Microsoft Has Acquired Bethesda Parent Company ZeniMax Media for $7.5 Billion; Now Owns 23 First-Party Studios

In one of the biggest moves we’ve ever seen in the games industry Microsoft has announced this morning that they will be acquiring ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion.

For those who don’t know, ZeniMax Media is the parent company of Bethesda Softworks meaning that Microsoft now owns every studio they did including id Software, Bethesda Game Studios, Arkane Studios, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog Games, and ZeniMax Online Studios.

Those studios make franchises such as Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Quake, Prey, DOOM, Dishonored, Wolfenstein, Starfield, The Evil Within, and many more. Microsoft now owns 23 studios and has said that every Bethesda game going forward will launch on Xbox Game Pass on the same day they release.

The two PlayStation 5 timed exclusives launching in 2021, Deathloop and Ghostwire Tokyo, will still be exclusive to Sony for a period of time. We also don’t know for sure yet whether or not Microsoft will launch future titles on Xbox and PC only or if other platforms like PlayStation or Nintendo could still see support.

You can read statements from both companies below.

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox

Today is a special day, as we welcome some of the most accomplished studios in the games industry to Xbox. We are thrilled to announce Microsoft has entered into an agreement to acquire ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks.

As one of the largest, most critically acclaimed, privately held game developers and publishers in the world, Bethesda is an incredibly talented group of 2,300 people worldwide who make up some of the most accomplished creative studios in our industry across Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. These are the teams responsible for franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Dishonored, Prey, Quake, Starfield, and many more.

Bethesda’s games have always had a special place on Xbox and in the hearts of millions of gamers around the world. 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. 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.

Just as they took the bold first steps to bring The Elder Scrolls franchise to the original Xbox, Bethesda were early supporters of Xbox Game Pass, bringing their games to new audiences across devices and have been actively investing in new gaming technology like cloud streaming of games. We will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass for console and PC. One of the things that has me most excited is seeing the roadmap with Bethesda’s future games, some announced and many unannounced, to Xbox console and PC including Starfield, the highly anticipated, new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios.

Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways. All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you.

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. 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 energized by what this step means for Xbox.

Please join me in welcoming all of our friends at Bethesda to Team Xbox.

Pete Hines, Bethesda Softworks

Today we announced we’re joining the Microsoft family.

And if you haven’t had a chance to read what Phil Spencer and Todd Howard shared in their posts this morning, be sure to check them both out.

When you work at a place as long as I’ve worked at Bethesda—just a month short of 21 years—you see some things. Chief amongst them is change. When I started, Bethesda was not much more than a handful of people. The team working on Morrowind fit in a couple of offices, and there were probably six or seven of us spread across everything else.

Bethesda Softworks, our parent company ZeniMax Media, and our many internal studios, now employ thousands of talented people working in publishing offices and development studios around the world. We’ve gone from one internal studio to many; from a focus on single-player fantasy RPGS to developing massive MMOs, first person shooters, and everything in between. The world, our industry, and our company has changed a lot in the 34 years since Bethesda Softworks was first founded. Today, it changed again. And I know that brings up questions.

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.

So why the change? Because it allows us to make even better games going forward. Microsoft is an incredible partner and offers access to resources that will make us a better publisher and developer. We believe that means better games for you to play. Simply put—we believe that change is an important part of getting better. We believe in pushing ourselves to be better. To innovate. To grow.

And, we have a long history of working with Microsoft. Our companies share many of the same basic principles. We believe in a culture that values passion, quality, collaboration, and innovation. When I think back to the first time we decided to shift from being a PC-only developer and make Morrowind for the original Xbox, it was a move that countless people said would never work…nobody on consoles wanted a game that big and complex. But Microsoft believed in us and so did you. And now RPGs of all shapes and sizes are hugely successful on consoles.

Yes, it’s a big change for us, but after taking a minute to absorb the magnitude of this acquisition, we’re going to continue doing what we know and love: making great games. We’re going to keep trying new things. We’re going to take the same passion we’ve poured into what we do, and the passion that our community brings to the things we make, and do even better.

And soon the conversation will move on from this deal to talking about our games again. And I can get back to answering the questions that get us all excited. Tell me more about Deathloop. When can I see more Ghostwire? What’s coming in Q4 for The Elder Scrolls Online? I want to see more of the DOOM Eternal DLC. WHEN THE HELL WILL YOU TELL ME ABOUT STARFIELD? I’m excited for those conversations and look forward to talking to you about all of that—and much, much more—-in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

I believe in the people I work with. I believe in the company we have created together. I believe in the communities that have formed around the games we make. And I believe today’s announcement is just the next in a long line of changes in our history that will lead to bigger and better games for all of us.

Pete Hines

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Editor/Writer/Reviewer here on I've been playing games for almost 30 years now and play everything from AAA blockbusters to Indie games.

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