Just one day before preorders begin for the Xbox Series X, Microsoft made a gargantuan announcement on Monday: It has acquired ZeniMax Media Inc. which owns Bethesda Softworks, publisher of several major franchises including Doom, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and more.
Not only does Microsoft finally have (more) established franchises to carry the Xbox brand into the next generation, but it will also heat up the console wars as the stakes for consumers rise exponentially.
Rest assured: This is one of the biggest acquisitions in video game history. At an eye-watering price of $7.5 billion cash, Microsoft spent a few billion more than the $4.5 billion Disney spent to buy Star Wars and the $4 billion it spent for Marvel. For nearly the cost of two Marvel Cinematic Universes, Microsoft now owns some of the most popular franchises in gaming today.
It is also no mistake Microsoft made the announcement on September 21, a day before pre-orders for the Xbox Series X console are available. (This also follows a week after the haphazard preorders for the PlayStation 5, a mad dash that left customers frustrated and confused.)
Facing criticism that the upcoming Xbox lacked must-play exclusive games, Microsoft now finds itself owning several must-play video game franchises.
Although no new games were announced along with the ZeniMax acquisition, it may seem all but certain that future sequels to games like Fallout, Doom, and Prey are destined for Xbox and PC exclusivity.
Or is it? First, a few games under the ownership of ZeniMax are already set for the PlayStation 5, namely Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo. These games, announced for Sony’s console, will remain PlayStation 5 timed exclusives, meaning there will be a window of time they are available on the PlayStation 5 before other platforms.