What’s the skinny? Microsoft announced today that they are purchasing ZeniMax Media, which is the parent company of game developer studios like Bethesda, ID Software, among others. Barring any regulatory review issues, the deal will likely be completed by the second half of 2021.
Microsoft’s announcement of the ZeniMax purchase, which includes Bethesda, one of the most well-known game developers, the day before their new Xbox goes on pre-order, is marketing genius. Microsoft’s published announcement reads as if Microsoft is going to be walking into ZeniMax with a duffel bag of cash and plopping it down on a boardroom table to close the deal. “Microsoft will acquire ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion in cash.”
“This is an awesome time to be an Xbox fan. In the last 10 days alone, we’ve released details on our two new consoles which go on pre-order tomorrow, launched cloud gaming in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and now we’re making another investment in the most critical part of our strategy: the games,” said Phil Spencer, executive vice president, Gaming at Microsoft. “Generations of gamers have been captivated by the renowned franchises in the Bethesda portfolio and will continue to be so for years to come as part of Xbox.”
“This is a thrilling day for this company, our employees, and our fans. We have enjoyed a close partnership with Microsoft for decades, and this deal is a natural progression of those years working together,” said Altman. “The big winners today are our fans. We are continuing to develop our slate of AAA games, but now with Microsoft’s scale and entire Game Stack, our games can only get better.”
ZeniMax Media may not be a name that you associate with AAA games, but the company has been around a long time. The company was founded in 1999 by Chairman and CEO Robert A. Altman. The Media giant currently employs 2,300 employees that span the globe in development studios that include: Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse. The acquisition by Microsft will see their current ownership of game development studios grow from 15 to 23 once completed.