There Is A Good Reason Why Microsoft Can't Talk About The Bethesda Buyout Just Yet

Xbox boss Phil Spencer explains why he is limited in what he can say about the blockbuster deal.


In September, Microsoft announced one of the biggest gaming acquisitions in history when it revealed its intentions to purchase ZeniMax, and its subsidiary Bethesda, for a cool $7.5 billion. People understandably have a lot of questions about the deal--like if The Elder Scrolls 6 will come to PlayStation 5--and so far, Microsoft has only given vague answers about the future.

It turns out there is a very good reason for that. Xbox boss Phil Spencer told GameReactor that he cannot say much of substance about the deal due to legal requirements. Technically speaking, Microsoft has only announced its intention to purchase ZeniMax; the deal to buy the company is not expected to close until early 2021. While Spencer said he does not foresee any issues in the regulatory process to approve the deal, it remains "illegal" for him to discuss specifics right now.

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"First of all, I would like to say that we haven't acquired ZeniMax. We have announced our intention to acquire ZeniMax. It is going through regulatory approval and we don't see any issues there. We expect early in 2021 the deal will close," he said. "But I say that because I want people to know, I'm not sitting down with Todd Howard and Robert Altman and planning their future. Because I'm currently not allowed to do that, that would be illegal."

Right now, Spencer said he is focused on getting the deal done, and not on going through ZeniMax's portfolio and outlining the future of each franchise and studio.

That being said, Spencer mentioned that his long-term plan for ZeniMax is for all of its studios to "create the best games they ever created." Spencer recalled a conversation he had with Bethesda boss Todd Howard when they were discussing the potential sale.

"We looked each other in the eyes and we said, 'Okay, what are we really gonna do here?' And he said, 'I wanna build the best games that I've ever built and I want the support of Microsoft to be able to do that.' And I say the same thing about the studios at Arkane and id Software and Machine Games. I want them to do the most amazing work and support them in doing that."

The $7.5 billion that Microsoft paid to acquire Bethesda represents the second-largest gaming acquisition in history, only behind Tencent's $8.6 billion acquisition of Clash of Clans developer Supercell.

A big question many have about future Bethesda games is if they will be released on consoles and platforms that rival Microsoft's. Spencer has said the deals that were already in place for games that have been announced will be honored, but the future is less certain. Publishing arrangements for specific titles will be determined on a case-by-case basis, Spencer has suggested.

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