Xbox giant Microsoft has purchased the parent company of Bethesda ZeniMax for $7.5bn.
The acquisition was revealed by Bloomberg's Jason Schreier just before the Big M's Phil Spencer (pictured) officially announced the news in a blog post. This is by far the Xbox maker's biggest purchase to date and is the second largest in the games industry as a whole to date. First place goes to Tencent's acquisition of mobile firm Supercell for $8.6bn back in 2016.
Microsoft is getting a good amount of value for those billions, too, with Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, Doom maker Id, ZeniMax Online Studios – best known for The Elder Scrolls Online – Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog and Roundhouse Studios to its roster of developers. That's on top of blockbuster IP like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom and Wolfenstein which no doubt bolster Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass subscription service.
As a result, Microsoft now boasts 23 first-party developers in its Xbox Game Studios line-up. Ironically, in November 2019 this division's head, Matt Booty, said that the Big M was moving away from studio acquisitions.
"All of our work, and the foundation of our relationship with you, starts with a commitment to deliver a breadth of amazing games to discover and play on Xbox," Spencer wrote.
"Over the last few weeks, we’ve been excited to share more detail on important elements of a plan we’ve been building towards for years. A plan that is the fulfilment of a promise, to you the Xbox player, to deliver the most performant, immersive and compatible next-generation gaming experiences, and the freedom to play blockbuster games with your friends, anytime, anywhere. Today is a landmark step in our journey together and I’m incredibly energised by what this step means for Xbox."
ZeniMax was one of the few major game publishers who was not a public company, instead choosing to remain private. This gave the firm a great degree of freedom when it came to the projects it worked on. Speaking to CNBC, Spencer said the plan was to leave Bethesda and co alone and let them do what they want.
"ZeniMax has an amazing track record of building great games. Our goal is to make ZeniMax the best ZeniMax they can be," he said.
"Working individually with their studios on the great platform technology that we have and getting their creators' feedback into the things we need to go build, that's just a critical flywheel for us."