Xbox Team Indicates Bethesda Will Retain Creative Control

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer suggests that Bethesda will retain quite a bit of say regarding the future of their operations.

In a statement to CNET, Xbox’s Phil Spencer noted that Microsoft currently plans for Bethesda to operate semi-independently despite the fact that they were one of the ZeniMax Media studios acquired in a recent deal.

“It is about the culture of those teams,” said Spencer of Bethesda. “They’re not about becoming us.”

While Spencer does not elaborate on how, exactly, Microsoft and the Xbox team will treat Bethesda in regards to official requests and other procedural matters, everything that we’ve heard so far seems to indicate that the plan is for Bethesda to pretty much function as they would have prior to this acquisition. Representatives from Bethesda have also previously indicated that they intend to still make the “same games” and still publish those same projects.

Yet, we can’t help but feel like quite a few important unanswered questions remain regarding the specifics of this arrangement. While the general indication is that Bethesda will carry on much as they would have before all this started, we know that’s strictly speaking not true. For instance, we suspect that Bethesda likely would not have released Starfield on Game Pass as a day one addition, and Microsoft has already indicated that’s exactly what they intend to do.

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So what other changes can we expect? The truth is that nobody knows the answer to that question at this time, and even today’s “honest” answer is subject to change as the nature of this relationship evolves.

If pressed to guess, though, we’d assume that Bethesda Game Studios (Bethesda’s primary development team) will continue to work on Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 with little creative input from Microsoft. The release strategy of those games may be a little different, but we wouldn’t suspect that Microsoft is going to send that team a lot of creative notes.

However, it’s important to remember that this deal includes so much more than just Bethesda Game Studios. We’ve previously speculated (as have many others) that the smaller studios included in this acquisition could be encouraged to either pursue the development of Xbox exclusive titles or otherwise be asked to pursue smaller projects on the side with the idea being that they’ll also be added to Game Pass at some point.

So while Microsoft may indeed choose to exercise very little creative control over these newly acquired studios, it still remains to be seen exactly how much power they are afforded in the coming years as the nature of this deal hopefully becomes much more clear to gamers trying to figure out which next-gen console to buy.