Microsoft has recently announced that it is set to acquire Bethesda and its parent company ZeniMax Media. This will include the many studios under ZeniMax Media. The deal is for around $7.5 billion which is quite the sum. The studios that Microsoft is going to acquire are some big names in the gaming industry with franchises including Doom, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and many more. With Microsoft to acquire Bethesda and its parent company, it would massively increase its studio arsenal. It would bring the total number of studios they own from 15 to 23. Quite the big expansion.
What all do they acquire?
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 upcoming games like Starfield. This was one of the biggest moves in recent gaming history and people admit that, strategically, it was a darn good move. This isn’t new for Microsoft either. In the past few years, they have been on a buying spree, with multiple key acquisitions like Mojang and GitHub. This new acquisition gives Microsoft control of 8 new studios:
- Bethesda Softworks
- Bethesda Game Studios
- id Software
- ZeniMax Online Studios
- Tango Gameworks
- Alpha Dog
- Roundhouse Studios
This increases their franchise density alone by a huge margin. Adding this to their already owned studios, it makes them extremely strong. Think about it like this, a single company will own Minecraft, Doom, Halo, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Battletoads, Killer Instinct, Psychonauts, Age of Empires, Wolfenstein, Wasteland, Perfect Dark, Hellblade, and more.
Another factor is the increase in the Game Pass library. Xbox head Phil Spencer mentioned how ZeniMax was always a supporter of Game Pass, with Bethesda offering The Elder Scrolls in the early days for the Game Pass library. He said that moving forward Bethesda’s library will be added to the service as each game releases. This will include launch-day Game Pass releases for future projects. One such release is Starfield. Game Pass was actually a key factor behind the acquisition. Xbox Game Pass is a video game subscription service from Microsoft which lets you access a wide library of games with a monthly subscription. It is like Netflix for video games. A very unique idea.
This acquisition will further fortify the value of the Game Pass making it even more attractive to gaming enthusiasts. Adding the next big Bethesda games to the Game Pass on launch day is a massive point in its favor. It adds massive value to the subscription especially with games like The Elder Scrolls which people put hours into. They would keep renewing the subscription to continue playing their favorite games.
And since this is all for a console war, exclusivity will definitely be a major factor. Although Microsoft was never stingy when it comes to console exclusivity, titles like Minecraft are available on all platforms despite being owned by Microsoft, this doesn’t mean they won’t make use of this power. We might see the PS5 lose out on some really great games. But Microsoft would act as a gatekeeper. They would have the power to decide if their competitors get certain games. This weakens the PlayStation’s position and makes the Xbox a much more viable console.
While the deal hasn’t gone through yet and 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. The future might get scary for PlayStation fans because Microsoft already owns multiple super big development companies, and with the way, they are doing things they might buy more. All the concentration of power would then fall on Microsoft. PlayStation really does have to step up its game.
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