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

Bethesda and Xbox logos
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft today announced 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 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 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.

  • hotaru.hino
    Well this puts Sony in a tight jam.

    EDIT: Another point of concern is whether or not Microsoft will "strongly" recommend id to use DirectX over Vulkan.
    Reply
  • gggplaya
    They really are trying to be the Netflix of gaming. I'm assuming most of these titles will be on PC as well, which I'm happy about. Simply because they want to sell you the monthly service fee, and not try to make money off of console hardware.
    Reply
  • mac_angel
    That sucks!!!
    Just look what M$ did to MechWarrior.
    Reply
  • bigdragon
    Zenimax has a lot of offices in Maryland. Microsoft may help the employees. Everyone I know who works for Zenimax routinely does 60+ hour weeks. I hope Microsoft fixes each studio's culture of overworking. I'd like to see some friends more often.
    Reply
  • Metteec
    This is good news for XBox Game Pass subscribers. That means that you will have access to those titles for $9.99/mo. I am not sure how this will play out for future development, as previous publishing deals through Microsoft have been wrought with problems (Mechwarrior, Vanguard, Asheron's Call 2).

    I think it is Steam and GOG that have the most to fear from this acquisition. I would not be surprised if Microsoft prevented those ecosystems from selling Bethesda products, similar to what EA has done with its AAA launches. Only time will tell, but Microsoft has a vested interest in ensuring the next Elder Scrolls or Fallout game is a big hit if it wants to maintain its dominion.
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    Metteec said:
    This is good news for XBox Game Pass subscribers. That means that you will have access to those titles for $9.99/mo. I am not sure how this will play out for future development, as previous publishing deals through Microsoft have been wrought with problems (Mechwarrior, Vanguard, Asheron's Call 2).

    I think it is Steam and GOG that have the most to fear from this acquisition. I would not be surprised if Microsoft prevented those ecosystems from selling Bethesda products, similar to what EA has done with its AAA launches. Only time will tell, but Microsoft has a vested interest in ensuring the next Elder Scrolls or Fallout game is a big hit if it wants to maintain its dominion.
    not an issue.

    MS funded the port of PS02.
    they had it exclusive on their thign for a few months before lettign steam have it too.

    they also publish many games that are on steam from day 1 (like their lfight sim games)

    the "worry" with steam would be more from its being added for XBox live sub system....so u can play em w/o goign through steam if u have a sub for Gamepass (which many ppl might find better as u can play may games for a small fee rather and renting instead of owning)
    Reply
  • Nemesia
    hotaru.hino said:
    Well this puts Sony in a tight jam.

    EDIT: Another point of concern is whether or not Microsoft will "strongly" recommend id to use DirectX over Vulkan.

    Don't say something scary like that ok? :)
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    Hey, maybe Bethesda can afford to hire a beta tester now.

    mac_angel said:
    That sucks!!!
    Just look what M$ did to MechWarrior.
    I think MechWarrior's problems at least in part come down to licensing issues, since a number of different companies hold the rights to various aspects of BatleTech. Even the designs for many of the early Mechs were originally based on art licensed from different anime series. I believe the rights to develop games in the MechWarrior franchise was acquired by Piranha Games almost a decade ago, and that's whose been responsible for MechWarrior Online and MechWarrior 5. The BattleTech game from a few years back was from a different company. All of those games were PC releases, with none of them releasing on consoles, which again, might come down to licensing issues of some sort.
    Reply
  • Antias
    I just hope they keep there stupid money grabbing fingers out of the development pie... I adore (and play) Zenimax and Bethesda's games and worry they'll be "simplified (even further) for consoles" too much...
    The Fallout and Elder Scrolls series are my go-to games when i'm so often dissapointed with other newer releases.
    Elder Scrolls Online is an almost nightly game for me...
    Reply
  • GetSmart
    Gonna be an interesting Microsoft versus Sony battle soon... 😇
    Reply