Bethesda Softworks, and parent company ZeniMax, are in the process of being bought by Microsoft for an eye-watering $7.5billion. The news came within hours of the pre-orders for Xbox’s next generation going on sale, and though it will be a while before we see the fruits of the deal, it got our collective mind racing on the sheer number of possibilities.
So we’ve put our heads together to give our takes on what might happen next, or what we think should. Got an idea of your own? Leave it in the comments. (If it’s good, we’ll be sure to pass it along – claiming it as our own, of course).
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Firstly, $7.5 billion is an insane amount of money. If you combine Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) and Marvel (Spider-Man, The Avengers, etc.) you get a little over $8 billion. As popular as properties like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout are, I’m not sure that they’re even in the same stratosphere.
Who am I to judge the business sense of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Head of Xbox Phil Spencer, though, right? Nobody, that’s who!
Setting the price aside, Zenimax is definitely a huge get for Xbox. While not all of the output has been stellar lately, studios under the Zenimax umbrella are responsible for some of the most acclaimed and beloved franchises out there. While the aforementioned Elder Scrolls and Fallout series are probably the biggest, there’s immense value in the likes of Dishonored, Doom, Wolfenstein and Prey too.
Whether or not Xbox will now hoard all of these games as exclusives remains to be seen. There’s a compelling argument either way: Microsoft can share them, looking like the good guy while PS5 players pay £70 per game and Xbox Series X/S, PC and Android users play everything at no additional cost via their Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions. Alternatively, they could cut PlayStation out completely to drive more console and subscription sales; it’d also put to bed the (formerly somewhat valid) assertion that Xbox has no exclusive games.
Corporate news like this isn't unusual in the technology world, one which Microsoft has a very large non-gaming presence in, let's not forget, but to hear these two major players in the industry had come together was a surprise.
Bethesda is a significant presence in the industry as far as individuals go as well. Todd Howard, while hardly the fan favourite since Fallout 76 missed expectations, has been at the top of every Xbox hardware announcement sizzle reel for years, so perhaps the deal is not as surprising as first thought.
The IPs folded into Xbox are interesting, but I'm more interested in the sort of cross-pollination we could see. Doom Slayer in a re-worked, hell-themed Firefight map in the next Halo anyone?
Anything which puts different ideas together in a fun, self-aware way is something I'm on board with. Whether the size and complexity of this new business juggernaut allows for that sort of fun and games we will have to see.
For those banking on Game Pass, we're already expecting a boost in potential games, and any push to finish Dishonored 2 is equally welcome.
Halo Reach's Kat and Emile turned up in Gears 5's multiplayer, so Microsoft aren't adverse to mixing things up.
What do you think of the Xbox-Bethesda deal? Let us know below.