What Microsoft gets by buying game publisher Bethesda Softworks in a $7.5 billion deal

September 21, 2020, 7:45 PM UTC

It may not be TikTok, but Microsoft is on the verge of acquiring a lineup of popular video game titles that could help grow its consumer and video game businesses.

Microsoft said Monday that it plans to buy Bethesda parent ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion, which makes it the company’s biggest gaming acquisition, surpassing the $2.5 billion it spent in 2014 for Minecraft developer Mojang.

ZeniMax Media was founded more than 20 years ago and is essentially a holding company that owns several video game studios like MachineGames, Alpha Dog, and iD Software. Microsoft said that it would now own 23 video game studios as a result of its planned acquisition, up from 15.

It’s a big deal for Microsoft, which for years has been criticized for failing to have as many compelling exclusive titles for its Xbox gaming business as competitors like Nintendo and Sony do for their consoles. 

Microsoft suffered a blow in August when it said it would delay the release of Halo Infinite, the latest installment in its popular Halo gaming franchise, to sometime in 2021. The latest Halo game was intended to be a big draw in persuading people to buy the company’s latest Xbox Series X and Series S video gaming consoles in November. 

By purchasing ZeniMax, Microsoft now owns some of the most popular and critically acclaimed video game franchises in recent years. For instance, the fantasy adventure game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the bestselling video games of all time, selling over 30 million copies since its initial release in 2011. Meanwhile, Fallout 4, the most recent entry in the acclaimed postapocalyptic role-playing game series, sold a whopping 12 million copies on the day it debuted in 2015.

Other popular game franchises that are part of ZeniMax’s portfolio include the first-person shooters DOOMQuake, and Wolfenstein.

Microsoft did not say if any of the video game franchises it would eventually own when the deal presumably closes would be exclusive to its Xbox gaming console. 

But it did say that it would “bring Bethesda’s future games” into its Xbox Game Pass video game subscription service, which lets people play certain video game titles via their Xbox gaming console and personal computers for a monthly fee. 

“Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialize, and play with their friends,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.

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