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Disney Insists Bethesda's Indiana Jones Game Going PC and Xbox Exclusive Isn't 'Overly Exclusionary'

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Microsoft’s high-profile legal battle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the fate of its $69 billion buyout of Activision Blizzard unearthed a number of explosive revelations, among them the fact
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to make Bethesda's upcoming Indiana Jones game exclusive to Xbox and PC, thus ditching the PlayStation 5 version.


During the trial, Bethesda's Pete Hines revealed that Disney had an agreement with Bethesda owner ZeniMax for a multiplatform AAA Indiana Jones game, but after Microsoft bought the company, the agreement with Disney was amended to transition the Indiana Jones game to an Xbox and PC exclusive. At the time, Hines said the game was set to hit Game Pass on day one.

Several emails and conversations shown during the trial added colour to the decision to make Indiana Jones a platform exclusive. “While it is not in our messaging, I think it is important to highlight that Lucasfilm brought up the issue of platforms because we have a signed agreement with them to develop the game for multiple consoles," read an email between Hines, Xbox CEO Phil Spencer, Xbox Studios head Matt Booty, and several other executives.

"The upside here is a game coming from Bethesda that everyone will be excited about. 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 wrote in January 2021.


Hines said he was told by Spencer in a subsequent call that Bethesda should continue to look at title exclusivity on a case-by-case basis. Asked why Indiana Jones was ultimately amended, Hines attributed it to "reducing risk and trying to get 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 said.

In short, while Bethesda had a degree of control over what happened with Starfield, it has much less control over Indiana Jones, which is owned by Lucasfilm. "Truthfully, we also kind of liked the idea of embracing, bringing it to Game Pass and how many players we could get there," Hine said.

A subsequent court document revealed how
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to help offset the losses it would incur from making Indiana Jones and the recently released Starfield Xbox console exclusives.

The FTC cited Microsoft Gaming Chief Financial Officer Tim Stuart's testimony, stating that Microsoft had forecasted "more than 10 million" sales on PlayStation "for both Starfield and Indiana Jones," before it decided to make both games exclusive to Xbox.

We felt like it's still going to reach a broad set of folks, and we felt, financially and strategically for the game, that made sense at the time.

Now, Speaking to
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, Disney’s head of gaming, Sean Shoptaw, explained why the company was happy to renegotiate on Indiana Jones. With "Xbox still being one of the bigger marketplaces for games, we didn't feel like we were going to be overly exclusionary”, Shoptaw insisted. “We felt like it's still going to reach a broad set of folks, and we felt, financially and strategically for the game, that made sense at the time."

Essentially, Microsoft made it worth Disney’s while to ensure Indiana Jones on Xbox as a console exclusive, thus adding further value to Game Pass and encouraging sales of the Xbox console.

Microsoft and the issue of console exclusivity has come up multiple times in recent years. Microsoft announced its
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back in 2020, and outside of honoring the timed-exclusivity deals PlayStation previously inked with Bethesda for timed console exclusivity for Arkane’s Deathloop and Tango Gameworks’ Ghostwire: Tokyo, projects coming from developers under the ZeniMax umbrella were announced as a console exclusive for Xbox consoles, including the previously mentioned Starfield and Indiana Jones.

Indeed, Arkane Studios was
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before Microsoft acquired ZeniMax. Arkane Studios' Harvey Smith noted in the interview that the developer was then instructed to focus on "Game Pass, Xbox, and PC."

The exclusivity of Activision’s Call of Duty was at the heart of the FTC’s case against Microsoft, a case it ultimately lost. While Bethesda games, including the upcoming
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, are PC and Xbox exclusive, Microsoft signed a 10-year deal with Sony to ensure Call of Duty remains on PlayStation.

Microsoft exclusivity hit the headlines again last week following
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during
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. Microsoft is yet to announce launch platforms, leaving a potential PS5 version up in the air. But with Disney seemingly happy for Indiana Jones to leave PlayStation behind, perhaps it has agreed a similar deal for Blade.

In September,
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, developed by Wolfenstein maker MachineGames, in 2024.


Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at [email protected] or confidentially at [email protected].

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