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Microsoft Buys Zenimax Media, Bethesda Softworks, for $7.5 Billion

Bethesda and Xbox logos
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft today announced (opens in new tab) a massive, $7.5 billion cash acquisition of Zenimax Media and its game publishing arm, Bethesda Softworks. The closure of the deal will also putt Bethesda Game Studios, Id, Arkane, Zenimax Onlone, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog and Roundhouse Studios under the Microsoft and Xbox umbrellas.

Xbox head Phil Spencer wrote (opens in new tab) that this will add 2,300 developers to Microsoft, as well as major PC and console franchises, including The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, Doom, Dishonored, Prey, Quake and Starfield.

In a press release, Bethesda Game Studios vice president Pete Hines wrote (opens in new tab) that "Microsoft expects the acquisition to close in the second half of fiscal year 2021." He also said that Bethesda's games will be "made by the same studios we’ve worked with for years, and those games will be published by us." That suggests some independence and even the possibility of games being placed on other platforms.

At the moment, Bethesda is lined up to publish a few upcoming semi-exclusives on PlayStation 5, including Arkane Studios’ Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo from Tango Gameworks.

Microsoft will be bringing games from Bethesda's franchises to Xbox Game Pass, and, as part of Xbox Game Studios, will have new releases at launch, so this industry-shaking deal could be a huge boon for the company's subscription services for console and PC.

Microsoft announced this massive acquisition the day before pre-orders for the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, giving some momentum to systems that will see future titles from Bethesda's studios.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter: @FreedmanAE