Ahead of the launch of its next-gen consoles, the Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft has purchased video game publisher ZeniMax Media Inc. for an astonishing $7.5 billion.
The two companies announced the move on Monday, with the deal expected to be finalized by Q3 of 2021's fiscal year. Among the studios Microsoft now owns as a result of the acquisition include Elder Scrolls and Fallout developer Bethesda Game Studios, Doom developer id Software, Wolfenstein developer MachineGames, Dishonored developer Arkane Studios, and Evil Within developer Tango Gameworks.
"As one of the largest, most critically acclaimed, privately held game developers and publishers in the world, Bethesda is an incredibly talented group of 2,300 people worldwide who make up some of the most accomplished creative studios in our industry across Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios," wrote Xbox head Phil Spencer in a blog post. "These are the teams responsible for franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Dishonored, Prey, Quake, Starfield and many more."
The news comes not long after Sony announced that two Bethesda-published games, Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo, would debut exclusively on the PlayStation 5 next year before landing on other platforms later. It is unclear whether the acquisition will impact the exclusivity of these two games, although any deals between Sony and ZeniMax Media would have been signed before Microsoft bought the company.
As for the future of franchises such as the always-popular Elder Scrolls series, it remains to be seen if Microsoft will make it exclusive to Xbox and PC going forward. Phil Spencer's statement didn't indicate what would happen either way, but for the time being Microsoft has confirmed all new Bethesda and ZeniMax games will join the Xbox Game Pass when they release.
"The key point is we’re still Bethesda. 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," added Bethesda's Pete Hines. "So why the change? Because it allows us to make even better games going forward. 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."