Bethesda founder Christopher Weaver has discussed the impact of Microsoft's recent acquisition of Zenimax in a new interview with Inverse (opens in new tab), suggesting that the studio could become a powerful card for Xbox to play in the coming console generation.
"The acquisition of Bungie acted as an important trigger for the success of the early Xbox. Depending upon how soon Bethesda can prime the Microsoft pipeline, I suspect Microsoft is looking at their playbook and looking to repeat one of its 'best moves,'" Weaver says. "If the strategy works, it will be a brilliant counter-move against Sony. Users from around the world will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this deal."
We already know that Bethesda's existing catalog will come to Xbox through Game Pass, but the availability of the studio's upcoming games remains to be seen. All future Bethesda games will also be on Game Pass at launch, which will be a huge boon for Xbox, but outright exclusivity hasn't been confirmed . Microsoft will honor the previously announced PS5 timed exclusivity for Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo, but far-off releases like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 could still skip PS5 in favor of Xbox Series X and Windows 10 PCs.
"I do not think it is any accident that this announcement occurred so close to Sony’s PS5 announcement," Weaver says of the acquisition. "There are only a limited number of proven creators of AAA. What Microsoft owns, Sony cannot get."
Xbox boss Phil Spencer assured fans that Bethesda will operate "semi-independently" following the acquisition, and that the studio's internal structure won't be affected. However, Weaver says he has "yet to meet an executive who does not want to accelerate the sale of a potential product," suggesting Microsoft may want to hurry Bethesda's next big release, if only as an opportunity to make full use of the studio as an asset. That said, he did cushion this theory with the belief that "I have to believe Microsoft execs will be responsive to Bethesda's input."
Weaver founded Bethesda in 1986 and Zenimax in 1999, but left both companies in 2002. By 2007, while he was still a major shareholder at Zenimax, he wasn't involved with the company in any capacity. He says he now owns only a small number of Zenimax stocks, and has since left the games industry entirely to work in academia. Nevertheless, as the founder of both Bethesda and Zenimax as well as one of the top-ranking executives from the companies' early days, his insights are relevant and valuable.
Spencer says Bethesda has an "incredibly exciting" lineup of unannounced games waiting in the wings.