Microsoft has announced a whopper of an acquisition, revealing this morning that it has entered into an agreement to purchase ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion in cash. While not as massive as other major players like Electronic Arts or Activision, ZeniMax Media is still a very big publisher in its own right, with a fairly long list of subsidiaries that includes Bethesda Softworks, Arkane Studios, and id Software.
With this deal, those developers are joining Xbox Game Studios, which means that major franchises like The Elder Scrolls, DOOM, Fallout, Wolfenstein, Prey, Dishonored, and Quake are now first-party Microsoft games. Microsoft’s relationship with Bethesda (and by extension, ZeniMax) goes way back, too – Bethesda got its start as a PC-only developer, and when it made the decision to begin bringing its games to consoles, it started by porting The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind to the original Xbox.
In a post to Bethesda’s website, SVP of global marketing and communications Pete Hines explained that Bethesda will still be Bethesda after the acquisition is complete. “We’re still working on the same games we were yesterday, made by the same studios we’ve worked with for years, and those games will be published by us,” Hines said.
“So why the change? Because it allows us to make even better games going forward,” he continued. “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.”
In a press release announcing the acquisition, Microsoft notes that with its purchase of ZeniMax Media, the number of developers operating under the Xbox Game Studios banner will balloon from 15 to 23. Just like all of Microsoft’s first party games, ZeniMax’s games will be joining the Xbox Game Pass library, and the titles these studios release from here on out will be added to Xbox Game Pass on day one.
So, just like that, Microsoft owns the companies responsible for a number of major game franchises – or at least it will when the acquisition closes in the second half of FY2021. Talk of exclusivity was notably absent from today’s various announcements and blog posts, but when let you know when more is shared on the fate of iconic franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and DOOM.