Microsoft Acquires Skyrim, Fallout, And Doom Dev Bethesda

Microsoft has announced that it has acquired the parent company of Bethesda's game studios including those behind Doom, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and more.

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Microsoft has announced a $7.5 billion deal to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Works and its many studios. Those studios, including Bethesda Game Studios and id Software, are behind some big video game franchises including Doom, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and many more. That marks a massive expansion to the Xbox Game Studios lineup, which grows from 15 internal studios to 23.

In an Xbox blog post announcing the acquisition, Xbox head Phil Spencer outlined that this deal includes the studios behind franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, Doom, Dishonored, Prey, and Quake, along with upcoming games like Starfield. It also mentions that Bethesda was early to support Game Pass with offerings like The Elder Scrolls, and that moving forward Bethesda's library will be added to the service as each game releases. That will include launch-day Game Pass releases for future projects like Starfield. Game Pass is a key factor in the acquisition.

"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," Spencer said. "All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you."

Spencer also appeared on CNBC to discuss the deal. When asked directly if Microsoft would make any cuts to the company, Spencer replied, "Our plan is to leave it alone."

Separately, the announcement from Bethesda offers some further explanation of why Microsoft seemed like an appropriate match for the company, including their long partnership of working together. "So why the change? Because it allows us to make even better games going forward," Bethesda PR and marketing boss Pete Hines said. "Microsoft is an incredible partner and offers access to resources that will make us a better publisher and developer. We believe that means better games for you to play. Simply put - we believe that change is an important part of getting better. We believe in pushing ourselves to be better. To innovate. To grow."

Hines also noted that Bethesda will still publish its own games. It's unclear what changes, if any, might happen on that front, including changes involving exclusivity on future games. We do know PS5 console exclusives Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo will still remain PS5 console exclusives.

According to Bloomberg, these two games will still see their arrangements honored, while future games will be evaluated for third-party console releases "on a case-by-case basis." This presumably means that Doom Eternal is still coming to Switch as well.

"Like our original partnership, this one is about more than one system or one screen," said Elder Scrolls and Fallout producer Todd Howard, in a statement. "We share a deep belief in the fundamental power of games, in their ability to connect, empower, and bring joy. And a belief we should bring that to everyone--regardless of who you are, where you live, or what you play on. Regardless of the screen size, the controller, or your ability to even use one."

It's important to note that the deal hasn't officially gone through yet, although that process may be more of a formality than anything else. In its press release, Microsoft said it expects the deal to close in the second half of its current fiscal year, which would mean that will happen sometime between January and June of 2021.

This is one of Microsoft's pricier acquisitions, coming in far above Mojang ($2.5 billion) and Minecraft, their previous largest developer purchase. This sale value is roughly equal to the amount the company paid for GitHub. And, while a much different sort of deal, it's also far more than something like Disney's Lucasfilm deal, which was worth $4.05 billion and gave Disney control of Star Wars. The ZeniMax acquisition includes eight new studios in all (plus publisher Bethesda Softworks), covering a wide array of franchises:

  • Bethesda Softworks
  • Bethesda Game Studios
  • id Software
  • ZeniMax Online Studios
  • Arkane
  • MachineGames
  • Tango Gameworks
  • Alpha Dog
  • Roundhouse Studios

Fans were quick to point out this brings both Bethesda (with the Fallout IP) and Obsidian (developer of Fallout: New Vegas) into the same house, which they're hoping could pave the way for Fallout: New Vegas 2. Even Obsidian weighed in on the matter, albeit with as inconclusive of a response as possible.

This announcement is notably coming just one day before preorders go live for Xbox Series X and Series S. For more details, check out our Xbox Series X and Series S preorder guide.

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