Microsoft has announced that they’re acquiring ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion. This means that the technology giant will now own the studios that make some of the biggest gaming franchises in the world, including Bethesda Game Studios’ Fallout and Elder Scrolls series, iD Software’s DOOM, MachineGames’ Wolfenstein and Arkane Studios’ Dishonored. The news is a bombshell for gamers, many of whom will have recently preordered a PlayStation 5 assuming that upcoming major titles like Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI will be released on the platform.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer unveiled the acquisition in a blog post earlier today, in which he said:
“As one of the largest, most critically acclaimed, privately held game developers and publishers in the worldBethesda is an incredibly talented group of 2300 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. These are the teams responsible for franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, Doom, Dishonored, Prey, Quake, Starfield and many more.”
“Bethesda’s games have always had a special place on Xbox and in the hearts of millions of gamers around the world. Our teams have a close and storied history working together, from the amazing first DOOM, and its id Tech engine, innovating games on PCs to Bethesda bringing their first console game to the original Xbox, the groundbreaking The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. 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.”
Now, it’s looking like all the aforementioned games and more will be console exclusive to Xbox Series X/S. This will be a big boost to Microsoft’s Xbox division, which has been trailing far behind Sony since the disastrous unveiling of the Xbox One way back in 2013. With PlayStation 5 preorders having unexpectedly begun last week and Xbox Series X’s starting tomorrow, this news could mean that we’re set for a rerun of the closely fought Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 generation.
Of course, Microsoft’s exclusivity strategy doesn’t mean these games will only be on Xbox consoles. As with other Microsoft-published titles, they’re going to turn up on PC, too, most likely as part of the Xbox Game Pass. That’s already great value, but if Microsoft begins putting heavy hitters like DOOM, DOOM: Eternal, Dishonored 2 and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus on there, they’re sure to see a big uptick in subscribers very soon.
Those losing out the most here are PS5 owners who don’t have a gaming PC or an Xbox. Maybe there’s a slim chance Microsoft will eventually allow titles like The Elder Scrolls VI on Sony consoles, but I suspect they didn’t pay $7.5 billion to release PlayStation games.