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Microsoft have bought Bethesda

Update: Microsoft say they’ll “keep the commitment” to bring Bethesda’s Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo to PS5 as timed exclusives. More below.

Microsoft just announced they’ve bought ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda. The developers of games such as Skyrim, Fallout, Dishonored, Prey, Doom, Quake and all those classics are now technically Xbox Game Studios. Xbox boss Phil Spencer made a post welcoming the developers, in what he calls a “landmark step” for both Microsoft and Bethesda.

What a year.

“Bethesda’s games have always had a special place on Xbox and in the hearts of millions of gamers around the world,” Spencer says. “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.”

The acquisition is costing Microsoft $7.5 billion, and includes Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. With these, Microsoft will grow from 15 to 23 creative studio teams.

For a bit of context on that money, Microsoft bought Minecraft studio Mojang or $2.5 billion in 2014, and Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion. Them’s big bucks.

“We share a deep belief in the fundamental power of games, in their ability to connect, empower, and bring joy,” said Bethesda’s Todd Howard. “And a belief we should bring that to everyone – regardless of who you are, where you live, or what you play on. Regardless of the screen size, the controller, or your ability to even use one.”

While some Bethesda games, like Fallout 76, are already on Xbox Game Pass, Spencer mentions that they’ll be adding more of their “iconic franchises”, too. He also teases how excited he is for the developer’s “many unannounced” things, as well as upcoming games such as Starfield, which, yep, sounds like that’ll definitely be on PC and Xbox when it comes out.

“We’re still Bethesda,” says SVP of marketing and comms, Pete Hines. “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.”

“Yes, it’s a big change for us, but after taking a minute to absorb the magnitude of this acquisition, we’re going to continue doing what we know and love: making great games.”

This news raises a lot of questions about Bethesda’s future games, though. For one, Arkane Studios’ Deathloop and Tango Gameworks’ GhostWire: Tokyo are both supposed to launch as timed exclusives on the PlayStation 5 next year.

Update: According to a report on Bloomberg, Microsoft are committed to bringing Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo to PS5 as timed exclusives. As for other upcoming games like the next Elder Scrolls and Starfield, those will be available on Xbox, PC and Game Pass, as well “other consoles on a case-by-case basis”, says Spencer.

And here I thought the Xbox Series X and S release date announcement was exciting. Those are launching on November 10th, on the off-chance you missed it.

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Imogen Beckhelling

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Imogen is a lore enthusiast and lover of all the fun shenanigans game communities get up to. She spends too much time playing Overwatch, and not enough time having interests that aren't to do with video games.

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