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Starfield Was Planned For PS5 Prior To Microsoft's ZeniMax Acquisition, FTC Says

Bethesda's sci-fi RPG would have come to PlayStation if not for Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax in 2021, according to the FTC.


Starfield, the next major Xbox console-exclusive from the makers of Skyrim and Fallout, was originally planned to release on PlayStation 5, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Documents recently made public as part of the FTC's injunction against Microsoft's planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard state that prior to Microsoft's $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax, both Starfield and Redfall were planned to release on rival Sony's PS5 console.

That obviously changed once Microsoft announced it would be purchasing ZeniMax in 2020, with the deal being finalized in March of 2021. Starfield was originally announced in 2018. The game's announcement teaser does not mention what platforms the game would ship on.

Fans have long assumed that a major new game from Bethesda Game Studios would have been released on multiple platforms if not for the Microsoft acquisition of Bethesda, given that Skyrim and recent Fallout games have shipped on both Microsoft's and Sony's consoles in the past. The theory that Starfield was originally planned for PS5 received more evidence earlier this year, when it was revealed in an interview that the vampire-shooter Redfall, which became a Xbox console-exclusive, originally had a PS5 version in the works. That version of the game was abandoned after Microsoft's acquisition. Starfield is slated to release this September.

Microsoft leaders were originally vague about whether or not certain games would be exclusive prior to the ZeniMax deal being finalized. But once the deal closed, it was quickly announced that some games, including future Bethesda titles, would be Xbox and PC exclusives.

Now, Microsoft's handling of ZeniMax and making certain games exclusive could factor into the FTC's final ruling matter, as the FTC is laying out its case for why Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to acquire Activision Blizzard. Though Microsoft has insisted it doesn't plan to make Activision games like Call of Duty exclusive any time soon, the FTC claims that "Microsoft's actions following its 2021 acquisition of ZeniMax speak louder than the Defendants' words."

Microsoft, on the other hand, has pointed to how it handled its acquisition of Minecraft-developer Mojang as evidence that it has a track record of keeping massively popular games available on multiple platforms. It has also sought to make deals with companies like Nintendo and Sony to guarantee access to Call of Duty titles for the coming decade, a deal Sony has thus far refused.

The FTC announced in December that it would sue to block Microsoft's $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard. A federal court last week issued a temporary restraining order requested by FTC, a move that effectively blocks the deal for the time being. The case this week will go to trial as the FTC attempts to receive a preliminary injunction against the merger that would result in the deal being put on ice as the FTC reviews it. A preliminary injunction would likely mean that Microsoft's purchase of Activision Blizzard would not be finalized by July 18, after which the two parties would have to renegotiate. If a new deal isn't reached, Microsoft will be required to pay a $3 billion "break-up" fee to Activision Blizzard.

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