Given Starfield, Bethesda’s upcoming science fiction adventure, was first unveiled two years before Microsoft announced its intention to purchase Bethesda and its parent company ZeniMax Media, some were hopeful that the game could still find its way onto PlayStation consoles.
That hope seems to have been extinguished, if the words of GamesBeat journalist Jeff Grubb are correct. “Starfield is exclusive to Xbox and PC. Period,” he tweeted (opens in new tab). “This is me confirming that.”
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If you’ve been lucky enough to find a PS5 restock and also happen to love Bethesda games like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, this doesn’t sound great. And while there is such a thing as a timed exclusive where games emerge on other formats at a later date (this actually includes an upcoming Bethesda published PS5 title: Deathloop), the use of the word “period” after Grubb’s statement doesn’t sound particularly encouraging for Starfield’s prospects.
On one level, this isn’t hugely surprising. You don’t spend $7.5 billion on a company only to share its products with your arch rival, after all. On the other, if years of work had already gone into a version for PS4 and PS5 before Microsoft’s plans were known, it seems a bit wasteful to throw away millions of dollars worth of potential sales. Plus, Microsoft continues to support Minecraft on PlayStation, after spending $2.5 billion on the game back in 2014, so there is some kind of precedent here.
But it's been clear for some time that exclusivity was the direction Microsoft was leaning towards with Bethesda. Eight months ago, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that while titles would be examined on a “case-by-case basis," exclusivity would be part of the company’s plans. “We want the Xbox ecosystem to absolutely be the best place to play, and we think game availability is absolutely part of that,” he said.
After the purchase was approved in March, Spencer made the stance even clearer. “Xbox consoles, PC, and Game Pass will be the best place to experience new Bethesda games, including some new titles in the future that will be exclusive to Xbox and PC players,” he said.
So that's all a good reason to seek out an Xbox Series X and try and find a promising Xbox Series X restock. Though the flagship Xbox is a stellar games console regardless of Starfield and makes for the best platform to lay Xbox games old and new.
Of course, depending on how well Xbox Game Pass streaming works in the long run, PlayStation owners may be able to temporarily subscribe and get their Starfield fix delivered remotely to a phone or tablet. Alternatively, the Xbox Series S makes a tempting secondary console for those who have already spent big on a PS5, but can’t live without their expansive Bethesda adventures.
Starfield is still a game that’s shrouded in mystery, but we may not have long to wait before it’s fleshed out a bit. Earlier this week, concept art of the game was leaked on Reddit, before being promptly deleted, suggesting that a 2021 release date isn’t impossible. Watch this space.