FILE PHOTO: The Xbox logo is seen while gamers wait for the Microsoft Xbox E3 2017 media briefing in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Microsoft announced it plans to acquire ZeniMax Media and its game publisher Bethesda Softworks for $7.5 billion in cash. With the addition of Bethesda, Microsoft increased its number of creative studio teams from 15 to 23. The acquisition is expected to close in the second half of fiscal year 2021 and will mark Microsoft’s biggest video game purchase to date.

In a blog post, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer emphasized the “storied history” of Xbox and Bethesda’s games. He stated that all Bethesda games will be available on Xbox Game Pass for console and PC. The acquisition includes franchises such as “The Elder Scrolls,” “Fallout,” “DOOM,” “Quake,” “Wolfenstein” and “Dishonored,” among others.

Microsoft has leaned heavily on Game Pass, its game subscription service, to draw in users and boost revenue. It said Game Pass now has 15 million subscribers, up from the 10 million announced in April.

Pete Hines, SVP of PR and Marketing at Bethesda, said in a blog post, “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.” He added that the acquisition will offer access to resources to make the company a “better publisher and developer.”

Studio Director of ZeniMax Online Studios Matt Firor said in a Tweet that Elder Scrolls Online will continue to be supported as it was in the past on Xbox, Playstation, and PC. Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo, two upcoming 2021 releases, will remain timed PS5 exclusives.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Microsoft is acquiring Bethesda Softworks parent company ZeniMax – The Verge – 9/21/2020
Microsoft will launch its next-generation consoles on November 10th, and preorders open tomorrow. This acquisition also brings the company’s total list of internal studios to 23, following the addition of Bethesda sub-studios like Dishonored developer Arkane, Wolfenstein studio MachineGames, Doom maker id Software, and The Evil Within studio Tango Gameworks. However, Microsoft says Bethesda will retain its existing leadership.

Microsoft to Buy Game Company ZeniMax Media, Parent of Bethesda Softworks, for $7.5 Billion – Variety – 9/21/2020
With the addition of Bethesda, Microsoft will expand from 15 to 23 creative studio teams. The deal is Microsoft’s biggest ever in the games sector; in 2014, Microsoft acquired “Minecraft” maker Mojang in a $2.5 billion deal.

Microsoft purchases Bethesda Softworks in industry-changing acquisition – Ars Technica – 9/21/2020
In the near term, though, Bethesda is still working on two console-exclusive titles for the PS5, Ghostwire: Tokyo and Deathloop. Both those games have featured heavily in Sony’s console marketing this year, ahead of expected launches in 2021. It is likely too late to change deal structures and platform-release plans for those titles (which are also coming to PC), which means Microsoft could well be behind two of the PS5’s biggest console exclusives next year.

Why Microsoft’s $7.5B purchase of Bethesda’s parent ZeniMax is a big deal for Xbox – CNET – 9/21/2020
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. Microsoft also plans to run Bethesda as its own division, with leadership and structure intact. 

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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