September 22, 2020
Microsoft just purchased ZeniMax Media, a large independent game publisher whose studios have produced some of the video game industry’s most notable titles: id Software, which developed “Doom” and “Quake”; Arkane Studios, responsible for “Dishonored” and “Prey”; Tango Gameworks, developer of “The Evil Within”; and Bethesda Game Studios, home of “The Elder Scrolls” and “Fallout.” With regulatory approval expected by the second half of next year, Microsoft paid $7.5 billion in an all-cash deal for the publisher.
Engadget reports that, in 2016, ZeniMax Media was valued at “around $2.5 billion and has been the subject of takeover speculation for much of the year,” with a statement published on Reddit intimating that Sony was one of the company’s suitors.
Microsoft executive vice president of gaming Phil Spencer, who leads the Xbox brand, said that, “the relationship between Microsoft and ZeniMax’s studios has always been cordial.” He added that, “the deal will see a number of Bethesda titles being added to Xbox Game Pass for both console and PC players in the coming months.”
It also notes that, “Microsoft will soon the own the publisher behind a couple of PlayStation exclusive titles,” with Tango Gameworks’ “Ghostwire: Tokyo” and Arkane’s “Deathloop,” which are “both headed for the PS5 with no clear indication if they’ll ever make it to the Xbox.”
In its press release, Microsoft notes that the purchase of ZeniMax Media is taking place in the context of the gaming industry transforming “from a device-centric era to a player-centric era powered by new technology that provides the freedom to play with friends anywhere on any device.” It adds that, “with the addition of Bethesda, Microsoft will grow from 15 to 23 creative studio teams.”
Microsoft stated its intent to add “Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass,” including bringing that company’s games into Xbox Game Pass “the same day they launch on Xbox or PC.” That includes Bethseda’s upcoming space epic “Starfield.” Microsoft’s cloud-gaming service Xbox Game Pass now has 15+ million subscribers.
Microsoft’s purchase comprises 2,300+ employees at Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. ZeniMax Media chair and chief executive Robert Altman founded the company in 1999; Microsoft stated that, “Bethesda’s structure and leadership will remain in place.”