The governing body was one of the last stumbling blocks delaying Microsoft from buying Bethesda.
As far as deals are concerned, they don't get much bigger nor as lucrative as Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda. Two eternal juggernauts of the industry.
Although both parties had agreed to finalise a deal of some sort, a few formalities still stood in the way. As with all things business-related, there is a protocol to uphold.
But before we delve deeper into the inner-details, let's remind ourselves of what the purchase was all about.
Here's is the story of Microsoft and their bid to buy Bethesda.
Better buckle up.
What was the Initial deal Between Microsoft & Bethesda?
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Rewind time to Sep 21, 2020, where Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, unveils plans to bring Bethesda Softworks under its bosom by declaring an agreed partnership with ZeniMax Media. The parent company of Bethesda.
"Today is a special day, as we welcome some of the most accomplished studios in the games industry to Xbox, Spencer said. "We are thrilled to announce Microsoft has entered into an agreement to acquire ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks."
Elsewhere, Pete Hines, Bethesda SVP of PR & Marketing, had this to say on the merger during a blogpost.
"But the key point is we're still Bethesda. We're still working on the same games we were yesterday, made by the same studios we've worked with for years, and those games will be published by us."
Virtually speaking, at its core, the deal effectively puts Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Bethesda Softworks, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios in the palms of Microsoft.
Initially estimated at a whopping $7.5 billion, the deal far exceeds any other game industry acquisition to date. To place that into perspective, that's triple the amount the company paid for Minecraft in 2014. Which, in relative terms, came to the measly sum of $2.5 billion.
Only spare change to these guys. (he says, twirling his empty pockets)
Microsoft Bethesda Purchase Gets the Green Light
So, here's the score. The European Commission has greenlit Microsoft's purchase of Bethesda. Effectively, that means that a deal is inching ever closer to being struck.
Recently, the regulatory body approved the terms without making any amendments to the deal. In turn, this removes the final hurdle Microsoft face in wrapping up negotiations and making a historic $7.5 billion purchase.
The ruling follows a similar trend to previous Microsoft ventures. Now, with the European Commissions blessing in the bag, Microsoft will likely look to close out a deal before the tail end of 2021.
What Does the Deal Mean for Future Games?
By now, you probably have a few questions up your sleeve. So, let's cover all the bases. What does this mean going forward for Microsoft? And will the move impact the purchasing decisions of players?
Furthermore, what's the situation concerning their upcoming IP's, Elder Scrolls VI & Starfield?
Well, probably not a great deal. At least initially. You see, once the purchase is officially processed, Microsoft's studios will total 23.
With some severe talent on board, including the inspired teams behind Deathloop, Doom, Wolfenstein, and Elder Scrolls, at their disposal, the future is likely bright for both Bethesda and Microsoft.
But perhaps the best element of this partnership sits on Microsoft's side within the Xbox Game Pass. At no additional charge to the consumer, all of Bethesda's upcoming titles will launch on the platform, free of cost.
So, in short, that spells excellent news for fans looking forward to playing Starfield and the next elder scrolls game.
Future Bethesda Titles Strictly Microsoft Exclusives?
That's unclear at this point. As it stands, Bethesda is set to honour pre-arranged agreements between itself and Sony concerning Deathloop.
However, anything after that could be subject to change. Especially since the reported discovery of a new subsidiary called Vault said to revolve around the handling of future Bethesda IP's, as reported by Gamespot.
Whether this will affect Sony's rival PS5 console in the long run, we will have to wait and find out.
It is thought that Microsoft may host an event at the end of March. Could it be here that they divulge plans for Bethesda exclusivity?
As you can imagine, exclusivity has been a hot potato in the gaming sphere for some time. Not least so, because Sony has subjectively dominated this department for a while now. I could provide a lengthy list of examples, but I don't want to reinvigorate the console war.
Keep the peace. I say.
Precisely what this means for Elder Scroll 6 and Starfield is unclear. Personally, I find it difficult to see how such notable AAA IP's such as Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI could afford to alienate Sony and other platforms.
So, to sum up, it seems Bethesda and Microsoft are one step closer to securing a deal. At the same time, thanks to the European Commission's consent in the back pocket, both can now look to set in motion plans to close out the exchange.
Of course, it's hard to see this having a drastic effect on their already announced triple-A games in the short term. Then again, the exclusivity side is an aspect Xbox has been looking to strengthen for some time.
So, they may well take this route. In my mind, anything after Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield could be on the cards for an Xbox-only release.
It's too early to say. That said, from the outside looking in, it's hard to fathom how a deal worth around $7.5 billion would not involve a slither of exclusivity, in some form or other.
I have my suspicions, but we shall see. All in all, I'm excited to see what Xbox has in store now that Microsoft has more studios under its wing. Let us hope there's a whole pipeline of new games coming to Xbox.
That concludes today's topic. How do you weigh up the perks of Microsoft buying Bethesda? Does it benefit both parties? Or is this a one-way revenue stream for a particular party?
Also, how will the move affect our industry, on the whole?
As always, we welcome your views. So be sure to sound-off in the comments.
I always love to read through your thoughts.