Microsoft has acquired Bethesda Games, the company behind much-beloved hits like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and Doom. Microsoft announced the deal this morning on its company blog. Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox brand, writes:
"Today is a special day, as we welcome some of the most accomplished studios in the games industry to Xbox. We are thrilled to announce Microsoft has entered into an agreement to acquire ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks."
Bethesda is a veritable giant in the gaming industry. The acquisition could mean a whole slew of new exclusives for the next-gen Xbox Series X.
Wait, really?! — Yeah, we're just as surprised as you are. Both Microsoft and Bethesda did a great job of keeping their lips sealed on this deal. It's all the more explosive as a reveal this way.
Microsoft is actually buying ZeniMax Media, the company that owns Bethesda. Zenimax was founded in 1999 by Bethesda founder Chris Weaver and Robert Altman, the company's current CEO. Zenimax has operated entirely on its own for the past two decades. Specter writes of the company:
"Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways. All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you."
ZeniMax has done very, very well for itself in those two decades, producing absolutely major hits like The Elder Scrolls, Doom, and Fallout — hence the $7.5 billion Microsoft was willing to put out for this acquisition.
Oh, it's on — Microsoft is in full-on next-gen console wars battle mode and this is an A+ move from the company.
Sony and Microsoft are neck-in-neck in the race for the next biggest console. Both the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X have impressive hardware packed into them. Both are priced at $499; both have budget-friendly disc-less options. Both have options for all-you-can-stream subscription services.
One of the biggest pulls to each console, then, will be their respective exclusives. Sony has an absolutely packed lineup of launch titles, which has sent the console's preorders into overdrive. Microsoft's launch titles are, in comparison, very light.
But all that could change now that Microsoft owns Bethesda. We're talking Xbox-exclusive Fallout; Xbox-exclusive Elder Scrolls; Xbox-exclusive Prey and Xbox-exclusive Wolfenstein. Microsoft all but confirmed that all of Bethesda's future games will be exclusive to the Xbox and PC:
"We will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass for console and PC. One of the things that has me most excited is seeing the roadmap with Bethesda’s future games, some announced and many unannounced, to Xbox console and PC including Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios."
In order to play any of the new iterations of these fan favorites in the future, those fans will need to purchase a new Xbox. That's a massive pull — one that will surely send Xbox Series X (and S) sales soaring.