On 21 September, Microsoft confirmed that it had bought Bethesda’s parent company, Zenimax Media, bringing notable franchises like Doom, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Wolfenstein under the Xbox banner. But what does this mean for the games developers, and arguably most importantly, the loyal fans.
Acquiring companies is nothing new for Microsoft. In 2014 it announced that it had integrated Mojang, creators of Minecraft, into the Xbox family with a deal worth $2.5 billion. The sheer scale of this latest deal triples that, not to mention the lasting consequences that this might have with the parallel release of next-gen consoles. The Zenimax deal is the third largest purchase made by Microsoft across all industries and is one of the largest acquisitions in gaming history.
With this deal, Microsoft now owns 23 studios, adding the likes of Arkane Studios (creators of Dishonoured), id Software (developers of Doom) and MachineGames (creators of Wolfenstein) to its roster. The sheer quantity of studios now operating under the Microsoft banner has raised questions over whether microsoft is now on its way to carving out a monopoly of its own akin to Disney in the film and TV industry. Games such as the much-anticipated next installment of the Elder Scrolls franchise could become a Xbox exclusive, pushing fans towards the Xbox series X for their choice in next generation consoles.
Yet arguably this could be just the thing that Bethesda needs to reinvigorate itself. The studio suffered a massive fallout with Fallout 76, with what fans considered a poor launch and yet another underwhelming pay-to-play. With Arkane Studios’ Dishonoured 2 underperforming, it seemed that the gaming powerhouse was waning. But with the promise of the financial security and resources at the disposal of Microsoft, the parties involved could see a fresh new wave of classics that we know Bethesda and others can create.
Moreover, could the vast library of games from Zenimax Media now feature in Xbox All Access? If so, gamers could enjoy an expanded library varying from Minecraft to Halo, and now Elder Scrolls. Whatever you may make of this, it can safely be said that Microsoft is carving out its stronghold in the highly competitive gaming industry. Although the question remains: will Microsoft start snowballing with its expansionism or will competitors strike back in the ongoing console wars?[Featured image: Xbox]