Well, this is huge news.
Just hours before pre-orders for the Xbox Series X/S opened up, Microsoft announced it has “entered an agreement” to purchase Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax Media for a cool $US7.5 billion, with the deal to be finalised in the 2021 financial year. This acquisition may mean some of the biggest gaming franchises in the world, including Elder Scrolls, Doom, Prey, Wolfenstein, Dishonoured, and Fallout are about to become console-exclusive.
See! Fucking huge news!
Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, announced the massive purchase via Xbox Wire yesterday. ‘Bethesda’s games have always had a special place on Xbox and in the hearts of millions of gamers around the world.” said Spencer, “Our teams have a close and storied history working together, from the amazing first DOOM, and its id Tech engine, innovating games on PCs to Bethesda bringing their first console game to the original Xbox, the groundbreaking The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Over the years I’ve had many deep conversations with the creative leaders at Bethesda on the future of gaming and we’ve long shared similar visions for the opportunities for creators and their games to reach more players in more ways.’
Over the last few years, Xbox studios has steadily grown, with eight new studios added to the family since 2014, but ZeniMax is a different beast altogether. Under the ZeniMax umbrella, Xbox will now own the following studios:
- Alpha Dog Games (mobile games)
- Arkane Studios (Dishonored)
- Arkane Studios Austin
- Bethesda Game Studios (Skyrim, Fallout 3, Fallout 4)
- Bethesda Game Studios Austin (Fallout 76)
- Bethesda Game Studios Dallas
- Bethesda Game Studios Montreal
- Bethesda Softworks
- id Software (DOOM, DOOM Eternal)
- MachineGames (modern Wolfenstein series)
- Roundhouse Studios (Rune 2)
- Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within, Ghostwire: Tokyo)
- ZeniMax Online Studios (The Elder Scrolls Online, Fallout 76)
“With the acquisition of Bethesda, we metaphorically and literally double our gaming content capacity,” said Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella in an interview with Bloomberg
The acquisition certainly throws a spanner in the works for players looking forward to seeing games like Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6 on PlayStation 5, with Phil Spencer saying that when it comes to future releases, Xbox will “take other consoles on a case-by-case basis”. However, Bethesda has confirmed that the games with current console-exclusivity deals with Sony, Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo, will remain unchanged at this time.
In a further interview with CNBC, Spencer explained the effect the purchase would have on the already outstanding Xbox Game Pass.
“The commitments we’ve already made with the gamers out there on the games people know about, we will continue with those commitments. The thing this is really about is a huge investment in our Xbox community. They know that the great games coming from ZeniMax and all of those studios — we’re now over 23 studios inside of Xbox — those games will be able to come to the Xbox community, they’ll come to Game Pass day-and-date, and people will just have this amazing collection of great games to continue to play on Xbox.”
In a year where most big stories have leaked ahead of time, the fact that something of this magnitude has been kept so well concealed has floored me. I hope you managed to get your hands on an Xbox Series X/S, cos the next-gen is looking wild!