Bethesda parent scores $300 million, readying expansion

ZeniMax Media gets massive funding package to help develop massively multiplayer titles and other game development; PS3 Shivering Isles coming to Sony's console solo.

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Recent headlines show that making games has become a big business. One month ago, an Abu Dhabi-based firm invested $500 million in Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Two weeks ago, Electronic Arts bought BioWare/Pandemic for $860 million, seven days before NPD reported September was a $1.3 billion month for the US game industry.

Today, another major deal was announced. ZeniMax Media, owner of Bethesda Softworks, announced it has landed a massive investment from Providence Equity Partners Inc. In return for an undisclosed amount of preferred stock, the company will receive $300 million in funding to "increase game development and publishing, facilitate acquisitions, and finance massively multiplayer online games."

The MMOG projects in question are being developed under much secrecy at ZeniMax Online, which opened its doors this past August. Much of the remainder of the money will be used to "allow ZeniMax and Bethesda to think several steps ahead and grow," a spokesperson told GameSpot. Though next to nothing is known about the MMOG projects, Bethesda's upcoming releases include next month's Star Trek: Conquest (Wii, PlayStation 2) and next year's Fallout 3 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC).

Also as a result of the deal, Providence managing director Michael Dominguez will sit on ZeniMax's board of directors. Other members of the board include CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves, MGM Chairman and CEO Harry Sloan, former baseball player and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., and famed film and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

In other Bethesda-related news, the developer-publisher just announced it will release the Elder Scrolls IV: The Shivering Isles as an independent product for the PlayStation 3 on November 20. The expansion pack, which was released on PC and Xbox 360 via disc and download earlier this year, was previously only available for the PS3 as part of the Game of the Year Edition of the original Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, released earlier this month. The Elder Scrolls IV: The Shivering Isles PS3 expansion will retail for just $29.99, but will require Oblivion to play.

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