Traditionally, manufacturers buy up studios to tempt gamers to their platforms with exclusive releases.
"By now I am sure that most of you have heard the exciting news: ZeniMax Media (the parent company of ZeniMax Online Studios) has signed a deal to be acquired by Microsoft, including Bethesda Softworks and all of its studios, including ZOS", ZeniMax Online Studios director Matt Firor said in a statement released on Twitter.
Microsoft has agreed to acquire ZeniMax Media - Bethesda's parent company - for $7.5b Dollars ($10.38b in Australia). "Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways".
"We will be adding Bethesda's iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass for console and PC", Xbox chief Phil Spencer says in a Microsoft blog.
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Microsoft is buying the massive game publisher behind franchises like "Fallout", "The Elder Scrolls", and "Doom" in a deal worth $US7.5 billion in cash, the company announced on Monday.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer told CNBC: "They'll come to Game Pass day-and-date and people will have just an fantastic collection of games to play on Xbox".
Pricing of the consoles is similar, and PlayStation is thought to have an edge but players are strongly driven by game content. In 2018 and 2019, it acquired Double Fine Productions, Obsidian Entertainment, Playground Games, and several other smaller studios, almost doubling its roster of subsidiaries from eight to 15. However, new IP, or games from other smaller Bethesda studios may well end up being Xbox/PC exclusive.
Smaller and medium-sized studios were ideal acquisition targets for Microsoft over the past couple of years as it focused on concluding the Xbox One era, however, with Microsoft's recent and dramatic expansion of storefronts and services, the company may have the tools to financially support and distribute Bethesda games at its current scale.
As yet, there's no word on what sort of exclusivity arrangements will be in place moving forward, but you'd have to imagine it means a number of major games, like the aforementioned Starfield, could be destined to be Microsoft exclusives, which would be a massive scoop for the brand. Bloomberg's Jason Schreier reports that Microsoft paid $7.5 billion for the ZeniMax acquisition.