When Elder Scrolls VI is all but confirmed as exclusive but Indiana Jones isn't then it implies to me that it's either an issue with the license or contract and further convinces me that Microsoft should simply stay away from licenses rather than make a bunch of concessions to make the license holder happy.
I'm only speculating but it may have been greenlit on the basis that it would achieve X amount of sales, to make it exclusive would likely be an obvious break of that goal they made with LucasArts. Microsoft going back to the negotiation table puts them at the disadvantage and allows Lucas to take advantage of that cause Microsoft (in particular, MachineGames) needs this game a lot more than Lucas needs it, which allows Lucas to drive up the price.
The only reason Xbox is even alive right now is Game Pass, the promises that Phil made to Satya about the future of Game Pass, the exclusives need to be day one, as they've already promised to us for years now that every exclusive they're involved in will be day one in Game Pass, it's the business proposition that Phil made to Satya, to go back on it to their fans and their own CEO would be a bad look.
It's bad business sense, sacrificing potential exclusives in the name of making all games day one Gamepass. Some devs and publishers are never going to be willing to accept releasing an Xbox exclusive that is day one Gamepass because they see Gamepass downloads as costing them too many crucial day one $60 sales, it puts Xbox at an automatic disadvantage at the negotiating table. Such a mentality would particularly hurt them when trying to get JP exclusives I suspect, which will make getting 2nd party JP exclusives even more difficult than it already would be.
Hardware movement should trump all else in Xbox's eyes, with Gamepass growth being a still very important secondary concern. You need to move alot of hardware to be a success in the gaming industry, and nothing moves more hardware than popular, high selling exclusives. Licensing already popular IP's as exclusives is one of the best ways to get a strong selling exclusive that move alot of hardware, Spider-Man from Insomniac already proved that when it sold like 4x as many copies as the previous bestselling Insomniac game. If there is one thing Xbox is currently lacking in, it's exclusives that are capable of selling the kind of numbers that Sony's exclusives like Uncharted, TLOU, Horizon, God of War, and Spider-Man are moving (all trending toward 20m+ lifetime, if not already above 20m), popular licensed IP's as exclusives is one of the best ways that Xbox can move those kind of software numbers themselves. Indiana Jones could have potentially been one such IP that could have moved alot of hardware for Xbox, seeing as Indiana Jones 4 did $790m at the box office and Indy 5 may well cross the $1b mark, that is a lot of fans of the series that may potentially buy the game on Xbox if it is exclusive.
Why is selling alot of hardware so important? The reasons are severalfold:
- The more hardware that is sold, the more software, service subs, and accessories the person buying that console buys over the course of the generation, and software, service subs, and accessories all generate big profit unlike the hardware itself which is loss leading.
- A console that has a big sales lead over another console has a big advantage at the negotiating table when making 2nd party and 3rd party moneyhat deals. The larger a console's install base, the more potential copies sold as an exclusive vs as a multiplat game, which gives an advantage when negotiating for both 2nd party full exclusive deals and 3rd party timed hat deals. In other words, if Xbox doesn't start doing more to close the hardware gap with Sony, Sony will continue to be able to lock down big 2nd party games and timed 3rd party hats with relative ease, which continues a cycle that is bad for Xbox owners.
- The more hardware that is sold in non-core markets for Xbox, the more retail space and the more headspace Xbox begins to get in those markets, which builds up success that will last into later generations.