Microsoft’s Bethesda buy out approved by both US and EU regulators

Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media has been given the green light by EU and US regulators, clearing the way for Microsoft to complete the $7.5 billion buy out ahead of its summer 2021 prediction. Both the European Commission and US Securities and Exchange Commission agreed that the purchase could go ahead without applying any conditions.

The SEC cleared the acquisition with a Note Of Effectiveness on Thursday 4th March, while the European Commission issued their judgement a day later on Friday 5th March, both determining that the acquisition would not harm competition in video game hardware and software development.

However, Microsoft had made certain moves to try and ensure that this would be the case. When they announced the acquisition last year, they asserted that Bethesda would remain a separate publishing arm under the Xbox umbrella, and followed that up by founding Vault in February, a new subsidiary for ZeniMax and all its studios, gaming IPs and labels to live under once the acquisition is complete.

Of course, that doesn’t really mean or guarantee much of anything with regard to how Bethesda games will be released in future. Xbox boss Phil Spencer confirmed in September that existing deals will be honoured, so Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo will still have timed exclusivity on PS5, but that future games will all be on Xbox and PC in line with Xbox’s current policy and “other consoles on a case by case basis.”

That’s been followed up by other interviews and statements that have sewn seeds of doubt about Bethesda’s future games and if they will come to PlayStation. Speaking to Kotaku ahead of the Xbox Series X|S launch, Spencer said, “I don’t have to go ship those games on any other platform other than the platforms that we support in order to kind of make the deal work for us. Whatever that means.”

That’s the biggest hint that the next Elder Scrolls game, the next Doom, the next Wolfenstein and the highly anticipated Starfield will be Xbox and Windows 10 exclusives.

Those are all quite a way away, though. In the near term, as the deal is concluded, the most impactful thing we can expect to see is the entirety of Bethesda’s back catalogue flooding onto Xbox Game Pass for consoles, PC and (where possible) mobile.

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