EU Approves Microsoft's Bethesda Acquisition, Clearing Another Big Hurdle

The regulatory group was one of the biggest roadblocks standing in the way of Microsoft buying Bethesda.

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Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda is one step closer to a reality, as one of the last big roadblocks has now been cleared: the European Commission has approved Microsoft's purchase. The acquisition was approved without conditions, and pending approval in the US, it appears the $7.5 billion deal will indeed come to fruition. [Update: Indeed, Microsoft has officially bought Bethesda parent company ZeniMax.]

The ruling was similar to other Microsoft purchases (including GitHub most recently), with the competition commission finding that the merger "does not raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market." Once the purchase is final, Microsoft's in-house studio tally will jump up to 23, with studios such as Arkane Studios (Prey, Deathloop), iD Software (Doom), MachineGames (Wolfenstein), Bethesda Game Studios (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim), Tango Gameworks (Ghostwire: Tokyo), and more joining the fold.

As part of the new arrangement, Bethesda's future games will release on Xbox Game Pass for no extra charge the same day they launch elsewhere. It's unclear if Microsoft will move toward making future Bethesda games purely Xbox and PC titles, though it's honoring the agreement between Bethesda and Sony to make Deathloop a timed PlayStation exclusive. A new subsidiary called Vault has also been created to handle Bethesda properties in the future.

Microsoft is rumored to be hosting an event later this month, where it could potentially detail some of the plans it has for future Bethesda titles. The question around exclusivity has been a hot topic since the merger was announced in September last year and could be telling for the futures of projects such as Starfield, The Elder Scrolls VI, and more.

This acquisition is one of the biggest in the history of the games industry. For instance, when Microsoft acquired Mojang, the studio behind the massively popular Minecraft, the price was only $2.5 billion.

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