspectives of Microsoft, Bethesda, and fans of the franchise.
From Microsoft's perspective, the case for making The Elder Scrolls an Xbox exclusive is clear. Sony's PlayStation exclusives like 2018's God of War, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Marvel's Spider-Man on PS4 were among its fastest-selling games. With the PlayStation 5 still outselling the Xbox Series X/S, it's possible that those numbers are at least partially influenced by expectations that Sony has access to more interesting IPs that players can't find anywhere else.
By working closely with Microsoft, it's possible that The Elder Scrolls 6 could gain insight into some of the other RPGs being developed by Microsoft-owned studios. Obsidian Entertainment is currently working on a first-person fantasy RPG titled Avowed, which appears to be taking aim at the gap in the market left by the long wait for the next Elder Scrolls game. An exclusivity deal could certainly see Bethesda gain access to information about some of the other projects under the Microsoft umbrella, potentially inspiring The Elder Scrolls 6 prior to its release.
Based on decisions made by Sony over the last year, it's also possible that an Xbox exclusive version of The Elder Scrolls 6 would not remain exclusive forever. Despite originally being a PlayStation exclusive, Sony shocked fans in 2020 by porting Horizon Zero Dawn to PC. Rumors suggest that 2018's God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, Bloodborne, and The Uncharted Collection could all also see PC ports in the not-too-distant future. If Microsoft makes the same moves with its exclusives, The Elder Scrolls 6 could be a limited-time exclusive that eventually comes to PC. However, there are some huge downsides to the next Elder Scrolls game being an Xbox exclusive.
The Elder Scrolls games are known for their modding communities, which have kept games like Skyrim, Fallout 3, and even The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind alive years after their initial releases. While it is possible to mod some Bethesda games on Xbox, it's likely that making the next Elder Scrolls game an Xbox exclusive would be hugely damaging to the development of a strong mod community early on.
The release of the Creation Kit for Skyrim on PC made modding far more accessible than it had been in previous years, allowing players to create highly customized experiences. Some mods, like the Skyrim survival mod "Frostfall," were hugely successful and are considered by many fans to be necessary additions to the game. Other mods greatly extend the lifespan of Bethesda games, such as Fallout Character Overhaul for Fallout: New Vegas, which greatly improves on the dated character models seen in the game's original 2010 release.
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