Microsoft Secured Starfield from PlayStation after Acquiring ZeniMax

At least in part, Microsoft’s purchase of ZeniMax Media was driven by the company’s desire to get Starfield for Xbox and keep it away from Sony. At the FTC hearing to temporarily halt Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Xbox CEO Phil Spencer said this.

Spencer asserted that Sony Interactive Entertainment and other rivals bribed developers to keep their games off of the Xbox platform. He mentioned the recently released Final Fantasy 16 as an example. According to Spencer, Sony has an agreement with Bethesda Softworks to prevent the Xbox One version of Ghostwire: Tokyo and Deathloop and was in discussions to do the same with Starfield. In September of 2020, rumors circulated that Sony was in talks to secure a limited-time exclusive for Starfield.

Starfield Gameplay | Xbox

“ZeniMax is a great example,” Spencer said. “When we acquired ZeniMax, one of the impetus for that was that Sony had done a deal for Deathloop and Ghostwire and pay, effectively, Bethesda to not ship those games on Xbox.”

Spencer elaborated that Microsoft had to “secure ownership” of ZeniMax and Starfield in order to maintain its current rate of new Xbox titles. As a third-place console, “we can’t be in a position where we fall further behind on our content ownership,” he said.

Microsoft’s Deal on ZeniMax

In March 2021, Microsoft officially closed on its $7.5 million purchase of ZeniMax, which had been announced in September 2020. Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo were both PlayStation exclusives following Microsoft’s purchase, however, Deathloop made its way to the Xbox Series X in September 2022. Starfield will launch exclusively for Xbox and Windows PC on September 6. On Thursday, Bethesda’s head of publishing, Pete Hines, called Starfield “irresponsibly large,” and he added that porting it to other console platforms would have delayed the game.

“As someone who has been playing it a lot and sees all this stuff to do,” Hines said, “there’s no question in my mind that being able to focus on fewer platforms to support, hardware to support, has been a big benefit to that team.”

Starfield Locked at 30 FPS on Xbox Series X|S | Bethesda SoftWorks

On Friday, Spencer joined Xbox’s senior finance director Jamie Lawver on the stand for the FTC hearing. For reasons of privacy, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley had the courtroom closed during all of Lawver’s testimony. On Friday, Sony’s Jim Ryan will give a taped deposition and Google Stadia’s Dov Zimring will testify. With the help of Judge Corley, the FTC hopes to delay Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Depending on her verdict, the deal may be put on hold while the FTC investigates.


Farhan Ali

Farhan is a passionate writer with an undying love for games, PC hardware, and technology. With nearly 5 years of experience in blogging and over 14 years of experience in gaming, this is what he loves and does best.