Microsoft has announced the acquisition of Bethesda Software – the video games company behind blockbuster titles including The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, DOOM, Quake, Wolfenstein, and Dishonored, among others.
The global tech giant is paying £5.85bn for Bethesda Software’s parent ZeniMax Media.
Microsoft, the owners of Xbox, revealed that the acquisitions’ franchises would be added to its Game Pass subscription package for its consoles and PCs. The move could help make the imminent arrival of the Xbox Series X more attractive than the PlayStation 5 to some players – as the ‘console wars’ look set to start again for the next generation in November.
Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft said: “Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialize and play with their friends. Quality differentiated content is the engine behind the growth and value of Xbox Game Pass—from Minecraft to Flight Simulator. As a proven game developer and publisher, Bethesda has seen success across every category of games, and together, we will further our ambition to empower the more than three billion gamers worldwide.
“This is an awesome time to be an Xbox fan. In the last 10 days alone, we’ve released details on our two new consoles which go on pre-order tomorrow, launched cloud gaming in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and now we’re making another investment in the most critical part of our strategy: the games,” said Phil Spencer, executive vice president, Gaming at Microsoft. “Generations of gamers have been captivated by the renowned franchises in the Bethesda portfolio and will continue to be so for years to come as part of Xbox.”
The planned acquisition includes publishing offices and development studios spanning the globe with over 2,300 employees, including Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. Bethesda’s critically acclaimed and best-selling franchises include The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, DOOM, Quake, Wolfenstein, and Dishonored, among others.
Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media was founded in 1999 by Chairman and CEO Robert A. Altman; Bethesda’s structure and leadership will remain in place.
He said: “This is a thrilling day for this company, our employees, and our fans. We have enjoyed a close partnership with Microsoft for decades, and this deal is a natural progression of those years working together. The big winners today are our fans. We are continuing to develop our slate of AAA games, but now with Microsoft’s scale and entire Game Stack, our games can only get better.”
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review, however, Microsoft expects the acquisition to close in the second half of fiscal year 2021.