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Microsoft's pledge to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation sparked concern at Bethesda, email shows

"The opposite of what we were just asked to do with our own titles."

Microsoft's promise it would keep Call of Duty on rival console platforms after buying Activision Blizzard prompted concern within Bethesda at its highest levels, a newly-published email now shows.

Bethesda marketing exec Pete Hines emailed bosses, including Todd Howard, to highlight the approach Microsoft was taking with Activision in order to court regulatory approval and note that it was "the opposite" of what Bethesda itself had just been "asked (told) to do" with its own games.

The email, dated 2nd October last year, expresses concern that Bethesda would be publicly questioned on why games like Starfield are Xbox-only following Microsoft's acquisition, as opposed to future incarnations of Call of Duty after Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

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"I'm confused," Hines wrote. "Is the below not the opposite of what we were just asked (told) to do with our own titles? What's the difference?"

Hines then quoted a public blog post from Xbox boss Phil Spencer in which it was stated Microsoft had committed to still releasing Call of Duty and other Activision Blizzard games through any existing agreements between the companies and beyond.

"Did anyone at Xbox think about giving us a heads-up on this?" Hines continued. "Todd's going to DICE in a couple weeks, you don't think a journo might find him and press him on why the below is OK for COD or any Activision Blizzard games, but not TES6 or Starfield? Or at any/every future interview he does?"

To date, Bethesda has not publicly confirmed any launch platforms for The Elder Scrolls 6.

Microsoft bought Bethesda for $7.5bn and said at the time that it would decide on a "case-by-case basis" whether its games would launch on consoles other than Xbox.

Since then, it has released Hi-Fi Rush and Redfall, both of which have arrived on Xbox consoles only. Indeed, the issue of Redfall originally being set for PlayStation caused quite a stir after it emerged the game had originally been planned for Sony's consoles before Microsoft's acquisition.

These latest details have come to light in court as Microsoft attempts to pursuade the US Federal Trade Commission that it should be able to buy Activision Blizzard for $68.7bn.

Speaking last week, Spencer said it was interested in Bethesda to stop Sony swooping in and buying Starfield exclusivity for itself. Spencer also said The Elder Scrolls 6 is unlikely to release for at least five years, depite that teaser trailer being shown back in June 2018.

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