In what will surely be one of the largest acquisitions in gaming history, Microsoft announced on September 21, 2020 that it intends to purchase ZeniMax Media for 7.5 billion dollars. Home to Bethesda Game Studios, ZeniMax Media is also the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. Though Bethesda’s flagship series The Elder Scrolls and Fallout are probably most widely played, ZeniMax Media’s developers also work on series like Doom and Wolfenstein.
It has been confirmed that the announced upcoming PS5 timed exclusives Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo will remain so, but whether other titles without release dates, like Bethesda’s Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6, will be wholly exclusive is still unclear. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said in an interview that their plans are to “take other consoles on a case-by-case basis.” Microsoft projects that the official timeframe of the acquisition will be the second half of the fiscal year 2021, which means after April 2021 at the earliest.
Microsoft also announced that new ZeniMax Media games will be released concurrently on Xbox Game Pass, further establishing the company’s investment in its subscription service (which now includes cloud gaming in the form of xCloud). With the delay of Halo: Infinite, Microsoft’s announcement of the acquisition comes at a time when consumers may have been concerned about a lack of exclusive titles to the Xbox family of consoles.
Though this news may come as surprising, especially considering Sony’s penchant for exclusivity deals with developers, Bethesda and Microsoft have had a friendly history. Not only was Bethesda’s first console game exclusive to Xbox (The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind), but in the past Microsoft has been far more open to having modded content that gamers could develop and use on Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Special Edition.
Image courtesy of Microsoft.