Microsoft wants all the marbles – and they got them. They’ve just announced their $7.5B purchase of the entertainment software company Zenimax, who in turn owns Bethesda Softworks, creators of Fallout and the Elder Scrolls franchises, and Id Software, creators of the Doom, Rage and Wolfenstein franchised. This one purchase gives Microsoft a good list of some of the hottest titles and franchises on the planet.
In a world where gaming consoles are so advanced that only computer scientists fully understand the differences, the marketplace is now driven almost entirely by titles and content, and Microsoft understands this – the move marks a significant purchase in the gaming world and strengthens Microsoft’s Xbox lineup ahead of a new launch in November.
The move grows the number of in-house Xbox game development studios to 23, up from 15 earlier, giving it control of some of the game industry’s most popular franchises. Microsoft also plans to run Bethesda as its own division, with leadership and structure intact.
Microsoft’s move comes a couple of months before the November launch of both Microsoft’s and Sony’s new game consoles. The new XBox Series X will debut at the $500 price point, with the Xbox Series S coming in at $300. Both new systems promise better visuals and performance than previous systems, but these days that’s a given, and expected, so it’s hardly newsworthy. The XBox Series S being $100 cheaper than Sony’s diskless Playstation 5 Digital Edition may drive a considerable chunk of the console market into their embrace simply because of how expensive all the new consoles are.
The two companies pitched the deal as an expansion of an already close partnership that’s spanned decades. “The big winners today are our fans,” ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman said in a statement. “Our games can only get better.”
Microsoft’s buying of ZeniMax acquisition comes on the heels of a failed bid for a stake in the China-based social network TikTok. They had just spent the last month scrambling to grab a chunk of the app after President Trump threatened to ban the app from U.S. app stores if it wasn’t bought by a US company.
The purchase also reduces Microsoft’s competition as they launch their new platform in terms of content. They had the space marines Halo and racing Forenza niches, but this purchase broadens their holdings enough to give them the variety they want without having to negotiate for individual titles. Instead, they’ve picked up entire catalogs.
“Today is a landmark step,” said Phil Spencer, Executive VP of Gaming at Microsoft.
Bethesda’s and ID Software’s catalogs of hit games will be added to Microsoft’s Xbox Games Pass service, which now boasts more than 15 million subscribers.