Did Microsoft’s lawyer just leak Elder Scrolls 6’s release date?

Screenshot from Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom showing the Sanity's Edge Trial boss Ansuul the Tormentor
(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

What you need to know

  • The FTC and Microsoft are 5 days into an evidentiary hearing over Xbox's acquisition of Activision Blizzard King.
  • Call of Duty has been at the heart of the FTC's concerns over the acquisition, but Xbox's handling of exclusives after Bethesda's acquisition has drawn some attention, as well.
  • Phil Spencer testified that The Elder Scrolls 6 is at least 5+ years away.
  • Microsoft's Lawyer, when trying to correct the FTC, accidentally stated that Elder Scrolls 16 was coming in 2026.

The Federal Trade Commission of the US is 5 days into a plea to the federal courts to issue a preliminary injunction against Microsoft to prevent the closure of the Xbox and Activision merger. There's been no shortage of leaks and reveals during the course of this hearing, including an instance where documents detailed acquisition targets for Microsoft including the likes of Bungie, Sega, 11 bit studios, and Supergiant Games. Additional leaks from poorly redacted documents revealed how much Sony had paid to develop some of their first party titles.

During closing arguments today, the lawyer for Microsoft may have been responsible for yet another slip. This time the slip was about The Elder Scrolls 6:  

Could I clarify one issue that council raised with you, when you were asking about Zenimax and asked him to find a game that was most similar to Xbox, he mentioned Elder Scrolls. That is incorrect. There are two Elder Scrolls games, one is online called Elder Scrolls Online — that is a multiplayer game, it is on PlayStation today. He’s talking about Elder Scrolls 16, that is projected for release in 2026 as a single-player game.

Lawyer speaking on behalf of Microsoft

Clearly there is no Elder Scrolls 16 in the works as The Elder Scrolls 6 was only just announced in 2018, but the potential 2026 release date has garnered some attention. Earlier in the hearing when Xbox CEO Phil Spencer took the stand, he was asked about The Elder Scrolls 6 and replied that the game was "at least 5+ years away". This would put a potential release date somewhere around 2028.

Windows Central's take

Obviously closing arguments during a high profile, high stakes court hearing is an atmosphere that can be rife with confusion and errors, so it's entirely likely that the potential 2026 release window was a slip of the tongue and the lawyer for Microsoft is likely no privier to an earlier release date than anybody else. Those of us tuning into the hearing have listened to economists drag on about vertical foreclosures and hypothetical monopolistic formulas for far too long, and while we realize that this probably just a miscommunication, it's still nice to at least smile and run with it until we have an actual set-in stone release window.

Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays. 

  • fjtorres5591
    It is doubtful BETHESDA is going to bring ES6 IN 2026 simply out of scheduling.
    First, they have to get STARFIELD out.
    Then there's milking it with DLC and "creations".
    That is going to keep the staff busy for all of 2024.
    Are they getting ES6 (which reportedly hasn't nailed down the main quest) out in 18 months?

    Second, look at Microsoft's schedules: STARFIELD 2023, AVOWED 2024, FABLE 2025. 2026? OUTER WORLDS 2 or CLOCKWORK REVOLUTION. The loser gets 2027. ES6 gets 2028. Or are they going to do two RPGs in the same year? Not likely.

    Third, 2028 gives Bethesda time to incorporate GPT tech into their NPCs. After all, if modders are doing GPT NPCs in Skyrim now, Bethesda has to match or better that for ES6 and beyond.

    And, fourth, 2028 is the expected realease of the next gen consoles. What better launch than to send it out with ES6? Morrowind, Oblivion, and Fallout 4 all launched shortly after the first three XBOXes and because they needed graphics cards that cost more than the consoles, they goosed sales early. With better control of both schedules, MS can send the next generation out at the same time.

    No matter how you look at it, 2028 fits.

    Actually, the real fun is going to be how MS slots their shooters if they do get ABK.