Microsoft announces it has entered an agreement to acquire Zenimax Media, parent company of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout developer Bethesda.

Announced by Head of Xbox Phil Spencer in an Xbox Wire post today, Microsoft will acquire ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion – 3 times the $2.5 billion it paid for Mojang and Minecraft in 2014 – and the formal purchase is expected to close in the second half of 2021. The deal includes ZeniMax Media as a whole, Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios.

In a blog post, Bethesda SVP of global marketing said, “We’re still working on the same games we were yesterday, made by the same studios we’ve worked with for years, and those games will be published by us.” The move, Hines explains, is because Microsoft “access to resources that will make us a better publisher and developer.”

It’s unclear whether Bethesda will be considered a part of, or separate to, the existing Xbox Game Studios fold.

Bethesda Game Studios executive producer Todd Howard wrote his own blog post about the benefits of the acquisition, pointing to the company’s long association with Xbox, starting with porting Morrowind to Microsoft’s first console. He says that Xbox Series S and X, “are optimized for the vast worlds we love to create, with generational leaps not just in graphics, but CPU and data streaming as well. It’s lead to our largest engine overhaul since Oblivion, with all new technologies powering our first new IP in 25 years, Starfield, as well as The Elder Scrolls VI.

While avoiding any specifics, Todd Howard also alluded to the idea of exclusives indicating, perhaps that Bethesda would not be limited to the Xbox ecosystem: “Like our original partnership, this one is about more than one system or one screen. 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.”

Xbox also says it “will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass for console and PC.” A press release added that Bethesda’s future games will be added, at launch, into Xbox Game Pass on Xbox or PC.

It’s perhaps not a coincidence that the announcement comes the day before Xbox Series X and S preorders open.

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