The official Xbox blog reports that Microsoft has acquired ZeniMax media, the parent company of the publisher Bethesda Softworks, which includes a dozen of internal studios that develop popular video games. Microsoft plans to run Bethesda as its own division, but its leadership and structure will remain intact.
Bethesda is one of the world’s largest privately-held gaming developers, whose studios have produced some of the most critically acclaimed titles, including Doom, Fallout, and The Elder Scrolls. It is also the developer of a highly-anticipated Starfield unreleased title.
“And, we have a long history of working with Microsoft. Our companies share many of the same basic principles. We believe in a culture that values passion, quality, collaboration, and innovation. When I think back to the first time we decided to shift from being a PC-only developer and make Morrowind for the original Xbox, it was a move that countless people said would never work…nobody on consoles wanted a game that big and complex. But Microsoft believed in us and so did you. And now RPGs of all shapes and sizes are hugely successful on consoles,” reads Bethesda’s statement.
Pete Hines, the senior vice president of global marketing & communications at Bethesda Softworks, added: “But 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.
The head of the gaming division of Microsoft, Phil Spencer, also announced the news on Twitter:
All employees of publishing offices and development teams joined the company, which is about 2,300 people in total. As part of the deal, Microsoft will control the following studios and their projects:
- Bethesda Game Studios. The developer of The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Starfield.
- id Software. Doom, Quake.
- Arkane. Dishonored, Prey (2017), Deathloop.
- Roundhouse Studios. Prey (2006).
- MachineGames. Wolfenstein.
- Tango Gameworks. The Evil Within, Ghostwire: Tokyo.
- ZeniMax Online Studios. The Elder Scrolls Online.
Microsoft acquired the rights to Dishonored, Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, The Elder Scrolls, Prey, Starfield, and other projects. Xbox says that the publisher’s future games will be available with a Game Pass subscription package the day they come to PCs and consoles.
The purchase amounted to $7.5 billion, which is one of the largest deals for the gaming industry and is three times more than Microsoft paid for Mojang, the creator of Minecraft. The tech giant bought game franchise Minecraft for $2.5 billion six years ago.
Microsoft is expected to continue to develop games not only for the Xbox but also for other platforms, as in the case with Minecraft. The company will also honor existing agreements regarding PlayStation 5 exclusives such as Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo.
As both new Xbox and PlayStation consoles are set to launch in November, the deal puts Microsoft in a key position in terms of title exclusivity, bringing Bethesda’s games to Xbox Game Pass, a monthly video game subscription service that gives players access to more than 100 games.
Bethesda and Microsoft's deal marks the latter now having control of some of the game industry's most popular franchises.