The European Commission recently approved Microsoft’s $7.5 billion deal to acquire ZeniMax Media. ZeniMax is the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, known for Fallout, Doom, and The Elder Scrolls. The deal was approved without conditions as the Commission found it “does not raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market.” Microsoft required EU approval before finalizing the deal and bringing Bethesda into the fold to add prior and future games to the Xbox Game Pass subscription service.
“The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the combined entity’s limited market position upstream and the presence of strong downstream competitors in the distribution of video games,” says a European Commission statement. “The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure.”
Microsoft will own a total of 23 first-party studios once the deal goes through as the company also acquired sub-studios including Arkane, the company behind Dishonored, MachineGames, who made Wolfenstein, and ID Software, the company behind Doom. It looks like Microsoft plans to allow Bethesda to operate independently and maintain its current leadership. This was the approach the company took with Mojang, GitHub, and LinkedIn – three companies that maintained autonomy after the Microsoft acquisition.
Microsoft originally announced its plans to acquire Bethesda last September but promised to adhere to PS5 exclusivity agreements for upcoming games GhostWire: Tokyo and Deathloop. The company also promised games such as The Elder Scrolls Online would continue to be supported as it was.
Microsoft plan on handling future projects on a “case-by-case” basis according to gaming chief Phil Spencer. It’s unknown how Microsoft will handle the upcoming Starfield.
Microsoft may not even have to make future Bethesda games Xbox exclusive. Just having the games available on Game Pass day one may be enough to get people to subscribe. Phil Spencer also questioned how viable the idea of the exclusivity deal is as a whole, suggesting that Microsoft is dedicated to Xbox Game Pass and xCloud.
The company is allegedly planning a “Future of Gaming” event for later in the month. This event, supposedly planned for March 23rd, could be how Microsoft announces the future of Bethesda, Xbox Game Pass, and iOS support for xCloud.