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Microsoft buys ZeniMax, Bethesda for $7.5 billion


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Microsoft Acquires Skyrim, Fallout Dev Bethesda

Microsoft has announced that it has acquired the parent company of Bethesda's game studios including those behind Doom, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and more.

Microsoft has announced a $7.5 billion deal to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda and its many studios. Those studios are behind some big video game franchises including Doom, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and more.

In an Xbox blog post announcing the acquisition, Xbox head Phil Spencer outlined that this deal includes the studios behind franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, Doom, Dishonored, Prey, and Quake, along with unreleased games like Starfield. It also mentions that Bethesda was early to support Game Pass with offerings like The Elder Scrolls, and that moving forward Bethesda's library will be added to the service. That will include launch-day Game Pass releases for future projects like Starfield. Game Pass is a key factor in the acquisition.

"Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways," Spencer said. "All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you."

Separately, the announcement from Bethesda offers some further explanation of why Microsoft seemed like an appropriate match for the company, including their long partnership of working together. "So why the change? Because it allows us to make even better games going forward," Bethesda PR and marketing boss Pete Hines said. "Microsoft is an incredible partner and offers access to resources that will make us a better publisher and developer. We believe that means better games for you to play. Simply put - we believe that change is an important part of getting better. We believe in pushing ourselves to be better. To innovate. To grow."

"Like our original partnership, this one is about more than one system or one screen," said Elder Scrolls and Fallout producer Todd Howard, in a statement. "We share a deep belief in the fundamental power of games, in their ability to connect, empower, and bring joy. And a belief we should bring that to everyone--regardless of who you are, where you live, or what you play on. Regardless of the screen size, the controller, or your ability to even use one."

It's important to note that the deal hasn't officially gone through yet, although that process may be more of a formality than anything else. In its press release, Microsoft said it expects the deal to close in the second half of its current fiscal year, which would mean that will happen sometime between January and June of 2021.

This is one of Microsoft's pricier acquisitions, coming in far above Mojang ($2.5 billion) and Minecraft and roughly equalling the amount it paid for GitHub. And, while a much different sort of deal, it's also far more than something like Disney's Lucasfilm deal, which was worth $4.05 billion. The ZeniMax acquisition includes eight new studios in all (plus publisher Bethesda Softworks), covering a wide array of franchises:

  • Bethesda Softworks
  • Bethesda Game Studios
  • id Software
  • ZeniMax Online Studios
  • Arkane
  • MachineGames
  • Tango Gameworks
  • Alpha Dog
  • Roundhouse Studios

It's unclear what this could mean for planned PlayStation-exclusive titles like Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo. In the past, Microsoft's acquisition has not necessarily impacted third-party support or deals already in the works. According to Bloomberg, these two games will still see their arrangements honored, while future games will be evaluated for third-party console releases "on a case by case basis."

This announcement is notably coming just one day before preorders go live for Xbox Series X and Series S. For more details, check out our Xbox Series X and Series S preorder guide.

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1 hour ago, Doro said:

I don't know what to make of this. I'm seeing people treating it like it's some historic event, but it's just some studios being bought. Happens all the time.

Could also be Microsoft trying to reduce one of the biggest selling points of PS5, the console exclusives.  

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/23/2020 at 2:55 PM, cossieuk said:

Could also be Microsoft trying to reduce one of the biggest selling points of PS5, the console exclusives.  

Nah, it would be like playing catch up but 20 years too late for that. Everyone has a pc now so xbox is irrelevant. PS exclusives are untouchable, any attempt to make a shitty bethesda game exclusive at this point will blow up on their faces. Doubt they will even produce an Elder Scrolls or Fallout game over the next 3 years, not to mention they would most likely suck. They might make another Doom by 2023 but come on, Ragnarok is coming 2021 and many other great exclusives to PS5. Xbox is really out of his depth when it comes to challenging Sony and Nintendo.

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