People were wondering if Microsoft would have anything further to announce prior to the opening of pre-orders for the Xbox Series line of consoles on Tuesday, and it turns out they did with the bombshell acquisition of ZeniMax Media.
The deal announced Monday, set to be finalized in the second half of the 2021 fiscal year, sees Microsoft take control of ZeniMax’s entire 2,300-strong employees and intellectual property (IP) – a group of nine studios that includes Bethesda, id Software, Arkane Studios among others and control of storied franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Dishonored, and Quake, as well as the upcoming Starfield.
The cost? A staggering $7.5 billion – making this the second largest-ever acquisition in gaming history, trailing only the Tencent/Supercell deal’s $8.6 billion valuation.
It puts Microsoft in the unusual position of publishing a pair of exclusives – albeit timed exclusives – on a competing platform, as they now own both the Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo IP. The company has committed to honouring those deals, but noted that future games would appear on Xbox and PC, with ‘other platforms’ decided on a case by case basis.
This probably means we’ve seen the last of major franchises like The Elder Scrolls on Playstation, as it’s unlikely Microsoft wants to lay out $7.5 billion to bolster their first-party studios and not use those studios to make their own platforms look more attractive. We’ll probably still see smaller titles spread out to other platforms, and they will continue to support ongoing games like Elder Scrolls Online the same way they continue to support Minecraft on other platforms.
For Xbox owners with Game Pass, this is incredible news, as all of ZeniMax’s past games will now be appearing on the service – starting with DOOM Eternal coming soon – and all new games will debut day and date on it.
Combine that with EA Play being rolled into Game Pass and suddenly that whole ‘Netflix of gaming’ is a lot more real.