World news – GB – Microsoft acquires Fallout maker Bethesda in $7.5bn deal


The all-cash deal will give Microsoft access to one of the world’s leading game developers just before the release of its new consoles

Microsoft has acquired ZeniMax Media, owner of video game studio Bethesda, for $7.5bn (£5.8bn) in its largest ever ever purchase in the video games industry. 

Bethesda has become a leading games studio thanks to hit games such as the Fallout series, the Elder Scrolls series and the Doom games. ZeniMax, based in Rockville, Maryland, also owns several other studios across the globe.

Microsoft confirmed the deal in a blog post on Monday, writing that its Xbox division and Bethesda “have a close and storied history working together.”

The acquisition will see Microsoft gain control over Bethesda’s games, potentially allowing it to bring future Bethesda games to Xbox consoles exclusively or with a timed release window before they are made available on Sony’s rival PlayStation video games system.

The deal, conducted entirely in cash, is expected to close in the second half of Microsoft’s 2021 fiscal year. It will give Microsoft access to Bethesda’s 2,300 employees across eight new video game development studios, bringing its total to 23 as the company prepares for the next wave of video games due to release from the end of 2020 onwards.

Bethesda vice president Peter Hines wrote in a blog post that the sale to Microsoft “allows us to make even better games going forward.”

Todd Howard, a director at Bethesda who leads development of the key Elder Scrolls and Fallout games, wrote on Monday that Microsoft has been Bethesda’s “longest and closest partner.”

Microsoft is preparing to release its next generation series of Xbox consoles later this year in competition with Sony. It announced a lower cost “Series S” console which will not include a disc drive but will be priced at a competitive £249.

Bethesda had previously agreed to debut two of its upcoming games, Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo, on Sony’s new PlayStation rather than Xbox. Both games were announced as “timed console exclusives,” meaning that they would be restricted to the PlayStation 5 for a fixed period of time before coming to Xbox. It remains to be seen how this acquisition will affect that deal.

Satya Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft, said: “Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialize and play with their friends … 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.”

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