Microsoft to Acquire Bethesda for $7.5 Billion

Posted on September 21, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Games, Xbox with 62 Comments

Microsoft today announced that it would acquire the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, one of the biggest game developers in the world. The price? $7.5 billion.

“Creators of critically acclaimed and best-selling gaming franchises including The Elder Scrolls, Fallout and many others, Bethesda brings an impressive portfolio of games, technology[,] and talent — as well as a track record of blockbuster commercial success — to Xbox,” the brief announcement post notes.

They’re underselling this.

Bethesda is one of the largest privately-held game developers and publishers in the world, and its portfolio includes some of the most popular games on earth, not just the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, but also DOOM, Wolfenstein, The Evil Within, Prey, Dishonored, and others. This is a blockbuster move by Microsoft, further indicating its intention to not just stick with gaming but really make a play for the top spot.

“Please join me in welcoming all of our friends at Bethesda to Team Xbox,” a message from Xbox head Phil Spencer adds. “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.”

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Comments (65)

65 responses to “Microsoft to Acquire Bethesda for $7.5 Billion”

  1. yoshi

    I've been a long time Xbox fan, since the original Xbox. But honestly, I've been on the fence this coming generation about which console I wanted to get first. As much as I love Xbox, I just can't resist those PlayStation exclusives.

    Well, that fence I was on just crumbled. It's not even a contest now. I can now play any new Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Doom, etc. game on day 1 on Game Pass. Now I hope to secure my Series X tomorrow morning.

  2. waethorn

    The previous lineup of games in most of the series mentioned were decently reviewed, but the latest sequels have major issues.

    Doom Eternal is criticized by players as dull and too-strategic whereas the multiplayer-friendly Doom 2016 is broadly heralded. The new Prey is a mediocre followup to the old Prey of 2006 which is an oft-forgotten PC game with an interesting-looking sequel that got binned. Fallout 4 is a masterpiece whereas Fallout 76 has few players that stuck around after the ongoing technical issues after launch. The followups to Wolfenstein II have really low average review scores. ESO's player numbers are climbing but the averages are still pretty flat even when new DLC's come out. Did I miss anything?

  3. dougkinzinger

    For what it's worth this is a fantastic idea for Microsoft. Like Paul said, Bethesda is home to some incredible franchises, and MS buying them will only cement their position and prioritization of gaming.

  4. winner

    Hopefully this goes better than many of Microsoft's previous acquisitions.

  5. anthonye1778

    This is shocking, and a considerable development since Microsoft can now make any games such as Fallout, Elder Scrolls, ESO, Prey, Wolfenstein, etc... exclusive to the Xbox. I don't know how wise that would be, but they COULD do it. A massive get for MS.

  6. jimchamplin

    DOOM will replace Zoom in 2021. “Remote work” will give way to “super shotgun” and “telecommuting” will be known as “glory killing.”

    And the world will be much sillier and more entertaining when we all enjoy a little DOOM.

  7. ehalo21

    That came out of no where. Awesome news as long as those teams stay together. We don’t need another Rare Games fiasco.

  8. bkkcanuck

    This is very good news (IMHO), Bethesda under current management was going downhill... Hopefully, Microsoft will infuse some better management ...

  9. ghostrider

    There's a strong chance MS will screw this up. They might want to merge some departments, lose a head or two, and then watch the actual talent at Bethesda jump ship. Ultimately, this is done not so much to improve the company, but to get some more AAA Xbox exclusives. I'm pretty sure anything PS4/5 related in development will be canned immediately.

  10. rockymcvey

    Now that both Obsidian and Bethesda are Microsoft game studios, I’m seriously hoping we will see a restoration of fallout universe to its proper mantle.

  11. Saarek

    Awesome news for XBOX if the next Fallout or Elder Scrolls is exclusive, will really address the imbalance between Playstation and Xbox.

  12. bschnatt

    It'll be interesting to see who contests this, re: anti-competitive, monopolistic stuff, yada, yada... I'm not a huge gamer, so I have no opinion on this...

  13. Cdorf

    wayyyyyy bettter money spent then on TikTok

  14. MutualCore

    This isn't a megaton. This is a gigaton.

  15. owenm

    In recent years Bethesda have become a very greedy company. They've sold out several of their franchises and become addicted to the income from micro-transactions and sales of cosmetic items. With this transaction, and Microsoft's pro-consumer approach to gaming, I am very much hoping to see Bethesda become a studio synonymous with producing quality games again

  16. red.radar

    Wow so the dream is to grow a billion dollar company to sell it to a trillion dollar company. Take the payout and develop frequent flyer miles with the space tourism company of your choice.

  17. kjb434

    People talking about IP becoming exclusives miss the point.

    The play here is Game Pass. All of these games potentially being part of Game Pass is the big news. They don't have to be exclusive.

    PlayStation, Steam (PC), and Switch will have to just buy the games while Game Pass subscribers just get them.

