Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media was driven, at least in part, by the company’s desire to brag star field for Xbox, putting it beyond Sony’s reach. Xbox head Phil Spencer said this during the Federal Trade Commission hearing to temporarily stop Microsoft from acquiring Activision Blizzard.
Spencer alleged that competitors, namely Sony Interactive Entertainment, paid to keep the games off the Xbox platform. Final Fantasy 16, which was released this week, is one of them, he said. Sony also had a deal with Bethesda Softworks Ghostwire: Tokyo And Death Loop to keep Xbox games, Spencer said, and was in talks to do the same for Bethesda star field. (It was communicated in September 2020 for which Sony had negotiated a time exclusivity star field.)
“ZeniMax is a good example,” Spencer said. “When we acquired ZeniMax, one of the reasons was that Sony had made a deal Death Loop And ghost yarn and actually paying Bethesda not to ship these games to Xbox.
Spencer added that there was a need to “secure ownership” of ZeniMax and star field to track the number of new games on Xbox. “We can’t be in a third-place console position where we fall even further behind with our content ownership,” he said.
Microsoft acquired ZeniMax in September 2020; the $7.5 million deal closed in March 2021. The two Death Loop And Ghostwire: Tokyo were released after the Microsoft acquisition as PlayStation exclusives, but Death Loop finally came to Xbox Series X in September 2022. star field is scheduled for September 6 as an Xbox and Windows PC exclusive. Bethesda editor Pete Hines said on Thursday star field is “irresponsibly large”, and that it would certainly have slowed down the game on other console platforms.
“As someone who’s played it a lot and seen all of this happen,” Hines said, “there’s no question that being able to focus on fewer platforms to support, hardware to take charge, has been a big advantage for this team.”
Spencer was the second Xbox executive to take the helm Friday for the FTC hearing, following senior chief financial officer Jamie Lawver. Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley sealed the courtroom for Lawver’s full testimony due to his confidentiality. Proceedings will continue on Friday with recorded testimony from Sony’s Jim Ryan and testimony from Google Stadia’s Dov Zimring. The FTC is asking Judge Corley to temporarily stop Microsoft from acquiring Activision Blizzard. Its decision will determine whether the deal remains on hold until the pending FTC case is resolved.
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