In a surprising turn of events, Microsoft has agreed to buy ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, for a sum of $7.5 billion.
The deal includes Bethesda, id Software, Arkane Studios, MachineGames, and numerous others. Those are names that should be very familiar already but think The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom, Prey, Dishonored, Wolfenstein, and the upcoming Deathloop, an upcoming action-adventure game that's currently a PlayStation 5 timed console-exclusive. As the blog post by Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, puts it "as one of the largest, most critically acclaimed, privately held game developers and publishers in the world, Bethesda is an incredibly talented group of 2,300 people worldwide who make up some of the most accomplished creative studios in our industry across Bethesda Softworks."
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind on the original Xbox was Bethesda's first console game so there's a fair bit of history between the two firms, and we've already seen a number of titles on Xbox Game Pass in recent times.
It's Microsoft's biggest acquisition to date but it means that the company now has 23 in-house development studios under its wings which is a massive accomplishment for the console giant. It's already announced that as part of the deal, games published by ZeniMax Media and connected subsidiaries will be made available on its Xbox Game Pass subscription service for both Xbox and PC gaming.
Xbox Game Pass has already been a huge success for the firm with subscriber numbers recently reaching 15 million - a 50 percent leap in just five months - and this can only strengthen those numbers.
For now, there's no word yet on how the acquisition will affect things elsewhere. Notably, it's currently uncertain what it will mean for the Sony PlayStation 4/5 and Nintendo Switch in terms of game releases. That will presumably become more certain as the deal is closed which is expected in the second half of Microsoft's fiscal year 2021 which ends 30th June. There's a fair bit of time yet to see how things may play out for everyone else.
April 12 2021 | 14:00