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Monday, September 21, 2020

Microsoft (Xbox) Buys ZeniMax Media (Bethesda and company)

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - What could this mean? ...You won't find the real answer to that here, not yet, but I have some other thoughts.

This morning, when Heavy Lobster posted in KoopaTV's private Discord server that “Microsoft bought Bethesda.” (the bolding is my doing, not its), I thought it was a bizarre joke. A morning giggle. But, no, it's real. Here's Microsoft welcoming Bethesda to the family, and here is Bethesda saying why Microsoft is the perfect fit. ...Perfect, as long as 7.5 billion dollars are exchanged.

My first question/thought is what happens to PlayStation 5 exclusives* (*also available on PC) DEATHLOOP and Ghostwire: Tokyo. The plans with those are going to remain, and then it's up to Microsoft on which Bethesda games get to see other consoles besides Xbox and Windows PC. Just want to note that last week, we saw Xbox Game Studios’s Ori and the Will of the Wisps go on Nintendo Switch, so, yeah. Microsoft is going to get the revenue even if they're sold on other systems, just not as much revenue as if it sold on their own.

My second thought was happiness that we no longer have to sit through a dedicated Bethesda E3 conference every year. Well, assuming the Electronic Entertainment Expo continues to exist. It sure didn't in 2020.

Smart people who know how to read press releases will know this has to do with getting Bethesda's games on the Xbox Game Pass, and giving them first-party Xbox Game Studios treatment of a day one release on said Xbox Game Pass. And as I briefly mentioned during the Xbox Games Showcase (which I'm referencing due to the lack of an actual article about Xbox Game Pass), “Xbox itself is just Xbox Game Pass now.” If that's the impression you have, that's the point.

Now, consider this theory...


If Microsoft wasn't rejected in buying TikTok from Chinese company ByteDance, would the ZeniMax acquisition still happen? They have the cash for one massive tech acquisition for billions of dollars, but I don't quite think they have the cash for two in one month. Now, not having cash doesn't have to be an obstacle, but all of these acquisitions have to be cleared by the Microsoft board of directors and managed through investor relations (and finance). If nothing else, it would have presented an... interesting posture from Microsoft if they did both acquisitions simultaneously.

It's likely not a coincidence this announcement comes right before you can pre-order the Xbox Series X/Xbox Series S, to try to throw off people who thought they really wanted a PlayStation 5 but now maybe not. But I also don't think it's a coincidence it's right after they were shut down for TikTok.

The discussions between Microsoft and Bethesda were obviously going on for quite some time now, but what if it was built into the plan that the announcement/decision would be based on when/if the TikTok acquisition happened?

I have no direct evidence, of course. And even if I'm right, it doesn't mean anything or have far-reaching implications. I don't know what'll happen.

That said, if it's okay for Bethesda games to continue to be multi-platform (but maybe have some “definitive” or “collector's” edition only on Xbox/Windows), why wouldn't it also be okay for, say, Rare Ltd. games to be multi-platform as well? In an alternate universe where that's something worth pondering, anyway.



Ludwig wanted to write about other topics today (and this week), but this is very impactful, so it should get an article, at least as a base standard for future developments and reference. Comment away if you have any actually useful insights you'd like to share. Ludwig doesn't think that this will start a sudden splurge of industry consolidation.

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