Giving a major boost to its Xbox video game offerings, Microsoft on Monday said that it plans to acquire US-based ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, one of the largest, privately-held game developers and publishers in the world, for $7.5 billion.
Creators of critically acclaimed and best-selling gaming franchises, including The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, among many others, Bethesda brings an impressive portfolio of games, technology, talent, as well as a track record of blockbuster commercial success, to Xbox.
Games are fuelling new cloud-gaming services like Xbox Game Pass, which has reached a new milestone of over 15 million subscribers.
"Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialise and play with their friends," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.
"Quality differentiated content is the engine behind the growth and value of Xbox Game Pass -- from Minecraft to Flight Simulator. As a proven game developer and publisher, Bethesda has seen success across every category of games, and together, we will further our ambition to empower the more than three billion gamers worldwide," he added.
What Bethesda brings to the table?
With the addition of Bethesda, Microsoft will grow from 15 to 23 creative studio teams and will be adding Bethesda's franchises to Xbox Game Pass.
This includes Microsoft's intent to bring Bethesda's future games into Xbox Game Pass the same day they launch on Xbox or PC, like Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios.
Microsoft earlier this month said it will launch the next generation of gaming consoles Xbox Series S for $299 and Xbox Series X for $499 on November 10.
"This is an awesome time to be an Xbox fan. In the last 10 days alone, we've released details on our two new consoles which go on pre-order tomorrow, launched cloud gaming in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and now we're making another investment in the most critical part of our strategy -- games," said Phil Spencer, Executive Vice President, Gaming, at Microsoft.
"Generations of gamers have been captivated by the renowned franchises in the Bethesda portfolio and will continue to be so for years to come as part of Xbox," Spencer added.
The planned acquisition includes publishing offices and development studios spanning the globe with over 2,300 employees, including Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios.
Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media was founded in 1999 by Chairman and CEO Robert Altman.
"This is a thrilling day for this company, our employees, and our fans. We have enjoyed a close partnership with Microsoft for decades, and this deal is a natural progression of those years working together," said Altman.
"The big winners today are our fans. We are continuing to develop our slate of games, but now with Microsoft's scale and entire game stack, our games can only get better," he added.
Microsoft expects the acquisition to close in the second half of fiscal year 2021.