Microsoft Bethesda buyout given thumbs up from EU

Last year, Microsoft announced that it had agreed to a deal to purchase ZeniMax Media for a whopping $7.5 billion. This is a huge purchase in pretty much every sense, because that substantial sum Microsoft is paying for ZeniMax will net it a number of new first-party game studios including Bethesda and id Software (among others). Today Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax was cleared by the European Commission, which means that it's one step closer to being finalized.

What's more, the European Commission has seemingly cleared the merger without any conditions. "The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the combined entity's limited market position upstream and the presence of strong downstream competitors in the distribution of video games," the Commission said in a statement today.

There are a couple of big questions remaining about this merger. The first, obviously, is the question of when the deal will be finalized, but the second is what will happen with ZeniMax games moving forward. Microsoft is becoming the owner of a number of different franchises with this acquisition – Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls and Fallout series are perhaps the two best-known, but then we've also got DOOM and Quake from id Software, Wolfenstein from MachineGames, and Dishonored from Arkane Studios, not to mention the one-off titles or new series in development at those studios and ZeniMax's other subsidiaries.

Microsoft has already indicated the path it will take, as a number of ZeniMax games have made their way to Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft has also confirmed that it will honor ZeniMax's existing exclusivity agreements, but what of future releases? Will major franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and DOOM continue to be multiplatform? Microsoft has only indicated that it'll decide that on a case-by-case basis.

Of course, it seems silly that Microsoft would shell out that much money for ZeniMax just to keep releasing games on competing hardware, but time will ultimately tell. We'll let you know more about this acquisition when there's additional news to share, so stay tuned.