Another week, another dump of documents from the FTC v. Microsoft case. This time a reveal may have a direct impact on players in both the PlayStation and Xbox ecosystems, even if it appears to be sayingwhat many long suspected: Elder Scrolls 6 will skip PlayStation and be an Xbox exclusive.
With the caveat that plans could still change, the document shows a bunch of acquired and future franchises from the Xbox Bethesda deal, and how it handled exclusivity under its new Microsoft overlords.
Deathloop and Ghostwire released on PlayStation, not Xbox immediately, because of existing Bethesda deals. Fallout 76 and Elder Scrolls Online are large scale multiplayer games that were multi-platform before, and would stay multi-platform in order not to shatter those playerbases or take something existing away from PlayStation players.
But then we get to the post-acquisition Bethesda releases. That begins with Redfall, a critical disaster that I don’t think Sony cared about missing. And Starfield, which appears to be a sizable overall hit. Both were exclusive, with the common thread being that they were not existing IPs, and Redfall was only sort of multiplayer with its co-op play, but not as a competitive game or an MMO.
Then we arrive at Elder Scrolls 6, which is an existing IP but not multiplayer. And it is listed as being released in 2026 or later, and not for PlayStation, only Xbox or PC. Publicly, Phil Spencer testified that the decision had not been made about ES6 yet, and while that may be true, this chart shows that at least early thinking is that yes, it would be kept off PlayStation.
I wrote recently that it was not impossible for Microsoft to release Elder Scrolls 6 on PlayStation, given some benefits that could come from that. It could keep ES6 as an attractive Game Pass addition while charging tens of millions of PlayStation players $70 for it. It would also signal flexibility in terms of this whole acquisition, and future ones. But I also said much of it would depend on Starfield, as if that games exclusivity provided big surges in Game Pass subscriptions, console sales or even just general sentiment about Xbox’s exclusive quality, that would factor into the ES6 decision as well. And it being exclusive was still always the most likely option.
Again, Microsoft’s justification here is that it’s not taking some existing cross-platform game away from PlayStation here, but it is, as a whole, taking away a long-running multiplatform series. Though it believes that’s a different thing entirely. We’ll see what becomes of this and if we’ll get any further statements about it.