Microsoft’s gaming division appears to be considering a significant shift in its strategy when it comes to major exclusives. Rumors have been swirling for a while that the company is bringing Hi-Fi Rush, a well-received game from last year, and Sea of Thieves to Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5. But the company is said to be bringing some of its blockbuster Xbox exclusives to PS5 as well, which would mark a monumental change in policy.
Over the weekend, XboxEra reported that Microsoft will bring Bethesda’s Starfield (its tentpole game for 2023) to PS5 later this year, sometime after the release of the Shattered Space expansion. The report suggests that Microsoft has acquired more PS5 dev kits to help port its games to Sony’s console.
MachineGames’ Indiana Jones and the Great Circle could be bound for PlayStation 5 as well. According to The Verge, the action-adventure game is slated to hit Sony’s platform just a few months after it debuts on PC, Xbox and Game Pass later this year.
Amid the Federal Trade Commission’s failed attempt to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, then-Bethesda vice president Pete Hines confirmed in court last year that Indiana Jones and the Great Circle was initially going to be released on multiple consoles. However, after Microsoft purchased Bethesda parent ZeniMax Media, it changed the agreement to make the game an Xbox console exclusive. The FTC was also under the belief that fellow Bethesda titles Starfield and Redfall were at one point bound for PS5 before those versions of the games were canned.
Hi-Fi Rush is reportedly coming to Switch and PlayStation as soon as this quarter. The Gears of War series could be on the way to PS5 too, according to GamesBeat‘s Jeff Grubb (via Video Games Chronicle).
There’s really only one reason why Microsoft would even begin to consider bringing more of its exclusives to PlayStation: money. It may be the case that the Game Pass model can’t really sustain multiple games with nine-figure budgets and Microsoft could feel as though it’s leaving money on the table by not having certain titles on PS5, as XboxEra put it.
It’s clear that Microsoft is looking to make its gaming division more profitable. It recently laid off around 1,900 workers in that unit, just a few months after closing the $68.7 billion Activision Blizzard takeover.
When Microsoft bought ZeniMax, Microsoft Gaming CEO Spencer said his team would decide platform availability on a case-by-case basis. However, he said that Starfield would only be available on Xbox, PC and Game Pass.
Some Xbox games are already available on PlayStation and Switch, such as Minecraft Dungeons. As part of its 10-year deal to release Call of Duty titles on Nintendo consoles, Microsoft suggested it would bring other Xbox games to Switch and/or its successor.
The change in strategy could call into question Xbox’s place in the games industry. While console wars are by and large nonsense, some players may feel aggrieved that Starfield and the Indy game are seemingly bound for PS5, especially if they decided to make Xbox Series X/S their sole console. Certain gamers who might only be able to afford one of the flagship consoles and tend to trade in games may feel that they’re missing out if they plumped for an Xbox but Microsoft’s titles are hitting PS5 alongside the likes of Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and God of War Ragnarok.
It might not be too long until we learn more details about Microsoft’s possible shift in multi-platform strategy. “We’re listening and we hear you,” Spencer wrote on X. We’ve been planning a business update event for next week, where we look forward to sharing more details with you about our vision for the future of Xbox. Stay tuned.”
Update 2/5 12:31PM ET: Added a note about the rumor of Gears of War coming to PlayStation.
Update 2/5 3:28PM ET: Added Spencer’s statement.