Bethesda, the developer famous for putting Skyrim on everything will become a Microsoft studio. After thirty-two years as an independent studio, the Elder Scrolls and Fallout developer will join the Xbox team.
Early this morning, Todd Howard of Bethesda Studios and Phil Spencer of Microsoft posted the news that Bethesda and its parent company ZeniMax Media would be acquired by Microsoft. These posts were followed by an official press release about the purchase on the Bethesda website. Microsoft will pay $7.5 billion for Bethesda and the other studios in the ZeniMax Media group which will bring the number of Xbox studios up to 23 from 15. As with any acquisition of this size, the deal is subject to approval by regulators so the deal is set to take effect in the second half of 2021.
While Bethesda has mostly been an independent PC focused studio, they have a history with Microsoft going back to the original Xbox. The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind was an unlikely hit for Bethesda on the console. While subsequent releases in the franchise have been console agnostic, the impact Morrowind made on Xbox means many people think of Elder Scrolls as an Xbox series. The two companies also later partnered to bring Mods to a console for the first time with Fallout 4 to more mixed results.
What this news means for the upcoming Bethesda games already announced depends on how far along in their development process they are. Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo both have 2021 release dates and have multi-platform release announcements on the books. Starfield, Bethesda’s futuristic sci-fi RPG teased at E3 2018, will probably be an Xbox exclusive on the other hand. The unannounced continuation of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises will also be released as Xbox titles.
With Bethesda joining Microsoft, $10 a month for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is looking like a better deal.