Microsoft has announced that their acquisition of ZeniMax Media is complete, having received the all clear from the US SEC and European Commission who investigated the takeover bid and its impact on the competition in the games industry. The $7.5 billion acquisition adds Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios to the wider Xbox group, but Bethesda will remain a separate publishing arm to Microsoft’s gaming business.
Almost immediately following the takeover, they will now be bringing more Bethesda games to Xbox Game Pass later this week. This aligns with reports overnight that Microsoft would be hosting a stream to reveal the future of their newly acquired company and its portfolio of games old and new. According to VentureBeat’s sources, this will take place on Thursday 11th March.
Welcome Bethesda! We now have one of the largest, most creative, and quality first party studio line-ups ever. Great day to be an @Xbox fan. To celebrate, we’re bringing more @bethesda games into Game Pass later this week. Stay tuned! https://t.co/7Gjfv1xqCm
— Aaron Greenberg 🙅🏼♂️💚U (@aarongreenberg) March 9, 2021
The statement by Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, explains:
Our goal is to give these teams the best foundation for doing their greatest work and to learn from them as we continue to build Xbox into an inclusive platform for all players.
This is the next step in building an industry-leading first party studios team, a commitment we have to our Xbox community. With the addition of the Bethesda creative teams, gamers should know that Xbox consoles, PC, and Game Pass will be the best place to experience new Bethesda games, including some new titles in the future that will be exclusive to Xbox and PC players.
Except that doesn’t really explain much of anything, does it?
We’ll have to wait until later this week to discover exactly which games will be joining Game Pass, but some Bethesda titles, such as Doom Eternal, are already on the subscription service, having been added following the original takeover announcement.
It’s expected that Bethesda’s games going forward will be Xbox and PC exclusives, or at least arrive first on Xbox and PC. However, certain prior contracts will hamper this effort for the next couple of years. 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 obviously lines up with today’s note that “some new titles in the future that will be exclusive to Xbox and PC players.”
Aside from those two known quantities, it’s entirely possible that the next Elder Scrolls game, the next Doom, and the highly anticipated Starfield will be Xbox and Windows 10 exclusives. There’s also the potentially sticky wicket of the newly announced Indiana Jones licensed game by Wolfenstein developer MachineGames. A licensed property from Lucasfilm Games, they might have certain conditions with regard to the game’s launch platforms. Xbox has been typically lenient with existing contracts for all their recent acquisitions, but have also made a point of bringing their games (even when still published by a third party) into Xbox Game Pass as soon as possible.