Microsoft acquires Bethesda and parent company Zenimax

As you read this, the Xbox Series X and S are already up for pre-order. And it’s likely a few gamers are thinking differently about the potential of the next Xbox from just a few days earlier. Yesterday morning, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Bethesda and parent company ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion.

(Most of) Your Favorite Western RPGs

The purchase is the latest in a string of acquisitions by Microsoft of other game studios, and the biggest spend to date. This brings the following studios under Microsoft’s umbrella:

That includes series like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein, Doom, Dishonored, Prey, The Evil Within and the upcoming Bethesda RPG Starfield.

The Pros

This is a huge acquisition for Microsoft that raises lots of questions. The move will unquestionably bolster GamePass, bringing a laundry list of games just starting with those listed above to the service.

Right now, Microsoft does seem like a good fit for the studios under Bethesda. While The Elder Scrolls and Fallout do big business, many of the publishing house’s other games, like Dishonored and Prey, and The Evil Within have struggled to find audiences. A service like GamePass where they serve to add value to the service and bring in other types of gamers, could give those studios some room to work.

Microsoft’s deep well of technical knowledge could also serve Bethesda well; the studio is renowned for making massive open-world games, but the games have as much a rep for being buggy as they do for being engrossing. It seems unlikely that Microsoft would pull an EA and force the studios onto a unified platform, but Microsoft’s skill with things like AI, as well as in-house studios like Playground Games, Turn 10, and 343 Industries could give them a bigger knowledge base to work with.

Potential Cons

Exclusivity is another big question. Microsoft said that it will honor the exclusivity deals that Bethesda had in place for Arkane’s Deathloop and Tango GameWorks’ Ghostwire: Tokyo on PlayStation 5. Other games it will handle, it says, on a case-by-case basis. That means the future of games like The Elder Scrolls VI on PlayStation 5 is now up in the air. On the one hand, Microsoft could burn a lot of good will by taking the games off PlayStation. On the other, it could make a lot of friends by putting The Elder Scrolls VI on GamePass where they can access it and countless other games for one low price.

The near future

Things that seem more certain are the future of modding Bethesda games and studio creative head Todd Howard directing games. Todd’s commitment to Bethesda was likely part of the deal in Microsoft’s purchase. He’s the mind behind some of the longest-lived games and game series of the last two generations and he’s almost certainly contracted to stay with the company for some certain amount of time. He published a post, too, outlining Bethesda and Microsoft’s shared history.

On the modding front, Microsoft led the way in bringing mods to Bethesda’s console games. Removing modding seems to go against that–also going along with that customer-first reputation. Game development legend John Carmack seems pleased, too:

There’s also the fact that Microsoft is a company actively trying to develop its games portfolio while making lots of gamer-friendly moves like focusing on backwards compatibility and offering low-cost and high-power options for its upcoming Xbox console. It’s not hard to look around at the many studios acquired by EA and Activision and worry. Of course, we don’t know what’ll happen 10 years from now. But right now, Microsoft seems like a fit that could give Bethesda’s studios lots of new options.

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TheSpif
TheSpif
5 months ago

This brings back memories of the Bungie acquisition by Microsoft oh so many years ago. Microsoft is just Evil with a capital E! This type of action is (in my mind) a perfect example of anti-competitive action. If you can’t beat ’em… Buy ’em. This does not bode well for anything other than XBox and Windows.

CynicalNoid
CynicalNoid
5 months ago

Here’s hoping that this deal will fix Bugthesda’s QA. Without the modding community I would never touch the Fallout and Elder Scrolls series. (Which is the big reason I give F76 and TESO a hard pass.)

derFunkenstein
5 months ago

I don’t think we need to worry too much about new Bethesda games becoming Xbox exclusives. Microsoft has shown a willingness to push cross-platform IP to new platforms (Minecraft Story Mode came out for PS4, for example). Day-one Game Pass availability means that Microsoft will sell a lot more Game Pass subs for that, and also collect $70 a pop on PS4 sales. I see that as a win-win for MS. And they need all the revenue they can get, having just forked out $7.5 billion.

tfp
tfp
5 months ago
Reply to  derFunkenstein

Yes but Minecraft on PS4 needs to be reinstalled after every other patch because of an insanely long load time that is fixed by a simple delete and redownload and install. So while they might key producing games the quality of the release on non-MSFT platforms will probably decrease.

superjawes
superjawes
5 months ago
Reply to  derFunkenstein

Day-one Game Pass availability means that Microsoft will sell a lot more Game Pass subs for that, and also collect $70 a pop on PS4 sales.

This was also my thought in response to concerns about titles not making it to PS4. It’s still a good deal for Xbox customers ($10/month instead of $60+ per title), but PS owners still get to play Bethesda, etc. titles on their preferred console.

The lost cat
The lost cat
5 months ago
Reply to  superjawes

I’ll laugh if MS follows Sonys lead and prices them $70…only on Playstation.

curtisb
curtisb
5 months ago

On the other, it could make a lot of friends by putting The Elder Scrolls VI on GamePass

All first-party Xbox Game Studio games do go on Game Pass…on release day no less.

The lost cat
The lost cat
5 months ago
Reply to  curtisb

Well, almost. Forza hasn’t, and Forza Horizon 1-3 didn’t (though 4 did.)

fmprodguy
fmprodguy
5 months ago
Reply to  The lost cat

Um, Game Pass didn’t exist yet when Forza 1-3 came out. They were back catalog games… sooooo, yes they were not available when game pass launched, but that may have been due to altering code for older games.

Sweatshopking
Sweatshopking
5 months ago
Reply to  The lost cat

That was, apparently, due to music licensing. And has Been rectified

Krogoth
Krogoth
5 months ago

Intel: “We need to cancel our plans to launch Elder Lake”

On a side note, this means a Master Chef and Doom Slayer might be an actual possibility.

derFunkenstein
5 months ago
Reply to  Krogoth

Master Chef was my favorite of the original Iron Chefs in Japan.

tfp
tfp
5 months ago
Reply to  derFunkenstein

Is that the dude that would bite into the onion at the start of the show?

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