Bethesda’s upcoming Indiana Jones game, in development at Wolfenstein studio MachineGames, will be an Xbox and PC exclusive when it eventually launches. The fact was confirmed by Pete Hines, Bethesda Softworks’ marketing and communications boss, during the FTC investigation into Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Per Hines, the game was initially proposed as a multiplatform title, prior to Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda parent company, ZeniMax Media. Disney and ZeniMax had signed an agreement to that effect, but it was reportedly reworked once Microsoft came on board the project.
Emails revealed during the FTC investigation indicate that platform exclusivity was discussed internally, following the ZeniMax acquisition, with Hines, Xbox CEO Phil Spencer, and Xbox Studios head Matt Booty, as well as other executives, eventually deciding to cancel a PS5 version of the game.
Indiana Jones was reportedly set to launch on PS5
‘The upside here is a game [Indiana Jones] coming from Bethesda that everyone will be excited about,’ one email from Spencer revealed in the trial read, per IGN. ‘This is the most important thing. The downside for Xbox … is that a large percentage of output from Bethesda won’t directly benefit the Xbox community in any way.’
Spencer reportedly encouraged further discussions around console exclusivity, with these ultimately leading to a deal amendment with Disney, to produce Indiana Jones for Xbox and PC only. Hines claimed this was a sound decision overall, as it helped the studio reduce risk and gain ‘a degree of clarity’.
‘You’re dealing with a licensor who is giving a ton of feedback on what you’re making, is going to add a ton of time to your scheduling, these agreements, you don’t get to take as long as you want, you have a window of time in which you’re going to release a game, you immediately have a clock that’s ticking on you,’ Hines reportedly told the FTC.
‘Truthfully, we also kind of liked the idea of embracing, bringing it to Game Pass and how many players we could get there.’
It appears a combination of factors led to Microsoft re-negotiating with Disney, with the primary factors being a renewed development focus, and the potential of the game to net the company new Xbox Game Pass subscribers on release.
Given the FTC investigation is currently focussed on how Microsoft might leverage console exclusivity to gain an advantage over its nearest rivals, this decision will likely play a key part in the eventual verdict handed down.