Microsoft has purchased Zenimax/Bethesda for $7.5bn

Ruben Fields
September 22, 2020

Bethesda is responsible for the bestselling Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises, as well as the Doom and Wolfenstein series. In 2018 and 2019, it acquired Double Fine Productions, Obsidian Entertainment, Playground Games, and several other smaller studios, almost doubling its roster of subsidiaries from eight to 15.

Technically, Microsoft now has the power to make the iconic Master Chief from the Halo franchise and the technically unnamed protagonist of the Doom series team up smooch. Microsoft's Phil Spencer has said that Microsoft will honor that agreement.

News of the ZeniMax and Bethesda comes after Microsoft is set to release its next-generation Xbox consoles this fall: Set to ship November 10 are the entry-level Xbox Series S (for $299) and the Xbox Series X ($499). ZeniMax already has a contract to make Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo exclusives on the Sony PlayStation 5.

This could, of course, be referring to Xbox's existing openness - its multi-generational release structure for games, and new cloud streaming services.

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According to ex-Game informer and current Kinda Funny co-host, Imran Khan, Sony was negotiating about a possible timed-exclusivity deal for the upcoming Starfield as recently as a few months ago.

The move grows the number of in-house Xbox game development studios to 23, up from 15 earlier, giving it control of some of the game industry's most popular franchises. Over the years I've had many deep conversations with the creative leaders at Bethesda on the future of gaming and we've long shared similar visions for the opportunities for creators and their games to reach more players in more ways. It has been building up Xbox Game Studios by acquiring companies like Rare and Ninja Theory. If Bethesda will be publishing its own games after the acquisition, it could imply that the company will continue to create games for all platforms possible.

Starfield has yet to attract a release date but is believed to be next out the door from Bethesda, with The Elder Scrolls 6 even further away. The deal is Microsoft's biggest ever in the games sector; in 2014, Microsoft acquired "Minecraft" maker Mojang in a $2.5 billion deal.

Bethesda's games have always had a special place on Xbox and in the hearts of millions of gamers around the world.

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