In context: Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda was undoubtedly the most significant coup ever pulled off by Xbox. Until the merger, Bethesda games were largely platform-agnostic. In fact, fan-favorite The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is available on eight platforms, including PC, Nintendo Switch, and three generations of PlayStation and Xbox consoles.
Now that Xbox has control of Bethesda, a significant portion of the studio's fanbase is concerned they will never see another title again on their chosen platform---namely the PlayStation. Last week, during Gamescom, Bethesda's Pete Hines and Xbox's Aaron Greenberg talked about the situation.
When posed with the question of whether PS fans would ever see another Bethesda game, Hines was noncommital, saying, "I have no idea how to state this in a way when ... I don't know. I don't know the answer. It doesn't exist. It's not like I know it, and I just don't want to tell you. I don't know."
"If you can start to conceptualize down the road where cloud can go, it starts to not care about what platform."---Bethesda's Pete Hines.
Greenberg was even more evasive, stating, "I want to be careful. I know it's a question people care a lot about. It's also a tricky one for us to answer because, frankly, it can get sensationalized on the internet."
While neither answer was sufficient to say whether Bethesda would ever release another PlayStation title, some of their other responses were more revealing. Hines, who recently apologized to PlayStation 5 owners over Xbox exclusivity, pointed out there are still Bethesda games on Sony's competing consoles.
"There are Xbox brands that exist on other platforms, first and foremost. I think that's important to note. Minecraft didn't just stop existing on anything once Mojang got bought by Xbox," Hines said. "It's a massively played game on all of these other platforms. It's not a, 'Sorry, you're never going to get to play anything by Bethesda again.' Certainly, there are going to be things that you're not going to be able to play [on PlayStation]."
Interestingly, Hines is specifically redirecting the topic to games that already exist on multiple platforms. So to the question of whether PS fans will get to play Bethesda games on their PS5's, the answer seems to be, yes---as long as the game already exists like Minecraft or Skyrim. Indeed, the studio recently announced a Skyrim remaster for next-gen consoles, including the PlayStation 5. But clearly, this is not what was meant by the direct question.
Hines and Greenberg continued, expounding about how game streaming is changing the way we think about platforms. Xbox's vision is to provide gaming on nearly any device as long as you have a controller. The company will still produce consoles, but the focus is shifting to Xbox Game Pass and game streaming.
"If you can start to conceptualize down the road where cloud can go, it starts to not care about what platform. It just says, 'I'm an Xbox Game Pass cloud thing, and you can stream me on a thing if you've got a controller,'" Hines said. "The whole idea of it's either an Xbox thing or it's a PlayStation thing; I'm not saying that's gone away, but that's a little bit too 1990s, 2000. It's a new era of gaming [today] being everywhere."
So the good news for PlayStation fans is that whether Starfield, TESVI, or any other title ever comes to shiny new PS5 or not, they can always subscribe to Game Pass and play them on their other devices. Alternatively, players could just buy or build a decent gaming PC and not worry about it.