In an industry-shaking move, Microsoft has bought ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda, for a massive $7.5 billion. But just how much does this change things?
With the console wars reaching a near fever pitch it is no surprise that both Sony and Microsoft are fuelling the fire in an attempt to get fans to pick one over the other and after Sony’s recent PlayStation Direct it seemed like a sure win for the company. But with Microsoft pulling an ace out of their sleeve (or rather their wallet) I think it is safe to say they are still in the running.
One of the biggest issues for the last generation of Xbox was the lack of exclusive titles. While PlayStation was practically swimming in AAA titles, Xbox barely a puddle but with this recent purchase, it looks like Xbox has just beefed up its library of games. At the small cost of only $7.5 billion, Microsoft is now the proud owner of studios Bethesda, id Software, Arkane Studios, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, and more. This means Xbox now owns titles like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Dishonoured, Wolfenstein, and Doom. So, it’s not surprising that the first thing on many fan’s minds, both Xbox and PlayStation, at the moment is “which games will be exclusive?”
Currently, it isn’t really known what will happen with upcoming titles like The Elder Scrolls: 6 but in a recent announcement by Xbox boss Phil Spencer he has stated that all upcoming titles will launch on Xbox and PC but as for other consoles that will be decided “on a case-by-case basis“. Microsoft has also stated that they will honour current contracts meaning, as reported by Bloomberg, upcoming PS5 timed exclusives Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo will remain just that, despite now being a Microsoft property.
The $7.5 billion purchase of ZeniMax Media is the second biggest in the gaming industry and three times what Microsoft paid for MOJANG back in 2014. Even Disney’s purchase of the Star Wars franchise was smaller than that with $4 billion. So, with such large numbers involved, Microsoft will be wanting to cash in on that investment. But it might not be the way you think. While it is likely that new projects become Xbox exclusives, highly anticipated titles like The Elder Scrolls: 6 may still come to PS5.
For context, The Elder Scrolls 5 Skyrim is one of the best-selling titles of all time with 20 million copies sold meaning that if Microsoft were to half the number of players getting the next title by making it exclusive, financially it wouldn’t be a good idea. Hence PlayStation fans should keep hoping that they won’t lose all those titles but should be aware that with every copy sold Bill Gates gets just a little bit richer.
And as if the good news for Xbox fans couldn’t get any better, during the same announcement it was revealed that every ZeniMax title would become available on Game Pass as well as all future titles being available from day one on the subscription service. This is amazing news for gamers as it makes this already great service even better, and with the recent announcement that EA Play would be added for no additional cost, it makes Game Pass a no brainer to buy. And with PlayStation’s recent criticism for its $70 games, it looks like Xbox will fair a lot better than in the last generation.
Words by George Bell
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