The Xbox Series S/X's relatively thin library of exclusive titles is about to get bigger with the addition of the MachineGames Indiana Jones game.
The studio, which is famed for its illustrious work on the modern Wolfenstein series, has spent the past couple of years hard at work on a game set in the hat-tipping, whip-cracking world of Indiana Jones. But, until now, we didn't know if the game was going to be exclusive to the Xbox Series S/X or if it will be available on the PlayStation 5 as well.
Now, Bethesda's Head of Publishing, Pete Hines, during the ongoing court trial involving the Federal Trade Commission and Microsoft, has confirmed that the game, which was initially slated for multiplatform release under a signed agreement with Disney, had its plans amended following Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax, Bethesda's parent company.
FTC lawyer questioning Bethesda's Pete Hines confirms that Disney had a deal for an Indiana Jones game that'd be for multiple consoles. Hines confirms. FTC says deal was amended post-acquisition to be Xbox only for consoles.
— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) June 22, 2023
This decision adheres to the suggestion from Xbox head Phil Spencer, urging Bethesda to consider title exclusivity on a case-by-case basis. Hines cited that the move towards exclusivity was rooted in "reducing risk and trying to get a degree of clarity."
Working with a licensor, such as Disney, invariably adds layers of complexity to the game development process, including feedback, scheduling, and adherence to a definitive release window.
Yet, the decision to tread the path of exclusivity seems to be more than just an effort to simplify the development process. Microsoft's philosophy, as explained by Hines, seeks to streamline the developmental phase by splitting resources across fewer platforms. Such a lean approach reduces the time and resources spent on ensuring compatibility across multiple consoles and allows developers to hone their craft for a specific hardware, driving up the quality of the final product.
It's the same reasoning that Nintendo uses for its biggest games, such as The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and pretty much why Square Enix made Final Fantasy 16 exclusive to the PlayStation 5. The last we heard, both games are doing well, with the latter up for, at the very least, a GOTY nomination later this year although the former is likely to run away with the award anyway.
But, still, the point is, focusing on a single platform for a big title works wonders as far as the level of detail and polish goes.
Indeed, Hines suggested that the approach's benefits have already been witnessed in other titles under Bethesda and its expansive umbrella. For instance, the highly-anticipated sci-fi RPG, Starfield, would not be on track for its intended release date if it had to cater to multiple consoles.
The choice of exclusivity extends beyond operational efficiency and enters the realm of business strategy, as evidenced by the Indiana Jones game's expected availability on Xbox Game Pass from day one. This move not only entices gamers to be a subscriber to Microsoft's subscription service but also strengthens the Xbox ecosystem by enriching its pool of exclusive offerings.
However, this shift in strategy does not signal an end to Bethesda's relations with PlayStation. The company has honored prior exclusivity agreements post the Microsoft acquisition, like Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo, which were timed console exclusives on PS5. Yet, the recent trend of exclusivity - with games like Redfall, Starfield, and now the Indiana Jones game - emphasizes the dynamic shifts in the gaming industry.
What's interesting now is if PlayStation will use this new information to underscore the possibility that Call of Duty might eventually become exclusive to the Xbox Series S/X.