Microsoft acquiring Bethesda is one of the biggest shake-ups in AAA gaming that we have ever seen. At a whopping $7.5 billion price tag, this is a heftier purchase than even Microsoft’s acquisition of Mojang in 2014 for $2.5 billion and even larger than Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4.05 billion. This definitely says something about the enormity of gaming in 2020 and that there is no sign of it slowing down.
In acquiring Bethesda, Microsoft now owns a huge array of studios with a very high-quality suite of franchises. The following studios will be acquired as a result:
- Bethesda Softworks (Publisher)
- Bethesda Game Studios (The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Starfield)
- id Software (Doom)
- Zenimax Online Studios (Elder Scrolls Online)
- Arkane Studios (Dishonored, Prey, Deathloop)
- MachineGames (Wolfenstein)
- Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within, GhostWire Tokyo)
- Alpha Dog (Mobile Developer)
- Roundhouse Studios (Unannounced Project)
The announcement was made via the Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer.
Xbox and @Bethesda have worked together for years. We share similar passions and beliefs. Proud to welcome them to Team @Xbox. Excited how we’ll advance gaming together for players everywhere https://t.co/0BcLULyFYF pic.twitter.com/2aectsejsk
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) September 21, 2020
As Bethesda is a multiplatform publisher, this acquisition begs the question of exclusivity, which as of right now is unclear. Will Microsoft really want to spend $7.5 billion only to keep these incredibly popular franchises on other platforms? Who knows, but we can see arguments for either.
We’ve seen that with Microsoft’s purchase of Mojang, Minecraft has continued to remain on every platform while continuing to receive updates. In addition to this, if the PlayStation 5 is anywhere near as successful as the PlayStation 4 has been, they could be depriving themselves of a huge audience. Contrary to this, however, is that throughout the last generation Xbox has not had a strong hand in the exclusive space, and leveraging many of these popular Bethesda-owned franchises as Xbox/PC exclusives could give them the much-needed edge.
While the exclusivity discussion must be had, it is seemingly Xbox Game Pass that Microsoft is doubling down on. With a new milestone of 15 million subscribers being passed, bolstering Game Pass with high-quality franchises is of paramount importance to Xbox, as evident by their plan to bring Bethesda’s existing franchises and future games to Game Pass day 1. Regarding this, does Xbox even need to push exclusivity when consumers have the option of getting a new Bethesda game for $9.99 on launch day through Game Pass compared to a full $70 price-tag for next-gen games. Only time will tell.
Xbox’s philosophy as this generation comes to a close and as the next looms, is that of inclusion. While as I previously mentioned, they haven’t boasted the strongest exclusives, they have most definitely boasted a herculean attempt to solidify the Xbox eco-system as one worth joining. With First-party games releasing on both Xbox and PC, as well as Game Pass, the inclusion of Play Anywhere, Smart Delivery, and X Cloud, there are many reasons to be excited about the next generation of Xbox.
It’s no accident that this announcement went live on the eve of Xbox Series S and Series X pre-orders. If you’re interested, check out pricing for the consoles and some of the differences between the Series S and X.