Microsoft to Acquire Bethesda’s Parent Company ZeniMax for $7.5B


Microsoft today announced that it’s entered into an agreement to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of game studio Bethesda Softworks. According to TechCrunch, the price was set at $7.5 billion.

The acquisition is slated to include all of ZeniMax’s properties including Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios.

Once approved, this will make Microsoft the owners of some of the most influential titles in modern gaming, including franchises such as The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Dishonored, Prey, Quake, and Starfield.

ZeniMax’s fleet of studios have also been responsible for a number of VR titles such as DOOM VFR, Fallout 4 VR, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot, and Skyrim VR.

Image courtesy Bethesda Softworks

Microsoft says in a blog post that the inclusion of ZeniMax’s studios will help continue the company’s commitment “to deliver a breadth of amazing games to discover and play on Xbox.”

Although Microsoft hasn’t said as much, it’s likely Bethesda will be narrowing its focus to develop their long-standing franchises for Xbox—an expensive weapon in the coming battle with Sony’s PlayStation 5.

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“One of the things that has me most excited is seeing the roadmap with Bethesda’s future games, some announced and many unannounced, to Xbox console and PC including Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios,” says Phil Spencer, head of Xbox.

Although it’s still unclear how the acquisition will affect Bethesda’s future VR aspirations—Microsoft still has no clear plan for VR headset support on its Xbox platform—Oculus’ Consulting CTO John Carmack says the acquisition may be a good thing for him at least.

Carmack co-founded id Software and was lead programmer of titles such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake. Ever since ZeniMax and Facebook’s Oculus were engaged in a lengthy legal battle over the alleged theft of intellectual property developed by Carmack back when he was employed by id Software, he was understandably unable to publicly engage with the games he developed.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Greyl

    So basically, the only place to play Elders Scrolls VI and Fallout 5 in VR will be on PC.

    • sfmike

      Or maybe just the Xbox, which would really suck.

      • Charles

        Microsoft was quoted in this article specifically saying they’re bringing all of these games to PC and Xbox.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Don’t be so sure.. Ofcourse it’s still not sure if they will even be released for VR..
      Microsoft is more and more going the way of being a multiplatform publisher for the foreseeing future as consoles will become something of the past..

      • Greyl

        If they don’t officially do it, then someone will create a mod for it. As for consoles, I agree, eventually they will basically just be software platforms. Likewise, I forsee smartphones and PC basically becoming the same thing. The Samsung DeX is a good indication of where PC’s are going, where it’s a smartphone on the go and a desktop PC, when docked.

  • This sounds to me as if the Bethesda PC games are being phased out in favor of the X-Box. I still remember when Microsoft acquired Access Software and basically a good sized chunk of my favorite games were assigned to the scrap heap…..

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Not really, as Microsoft is setting their arrows on GamePass, as the future is no more specific consoles. It doesn’t really matter to MS if you buy it on the xbox or the PC, most first party xbox one titles are also available on PC.
      I wouldn’t even be suprised if MS is coming with a Gamepass for the Playstation, haha..
      Don’t count on many more generations of consoles, I think there might be one full generation after the Series generation, but then it’s all over and it will be streaming only.. (that’s amost 10-12 years in the future keeping in mind a generation is 5 to 7 years).

  • Thats alot of games coming to gamepass except VR games cause MS couldnt give less of a damn about them.

    • silvaring

      Thats not why they’re not on gamepass… but if it helps you sleep better you can believe that.

      • Doesnt matter why, they dont care about supporting VR games even if the games on that service have VR version like Hellblade, a game franchise they own.

        If they did care, they would do something about it.

        But keep thinking otherwise if it makes you feel better :3

        Microsoft can basically will anything within their power/grasp to happen.

  • Oh, I wasn’t expecting that. A great move for Microsoft for sure, also because the XboX Series X is lacking content now…

  • Pablo C

    So I guess we wont be seing Elder scrolls 6 in VR.
    Too bad, since Skyrim VR is so great.

  • JakeDunnegan

    Let’s get a little perspective here, folks.

    Remember when MS bought Minecraft? Did they do something drastic and stupid and say it was only going to be played on the Xbox? Errr, no. In fact, they just recenlty announced expanded use on PS.

    MS acquired InExile games – makers of Wasteland 3 – The Bard’s Tale – and, an early favorite in VR: The Mage’s Tale. Notably, they’ve owned the studio now for several years, and the games have come out exactly as the developers wanted to.

    Bethesda has put quite a bit into VR as well. If anything, this instantly boosts MS’s ability to venture into VR. Notably, Microsoft’s AR platform is nothing to sniff at.

    So, for VR in general, this may be exactly the thing MS needs to venture further into the VR space.

    MS is in this to expand their gaming portfolio and talent. How better to do that than to buy the absolute biggest indpendent/privately owned developer out there? They want to compete head-to-head with Sony (who has bought up a ton of developers), and offer exclusives, but without looking like a closed platform like Sony and Apple. They’ve even said they’re going to be producing content in the future on a console-by-console basis. (Example: Switch will likely get games – the PS family won’t…)

    • Pablo C

      I remember some years ago, for a while it seemed Oculus was going to go the way of software openness, together and in partenrship with SteamVR. It happened exactly the opposite.

      • JakeDunnegan

        Facebook and MS ain’t the same thing. They have no obligation to keep their promise (except goodwill with their customers) but MS is on record of repeatedly being for working with other platforms – like in Fortnite, etc.

    • Rosko

      A somewhat optimistic angle but I’m going to go with it & hope for the best.

    • brian577

      Minecraft is a platform in of itself. Microsoft screwing over a game that’s being used as educational tool among other things would be really stupid. Not the same thing.

  • JakeDunnegan

    The other point I wanted to make. :) Interesting mention of John McCormack. Seems a bit out of place, though I can see the connection for a VR site.

    Thing is, Oculus/Facebook famously LOST that lawsuit to Bethesda/Zenimax. (Jury awarded victory, it went to appeals, and then they settled out of court, with Zenimax getting a substantial amount, probably over $200M based on the previous verdict.)

    The dude actually was proven to have taken tech developed while at Bethesda (and thus owned by them) and brought it to Facebook. I think that would have been nice to mention when bringing up the “grudge” in the first place.

    Having said that – let bygones be bygones and all that…

  • xyzs

    At this pace, the world is gonna end up belonging to only 10 companies and the same 100 billionaires who own their stocks and that’s it……..