Technically correct is the best kind of correct.
Microsoft is currently knee deep in its attempt to buy Activision Blizzard and as a result has gone on heavy PR-control against anything that might hamper those efforts. I think at this point it’s just as obvious that the deal will be allowed by regulators as it is that Microsoft will absolutely renege on its promises that buying Acti-Blizz won’t harm competition in the gaming space.
Because we can’t rely on regulators to actually look out for the public’s good and we certainly can’t rely on big executives like Phil Spencer to not be a shameless liar. But Microsoft’s PR expertly danced around this week and are lying to the press about the development of Redfall, the next Arkane Studios title coming out in May. Well they’re not actually lying in what they say, but they’re lying by implication.
If you haven’t caught the news, Redfall’s game director Harvey Smith stated to IGN that the game was originally being developed for PlayStation 5 among its list of consoles. When Microsoft bought ZeniMax, and thus Arkane, the heads at Microsoft came down and put the kibosh on those plans. Phil Spencer at the time had claimed that “This deal was not done to take games away from another player base like that,” a statement that we now also know is a lie as their studios have basically stopped releasing games for PlayStation that weren’t already contractually obligated before the purchase (Deathloop, Ghostwire: Tokyo).
But in their denial of the claim by Harvey Smith, Microsoft doesn’t actually deny the meat of the statement. Look at their wording:
“We haven’t pulled any games from PlayStation,” a spokesperson told Eurogamer. “In fact, we’ve expanded our footprint of games that we’ve shipped on Sony’s PlayStation since our acquisition of ZeniMax, and the first two games we shipped after closing were PlayStation 5 exclusives. We did the same thing since our closing of Minecraft as we extended the reach of that franchise.
All of the games that were available on PlayStation when we acquired ZeniMax in March 2021 are still available on PlayStation, and we have continued to do content updates on PlayStation and PC. We have always said that future decisions on whether to distribute ZeniMax games for other consoles will be made on a case-by-case basis.”
Everything that was available on PlayStation in 2021 is still available. Redfall wasn’t available on PlayStation in 2021, or anywhere for that matter. You see, Microsoft is trying to cleverly BS us by saying they didn’t change anything that was already there, with the implication that they are also talking about Redfall. But they aren’t. What you have is a frame perfect dodge of the question in a way that Sony hopefully can’t show to regulators to prove Microsoft can’t be trusted to uphold their promises.
Let’s look at Bethesda’s non-contractual releases since then and those on the horizon. Hi-Fi Rush? Xbox exclusive. Redfall? Xbox exclusive. Starfield? Xbox exclusive. Elder Scrolls VI? Xbox exclusive. I think Elder Scrolls VI being an Xbox exclusive should be proof enough that Phil Spencer is a prolific liar and nothing Microsoft promises about maintaining competition should be taken with any credibility.
It’s a weak response and just gives credibility to Harvey Smith’s claim because Microsoft doesn’t actively deny it. Sony should be jumping on this statement regardless and showing it to regulators.
Then again what do I know.