Starfield was reportedly in development for PS5

The US Federal Trade Commission is currently investigating Microsoft's devotion to exclusive games.
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The US Federal Trade Commission has alleged Bethesda Game Studios’ upcoming sci-fi adventure game Starfield was originally set to be a multiplatform release, landing on both Xbox and PlayStation consoles. In court documents made public during the FTC investigation into Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the organisation claims that ‘prior to the ZeniMax transaction, Starfield and Redfall were originally planned for release on PlayStation 5 consoles.’

Starfield was first announced in 2018, years before Microsoft bought Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media for US $7.5 billion. At the time, it was reportedly being developed for multiple consoles – before Microsoft allegedly made the decision to secure Xbox and PC exclusivity.

This move aligns with recent reports of a change in the original release plans for Redfall. In an interview with IGN France, Harvey Smith, creative director on the game, claimed Redfall was originally set to launch on PS5 before Microsoft ‘came in and they said “no PlayStation 5, we’re focusing on Xbox, PC, and Game Pass.”‘

The FTC’s claim that Starfield was restricted for PS5 under similar circumstances, compounded by Smith’s comments about Redfall, will likely serve as evidence in the ongoing FTC trial established to block Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

Read: Report: FTC to attempt block of Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard deal

In late December 2022, the FTC announced its intention to block Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard on the grounds that it would withhold games from its rivals – a claim which has formed the basis of its ongoing investigation.

‘Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,’ Holly Vedova, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition said in a press release. ‘We seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.’

‘With control over Activision’s blockbuster franchises, Microsoft would have both the means and motive to harm competition by manipulating Activision’s pricing, degrading Activision’s game quality or player experience on rival consoles and gaming services, changing the terms and timing of access to Activision’s content, or withholding content from competitors entirely, resulting in harm to consumers,’ the FTC said.

While Microsoft refuted these claims, stating the deal would only expand competition and ‘create more opportunities for gamers and game developers’, reports of blocking games like Starfield and Redfall from rival consoles have become sticking points for the FTC.

Microsoft has made recent promises to companies including PlayStation and Nintendo to keep Activision Blizzard franchises like Call of Duty available on all consoles – but questions still linger about future developments, and whether Activision Blizzard games will eventually follow Bethesda into exclusive territory. As the FTC investigation continues, expect this issue to be examined thoroughly.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.