Starfield Exclusive Launch Attacked by the FTC During Trial - Comic Years
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Starfield Exclusive Launch Attacked by the FTC During Trial

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BY June 22, 2023

Man, Starfield has been a huge headliner on all fronts. It’s easily one of the biggest and most ambitious upcoming games. However, it spearheaded headlines for the wrong reasons today. The Starfield exclusive launch for Microsoft consoles just angered the FTC.

An article by IGN explained the controversy. Essentially, the game’s exclusive launch worried authorities about the Activision purchase. Let’s remember the main reason behind blocking the merge. Authorities were worried about it being an unfair advantage for Microsoft.

With Starfield becoming a popular release, this worsens. Sure, the Australian Classification Board isn’t a fan. But, it’s still the cause for major hype in players. Its exclusivity would be a fundamental edge for Xbox.

So, let’s summarize this mess.

ZeniMax and the problem with Starfield’s exclusive launch

starfield exclusive launch platforms Right there, that image summarizes the FTC’s rage. (Image credit: Bethesda Software)

Right now, Microsoft met the FTC in court about Activision’s acquisition. ZeniMax, Starfield’s developer, quickly became an example for the FTC. The regulator is using it as strong evidence against the bigger Activision purchase.

Pete Hines, Head of Global Publishing in Bethesda, came as a witness for the FTC. The counsel brought up a previous interview with Hines. In it, he mentions that Xbox exclusivity wasn’t the initial plan. It only came to the picture after being brought up by the company.

Hines also apologized to fans, saying he couldn’t do much about it. Moreover, he pointed out that the news was quite sudden. They didn’t see it coming until it became a reality. ZeniMax even reached out to Xbox to clear things up. The discussion ended with exclusivity being a reality.

Starfield’s exclusive launch as a bad sign for Activision purchase

Starfield characters with guns I like to imagine this is how every court trial looks for this case. (Image credit: Bethesda Software)

So, what does Starfield’s exclusive launch have to do with Activision? The main fear of authorities was its competitive advantage. Microsoft could turn IPs, like Call of Duty, into Xbox and PC exclusives.

This move on Starfield seems to justify these fears. The plan was to release it on multiple consoles. Then, Xbox’s intervention changed this. Moreover, this joins the ranks of other similar moves.

ZeniMax’s contract took a turn after finishing contractual obligations with Sony. Redfall and an upcoming Indiana Jones game followed suit. ZeniMax quickly moved toward exclusivity after the merger.

Thus, this creates a problematic history for Xbox. If they turned ZeniMax’s games exclusive, why not Activision’s? These changes contradict some of their defense arguments, too.

The arguments defending Starfield’s exclusive launch

starfield development length Can you imagine how longer testing would take on multiple consoles? (Image credit: Bethesda Software)

Naturally, there’s another side to the coin. And, it’s easily the most compelling pro-Microsoft argument. Hines himself pointed out an unplanned benefit of Starfield’s exclusivity. The game is huge, no denying it. And, an exclusive launch might’ve made things easier.

Basically, the game wouldn’t release in time if it did so on several consoles. Let’s remember testing and troubleshooting. Doing so for Xbox and PC is already tough. If you add a new console, it becomes harder. So, this decision created a benefit for developers and fans.

Also, this could be good news for PlayStation users. So far, they’ve only addressed Starfield’s exclusive launch. That’s not the same as permanent exclusivity. So, Starfield might release for PlayStation.

Thankfully, Microsoft has a history with this approach, too. Ghostwire: Tokyo, Minecraft, and Outer Wilds are some examples. Despite being their properties, they remain available in other consoles.

But, what do you think? Is this a good enough argument to prevent Activision’s purchase? Is this merger not as big as authorities think?


Featured Image Credit: Bethesda Software.

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