Starfield is coming this September as an Xbox console exclusive, but there was a time when things almost played out very differently.
On the witness stand as part of today's trial between Microsoft/Activision Blizzard and the FTC, Xbox head Phil Spencer confirmed that there were discussions about Starfield potentially skipping Xbox consoles prior to Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax.
This part of Spencer's testimony was filled with questions about third-party exclusivity deals, where the Xbox boss also confirmed that Sony signed Square Enix to a deal to keep Final Fantasy 16 as a PlayStation 5 console exclusive.
Spencer said Xbox "needed to do a lot of work with a lot of partners given the competitive situation we had against the market leader,” referring to Sony. He also said Xbox was worried about losing Starfield after seeing Bethesda titles like Ghostwire: Tokyo and Deathloop head exclusively to PlayStation. Spencer said Xbox had to secure content for its platform — by way of the Bethesda acquisition — to "remain viable in the business".
Back in 2020 — when Microsoft announced its plans to buy Bethesda — journalist Imran Khan first reported on Starfield's potential PlayStation exclusivity, writing "Sony had been negotiating timed exclusivity on Starfield as recently as a few months ago. Going to guess either those talks are done or the price suddenly went way, way up." Shortly after in early 2021, the reports started to surface that Starfield would head exclusively to Xbox Series X|S.
We're in the middle of day two of the trial that could determine the fate of Xbox's proposed $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. To keep up with all the news, check out our recap of day one and what to expect the rest of the way.
Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over seven years of experience in the gaming industry with bylines at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.