"You're not worrying about 'how does it work on this box versus how does it work on that box.' We're not making it on that box, so it just needs to run as well as possible on this one and on a PC. Narrow focus always helps."
- Bethesda global marketing and comms SVP Pete Hines talks about the upside of console exclusivity.
The potential for Xbox exclusive Bethesda games was one of the first questions on many peoples' minds when Xbox announced its $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda last year, and during E3 2021 we finally started to see how those deals are shaking out in practice.
For instance, and as suggested by Xbox execs earlier in the year, Bethesda's existing exclusivity deals will see the Xbox-owned company's next release, the Arkane-developed Deathloop, launch with timed exclusivity on PlayStation while its own long-awaited new IP Starfield will only release for Xbox and PC.
Bethesda's acquisition and the impact it had on the studio's in-development projects came up during a recent GameSpot interview with Pete Hines, Bethesda's SVP of global marketing and comms. In it, Hines shared a genuine apology for Bethesda fans on PlayStation that might feel betrayed by Starfield's recently revealed exclusivity, but explains that, on the development side, exclusivity is often a boon.
Hines notes that, at least for Starfield, exclusivity wasn't something they considered during development until the Xbox deal went through.
"What is the impact 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," says Hines. "You're not worrying about 'how does it work on this box versus how does it work on that box.'"
"We're not making it on that box, so it just needs to run as well as possible on this one and on a PC," says Hines. "Narrow focus always helps."
However, Hines adds that the "same is true for a game like Deathloop. When we decided to do a partnership with Sony on Deathloop and that game became exclusive to that platform, that development got more streamlined because we said 'PS5 and PC. That's what we're focusing on.' I think in that way it does free up the developers a little bit."
"When you have fewer [platforms], it's going to go a little bit better," says Hines.
Hines' longer interview with GameSpot's Tamoor Hussain touches on other worthwhile topics like Xbox Game Pass and the shifts within Bethesda surrounding the big acquisition. Interestingly, Hines also talks briefly about the potential reach an Xbox exclusive game has, despite not launching on the other major consoles.
He calls out the importance of thinking of Xbox as an ecosystem rather than a single platform, and references Xbox head Phil Spencer's recently teased plans to leverage cloud-based game streaming as a way to bring Xbox games to players that might not have the absolute latest hardware. Check those comments from Hines and more in the full GameSpot video here.