Microsoft has purchased ZeniMax/Bethesda, what happens now?

Microsoft has made a massive acquisition, so what can we expect to see?

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Microsoft dominated conversations around the gaming industry when they announced that they would be acquiring ZeniMax Media and Bethesda in the early hours of September 21. With a mind-boggling price tag of $7.5 billion, this purchase puts the rights to iconic franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and Doom under the Xbox Game Studios banner. After the initial shock of this announcement, we find ourselves wondering, what happens next?

Going forward, new titles developed by Bethesda and its various studios will be first-party Xbox titles. This means that they will all be available on Game Pass day one. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer also shared that fans can expect to see beloved titles from Bethesda’s library make their way to Game Pass on Xbox and PC. This will likely be the first tangible ramification of the massive acquisition. 

Will Bethesda games still come to PlayStation?

Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has confirmed that both Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo will still launch as timed PlayStation exclusives.
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has confirmed that both Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo will still launch as timed PlayStation exclusives.

Xbox acquiring Bethesda means Phil Spencer and company are free to publish future titles solely for the Xbox and Windows, should they choose to do so. Those that prefer the PlayStation and have already locked in their PS5 preorders are likely to be put off by the implications behind the ZeniMax acquisition. It’s a very real possibility that games like Fallout 5 and The Elder Scrolls 6 won’t be playable on a Sony console. 

There is some reassuring news, however. When speaking about titles already planned to hit the PlayStation, Phil Spencer confirmed to Bloomberg that Microsoft would be honoring those obligations. He went on to say that the new owners of ZeniMax and Bethesda will “take other consoles on a case-by-case basis.” 

If I had to wager, I’d say it’s fairly likely that AAA franchises such as Fallout and The Elder Scrolls will still release on PlayStation. In recent years, we’ve seen Microsoft make a conscious effort to get their games in the hands of as many players as possible. Just take their work with xCloud and Game Pass PC as prime examples. Not allowing PlayStation’s enormous base of users to purchase the next Doom or Fallout would simply be turning down dump trucks worth of cash. Besides, we’ve seen Microsoft keep Minecraft multi-platform following their $2.5 billion acquisition of Mojang back in 2014

The Elder Scrolls 6 will launch as a first-party Xbox Game Studios title, available on Game Pass for console and PC.
The Elder Scrolls 6 will launch as a first-party Xbox Game Studios title, available on Game Pass for console and PC.

This idea is backed up by a quote from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “When we talk about our content, we want our content to be broadly available.” With all of that in mind, it’s likely that you’ll still be able to pick up Starfield on the PS5 when it eventually releases. 

What’s old is new again

Perhaps one of the most exciting prospects of Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax and Bethesda is the potential for series revivals and overall new takes down the road. Though there is a Quake game currently in early access the franchise feels effectively dead as it’s failed to capture gaming culture like it had in the 90s. Could we see Microsoft dump hundreds of millions of dollars along with a treasure of resources into giving the Quake franchise a major reboot? It would truly warm our hearts here at Shacknews to see Quake reclaim its place as one of the biggest FPS titles out there. 

It’s also fascinating to think about how we could see Bethesda’s studios take a crack at some of Microsoft’s old properties. Imagine a new Crackdown title developed by the brilliant minds at Arkane Studios. On the flip side, what if Obsidian got to take the reins of the Fallout franchise once more, overseeing development of Fallout 5 from scratch? We could be gearing up for some exciting news out of Microsoft and Bethesda over the next few years. 

It’s certainly no coincidence that Microsoft announced its purchase of ZeniMax Media and Bethesda on the eve of Xbox Series X and Series S pre-orders going live. The company is looking to truly pack a punch with its next-gen offerings. There is much still up in the air in regards to the impact of the purchase, but there’s no denying we’re heading into a fascinating era of gaming as we transition into the next generation.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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