Microsoft Spends More Money Than I Will Ever See to Buy Bethesda

It cost it about three times as much as when it bought Minecraft.

As Microsoft looks to expand its first-party catalog as we head into the Xbox Series X/S’ generation, it realized it had $7.5 billion lying around to acquire Bethesda and all its studios. This is how we ended up with the announcement that Bethesda, its IP, and all the studios under it are now part of Xbox Game Studios.

In a post on the Xbox Wire, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer confirmed Microsoft’s purchase of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda, meaning that the company now owns the following:

Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. As well as the following IP: The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Dishonored, Prey, Quake, and Starfield.

As part of the deal, all games from these studios will be launching on Xbox Game Pass on day one, as is custom for anything coming out of Xbox Game Studios right now.

The $7.5 billion number comes from a separate Microsoft PR post, which confirms that the Bethesda acquisition cost about three times as much as the deal made to acquire Minecraft developer Mojang back in 2014. The comparison does bring up a question, however, if Bethesda will still be bringing out games on other platforms. Despite being a Microsoft franchise, Minecraft games are still released and supported on other systems because Microsoft can make a lot more money on them on other platforms than it probably would by making them exclusive to Xbox and Windows. Is releasing The Elder Scrolls VI on only two platforms and hoping it sells systems a better money play in the long run when you can just release it on everything and sell more copies? We’ll have to wait and see.

Bethesda’s Todd Howard released a statement of his own on the company’s website, where he said he felt the trajectory of both companies had gone hand in hand going back to the release of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind on the original Xbox.

“With each new console cycle, we evolved together. From bringing mods to consoles with Fallout 4, now over a billion downloads, to the latest technologies fueling Xbox Series X/S. These new systems are optimized for the vast worlds we love to create, with generational leaps not just in graphics, but CPU and data streaming as well. It’s led to our largest engine overhaul since Oblivion, with all new technologies powering our first new IP in 25 years, Starfield, as well as The Elder Scrolls VI.

Like our original partnership, this one is about more than one system or one screen. We share a deep belief in the fundamental power of games, in their ability to connect, empower, and bring joy. And a belief we should bring that to everyone – regardless of who you are, where you live, or what you play on. Regardless of the screen size, the controller, or your ability to even use one.
We can’t think of a better group of people to do that with than those at Xbox. We have friendships that go back to those original days. From Phil to his senior leaders to developer support, they don’t just talk about putting players first, they passionately live it.”

In other news:

While the far out future is one thing, at the moment, Bethesda is still making a few more games for PlayStation. Deathloop, which was just shown off during a PlayStation 5 presentation is coming from Arkane and is a timed console exclusive for PS5. It’s unclear at the moment if the specifics of whatever deal Sony had will be affected by this.