Buried in Microsoft's recently released filing to UK regulators, it was hinted that The Elder Scrolls VI may become exclusive to Xbox and PC.
In that filing, Microsoft refers to the fantasy RPG as a "mid-size game," and therefore justifying its potential isolation from PlayStation or Nintendo consoles. That classification puts the title in the same territory as Minecraft, which has remained multiplatform since Microsoft acquired it in 2014.
Should Microsoft lock off The Elder Scrolls VI to Xbox, it would arguably be one of the biggest selling points for the Xbox ecosystem and its Game Pass service. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has had a long lifespan over the past 11 years, and its direct sequel would serve as a strong driver to buy Xboxes, or for PC players to become Game Pass subscribers.
However, Microsoft also used that incoming title as proof that it wouldn't lock off Activision Blizzard's Call of Duty. These games, said the Xbox maker, have mass market appeal and have a mid or lower-value exclusivity potential.
In a graphic showing what games warrant exclusivity, Microsoft said that a game's value "does not have a linear relationship with the popularity of the game."
That may serve as extra justification for Microsoft to take Elder Scrolls exclusive. The franchise may stay partly multiplatform due to frequent re-releases of Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls Online, but that doesn't entirely mean it's popular enough for future installments to come out on other consoles.
Xbox's decision-making for Bethesda games remains unclear
The Elder Scrolls VI has been a common point of discussion in the wake of Microsoft's Bethesda acquisition. In the past, Microsoft said it would determine exclusivity for games developed by its subsidiary on a case-by-case basis.
Thus far, the only Bethesda titles to be a definitive exclusive for Microsoft are 2023's Starfield and Redfall from Arkane Studios. As those titles are wholly new properties, they're exclusive so they land with a specific audience of players.
And since both Ghostwire: Tokyo and Deathloop have both come to Xbox after previously being PlayStation exclusives, Microsoft has officially completed Bethesda's pre-merger obligations with Sony. Meaning that it's now free to dictate what systems get Bethesda's future titles.
That Microsoft thinks The Elder Scrolls VI is a mid-size game is surprising, to say the least. Skyrim is one of the best-selling video games in history, and has enough broader cultural relevance that the franchise more than deserves to remain multiplatform.