Just a few minutes ago (while my morning coffee was brewing), Microsoft announced plans to acquire storied game developer and publisher Bethesda Softworks' parent company Zenimax Media in a $7.5 billion deal - three times what the company paid for Minecraft creator Mojang Studios in 2014. The acquisition would bring some of the largest franchises in gaming, such as The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, DOOM, Dishonored and more under Microsoft’s umbrella just ahead of a new generation of consoles and the release of Microsoft’s Xbox Series X and Series S.
Microsoft’s timing is impeccable. The upcoming Xbox Series X and Series S, which were already maligned (as were previous Xbox consoles) for their lack of console-exclusive titles, become available for preorder tomorrow, and fans taking the $300 or $500 plunge into the next generation now have the promise of receiving some of the most popular franchises in gaming further down the line.
In a press release about the deal, Microsoft also expressed an intent to bring all of Bethesda’s new games, such as Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI, to its Xbox Game Pass subscription service on the same day they launch. Xbox Game Pass is a service which gives customers access to a vast downloadable library of games for a monthly subscription, and is available on Windows computers as well.
If this deal means that Bethesda’s future catalogue will be exclusive to Xbox and Windows from here on out, as it likely does, then it’s harder to argue now that the Series X and Series S are lacking in comparison to Sony’s wealth of exclusive titles lined up for the Playstation 5 and from the previous generation. The deal also means that the now-Microsoft-owned Bethesda is currently developing two Playstation 5 exclusive titles: Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo.
The new Xbox consoles will be available for pre-order tomorrow, and today’s news sweetens the deal. The effort to announce this acquisition just one day prior looks especially bad for Sony, which bungled the pre-orders for its new Playstations so badly that it issued an apology and assured customers it would restocking supply soon, as some players received notice from Amazon that their pre-order would be arriving after the console’s launch day due to high demand.
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