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Could some of Microsoft's biggest first-party releases eventually land on rival hardware?

Chris Kerr

February 5, 2024

3 Min Read
Key artwork for Indiana Jones and The Great Circle
Image via Microsoft / Bethesda

At a Glance

  • Anonymous sources have told The Verge and XboxEra that Microsoft could allow major first-party releases onto rival platforms.
  • But it's also claimed that not everyone within the company is sold on the idea of Xbox Game Studios going multi-platform.

Update (2/5/24): In a statement on Twitter, Xbox head Phil Spencer revealed the company is planning to reveal a "business update" sometime next week.

While he didn't address the recent reports either way, he said it would be there where more details about "our vision for the future of Xbox" would be laid bare.

At time of writing, the when for said event has yet to be revealed.

Original story: A slate of high-profile Xbox exclusives could be heading to PlayStation 5.

That's according to separate reports from The Verge and XboxEra, which indicate Microsoft is in the process of reworking its exclusivity plans to bring Indiana Jones and The Great Circle and Starfield to at least one rival platform.

People familiar with those plans told The Verge that Microsoft is mulling over the prospect of turning some Xbox Game Studios projects into multi-platform titles.

In the case of Indiana Jones, which played a starring role in the recent Xbox Developer Direct, it's claimed the title will launch exclusively on Xbox consoles before eventually debuting on PS5 a few months later.

Bethesda and developer MachineGames are reportedly targeting a December 2024 launch, meaning the purported PS5 version could land during the first half of 2025.

Microsoft's multi-platform plans are apparently still very much a work-in-progress, and it's entirely possible that Microsoft could still change tact. That said, Game File recently heard that Microsoft could also bring Hi-Fi Rush and Sea of Thieves to rival consoles.

XboxEra believes those rumors hold water. Anonymous sources told the outlet that Microsoft could launch Starfield on PlayStation 5 after the title's first piece of DLC, Shattered Space, has rolled out.

Those sources added that Microsoft has recently invested in additional PlayStation 5 dev kits with a view to bringing Bethesda's sci-fi adventure to Sony's hefty home console. It's claimed Microsoft's leadership team has been debating the pros and cons of going multi-platform with some titles, and that not everybody inside the company is sold on the tactic.

Is Microsoft preparing to share with its biggest rival?

Microsoft has frequently reiterated its commitment to delivering exclusives through its first-party studios, but the company has also proven it's capable of sharing its toys.

Minecraft, one of Xbox Game Studios' flagship brands, remains available on pretty much every platform under the sun–including Nintendo Switch and PlayStation–despite becoming a first-party project in 2014 after Microsoft purchased developer Mojang for $2.5 billion.

Prior to completing its acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft also penned multiple agreements with Nintendo and Sony to guarantee that Call of Duty will remain available on their respective platforms for the foreseeable future.

Of course, you can argue those titles were multi-platform before Microsoft swooped in, so it made sense for the company to support the existing status quo to avoid upsetting players and preserve revenue streams.

Speaking in 2021, Xbox boss Phil Spencer told fans the company would continue supporting its games on other platforms, but that it also hoped to launch "great exclusive games" on its own hardware.

"If you're an Xbox customer the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you, that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists. That's our goal. That's why we're doing this. That's the root of this partnership that we're building," said Spencer in the aftermath of Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda.  

Under Microsoft, Bethesda was reportedly told to scrap a PS5 version of Indiana Jones and prior to that apologized for ditching plans to bring Starfield to PS5. Bethesda's former global marketing and comms SVP Pete Hines defended those decisions by espousing the benefits of developing an Xbox exclusive, suggesting the move ultimately helped streamline production.

"What is the impact [of going exclusive] on development? I'm here to tell you, and any dev will tell you this, you go to fewer platforms and your development gets more streamlined," said Hines in 2021. "You're not worrying about 'how does it work on this box versus how does it work on that box.'"

It now appears Bethesda is once again developing for PlayStation 5. Game Developer has reached out to Microsoft for comment.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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