Microsoft has acquired ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, for a huge $7.5 billion. This is massive news for the next generation of consoles, and signals a large shift occurring in the gaming industry as a whole.
ZeniMax Media is the parent company of well-known companies like Bethesda Softworks (Fallout, The Elder Scrolls), id Software (Doom, Rage), Arkane Studios (Dishonored, Prey), and MachineGames (Wolfenstein). All of these gaming companies work on large franchises with loyal followings, which now Microsoft own the rights to. This could see Xbox return as the home of the role-playing game.
Bethesda have had a close relationship with Microsoft since bringing The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind to the Xbox in 2002, something which continued with its sequel, Oblivion, being designed for the Xbox 360 then later ported to the PS3. So while their relationship is not something new, it has never been so close, and I am excited to see how this develops over the next generation. There is however the issue of The Elder Scrolls VI, which some now think may not be coming to the PS5, although I think it would be a poor business decision on their part if this becomes the case. This also would go against Microsoft’s inclusive practices such as offering cross-play for Minecraft.
As a loyal PlayStation player, this is the first time that I, somewhat guiltily, have considered moving to Xbox. Bethesda’s releases are some of my favourite franchises, and although they have fallen out of public favour in recent years, mostly with Fallout 76 and the Creation Club, I believe Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media will help restore public opinion. I also couldn’t bear to go without The Elder Scrolls VI if it does become an Xbox exclusive.
Regardless, this news is some of the biggest the industry has seen in recent years, and it will be interesting to see how it affects the upcoming generation.