Microsoft purchases ZeniMax Media for $7.5B for Xbox exclusivity

Xbox and Bethesda showcasing games partnership. (Xbox Wire/Microsoft)

For the past couple of years, Microsoft has been purchasing game development studios for their Xbox Game Studios brand in order to deliver high-quality games exclusive to the Xbox. Some of these studios include 343 Industries, responsible for the “Halo” franchise, Mojang Studios, developers of the popular game “Minecraft,” and Turn 10, founding developers for the “Forza” racing franchise. Recently, Microsoft made one of the biggest purchases in the gaming industry, purchasing ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion, parent company to some of the industry’s most successful game developers, Bethesda Softworks and Id Software. 

For comparison, Disney purchased Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, and Pixar for $7.6 billion in 2006. The highest purchase gaming industry acquisition was Chinese studio Tencent, purchasing mobile game developers, Supercell, creators of “Clash of Clans” for $8.6 billion in 2016. The ZeniMax acquisition for Microsoft now grows Xbox Game Studios line up to 23 game studios in partnership and exclusive to Xbox. 

“Content is just the incredible ingredient to our platform that we continue to invest in,” Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, said in an interview with CNET regarding the studio acquisition. “This doubles the size of our creative organization.”

The parent company, ZeniMax Media, is comprised of nearly eight game studios including, Arkane, creators of “Dishonored” and the rebooted “Prey,” Machine Games, developers of the most recent “Wolfenstein” series, Id Software creators of the famous “Doom” franchise and the biggest of them all, Bethesda Game Studios creators and developers of “Fallout” and “The Elder Scrolls” franchise. 

“As a proven game developer and publisher, Bethesda has seen success across every category of games,” said Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, in a statement regarding the studio purchase. “Together, we will further our ambition to empower the more than three billion gamers worldwide.” 

Not only does this provide Microsoft with game exclusivity with ZeniMax, especially at the eve of the release of the new Xbox Series X/S, this also gives them the opportunity to release games at launch on their Xbox Game Pass service, a monthly subscription that provides users with hundreds of games and Xbox exclusives at launch, which could now apply to all games under ZeniMax Media. 

The main concern for Microsoft during this transition to next-generation hardware was the lack of software and games, however, this new acquisition might be what it takes to give them the edge over Sony and their PlayStation.