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Yesterday, Microsoft announced its acquisition of ZeniMax, the parent company of Bethesda, and so all new Bethesda titles will be added to Xbox Game Pass at launch.
This is mega. The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, and Quake, the pillars of so many cabinets and shelves in the homes of ordinary gamers, are now part of the Xbox family. "Our teams have a close and storied history working together, from the amazing first DOOM, and its id Tech engine, innovating games on PCs to Bethesda bringing their first console game to the original Xbox, the groundbreaking The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind," said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox.
"Over the years I've had many deep conversations with the creative leaders at Bethesda on the future of gaming and we've long shared similar visions for the opportunities for creators and their games to reach more players in more ways." Lovely. With this purchase, Microsoft not only got Bethesda, it also brought id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios into the fold.
The deal itself cost $7.5 billion, which is approximately three times more than the acquisition of Mojang by Microsoft in 2014. If that's not enough numbers for you, it's almost double the moolah that Disney paid to snap up Star Wars. Disney! Star Wars! Double! (Near enough.) For Pete's sake.
Anyway, onto the most pressing question: are Bethesda's future games going to be exclusive to Xbox and PC? "With the addition of Bethesda, Microsoft will grow from 15 to 23 creative studio teams and will be adding Bethesda's iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass," said Microsoft in an announcement. "This includes Microsoft's intent to bring Bethesda's future games into Xbox Game Pass the same day they launch on Xbox or PC, like Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios."
It's not clear from this statement alone. However, Microsoft has been continually championing the end of platform exclusivity with the imminent arrival of the Xbox Series X and Series S. This is also something that Bethesda agrees with. "We share a deep belief in the fundamental power of games, in their ability to connect, empower, and bring joy. And a belief we should bring that to everyone - regardless of who you are, where you live, or what you play on," said Todd Howard, and Pete Hines explained that its present projects will be published by Bethesda, not Xbox Game Studios.
So, from these comments and from what we know already, we could infer that new games developed by Bethesda will definitely arrive on Xbox Game Pass at launch, then roll out to PlayStation 5 some time afterwards. The previously announced Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo will still be timed PS5 exclusives, but Spencer said that Microsoft will assess the multi-platform possibilities of new Bethesda games on a "case by case basis".
It's a major shakeup for the industry, and we'll keep you in the loop when we know more. Right now, preorders are live for the Xbox Series X and Series S, and consoles are selling quicker than hot cakes. Big, box-shaped, hot cakes.
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