  18. codymesh

    This is crazy. I think Bethesda also sees this as a win-win, which is why they would give up their private independence

  19. angusmatheson

    This is a pathetic move. Microsoft couldn’t attract high quality exclusives to Xbox so they bought them. Xbox is being subsidized by the the rest of Microsoft’s profits. I hate that every small company that is any good is swallowed up by one or another of the big companies. Here is the basic problem - if two people are playing poker one with $100 and the others with $1000 the one with $1000 to start always wins and the $100 always loses. I love Microsoft, and Apple, and Amazon, Google, and Facebook. But because they swallow up everything interesting - they stop any new companies from starting and making something new, and they use those purchases to crush any small companies that stand in their way that they don’t purchase.

  20. jfgordon

    So all these games are worth 1/3 of a LinkedIn? Wow.

  21. crunchyfrog

    This really surprised me. I'm just not sure what to think about it yet. Let's just hope that MS does not screw with the formula and lets these companies do what they do best-create.

  22. crunchyfrog

    And the fate of Elder Scrolls 6 might have just become a bit murkier.

  23. hellcatm

    This is going to seem like a strange comment, and I don't really believe it myself but I just had the thought, what if Microsoft talking about buying TikTok was just a screen so people wouldn't see they were buying Bethesda? Like I said, most likely not.

  24. Mikael Koskinen

    It would be interesting if this isn't about getting more exclusives but to boost their game offering in general. So instead of making the next Doom exclusive to Xbox&PC, they could do what they are doing with Minecraft, Office, Edge etc. meaning offering the software (games in this case) on all the possible platforms.

  25. sherlockholmes

    I see the next big round of layoffs coming.

    • tucotoby

      In reply to SherlockHolmes:

      Yep, and might this be a new turning direction for MS? Least of which, might not be about gaming. Most people easily forget another component (other than the doubling of knowledge every 1.5 years) is the granular issue of smallness. The big gets smaller and the smaller will lessen it weight. Clarity (for those those intellectuals that must move on because of dexterity, as in the above stated areas), will demand high technological speed, mobility (along with an equally of productive home base) and smallness. In short, the PC will shrink (but the console will not); the laptop is doomed (because of largeness), and the double fold Mobile devices will gain sophistication along with expanding technology and talk with sensors, where ever they might be placed.

  26. martinusv2

    Holy cow!

    Good luck fixing Fallout 76.

  27. Markfurry

    Do they get rid of Howard? Does Bethesda use a new engine?

  28. jlv632

    So cheaper than Nokia after adjusted for inflation?

  29. ben55124

    1 nokia. Master Chief vs Doom Marine?

  30. will

    I am excited that finally Microsoft will hopefully have some good exclusives to work from besides Halo...I mean I love the MC but that entire franchise seriously needs a reboot.

  31. sammyg

    Hmmm I wonder if these means "Exclusives" at least timed before they hit the Play Station? I do hope not.

  32. illuminated

    Good price. It would be difficult to drive the value into the ground like they did with nokia. Good investment and congrats after avoiding TikTok.

  33. beckoningeagle

    This will add quite a bit of value to Game Pass.

  34. anthonyfear

    Microsoft never ceases to amaze.....they continue investment in Xbox....they invest (big) in gaming production,....they explore options to buy Social Media (Tik Tok) ....but they give up on a game streaming service which would seem to support all of those interests ?

    • sammyg

      In reply to anthonyfear:

      Agreed that does not make sense. Right after they paid at least one big name to move over to Mixer.

      In the end Microsoft is all about the subscription these days. If this generation of consoles lasts 5 years or more, and the game pass takes off big time, I could easily see them stop making consoles. You provide the device and they provide the game pass/stream subscription.

      • rsfarris

        In reply to sammyg:

        I think they'll keep making consoles for console enthusiasts, but otherwise agree with this. They've so thoroughly blended PC and Xbox gaming that consoles are probably going to just become an annual/biannual "we did a new thing" thing. There is a market for people who don't want to game on PC. If smart TVs ubiquitously become capable of game streaming, consoles might stop, but I have no idea how soon that could be--maybe 5 years, as you say?

  35. christianwilson

    This is the mic drop of all mic drops. Assuming all of these properties are going to be Xbox/PC/GamePass exclusive, this is the biggest thing Microsoft has done for Xbox since... Halo? The launch of Xbox Live?

    And on the eve of Series X/S preorders. Well done, Microsoft. Well done.

    • Vladimir Carli

      In reply to christianwilson:

      I really hope that doesn't happen .Microsoft has been saying for years that exclusives are bad for the industry and for gamers. If they now do a 180 degrees turn and make a bunch of games exclusives it would be extremely hypocritical

      • Noel

        In reply to Vladimir:

        When did Microsoft say that???

        Phil said he doesn't agree with paying a publisher to deny or limit players because they're on another platform.

        As Bethesda games will now be in house that caveat will no longer apply.

        Not hypocritical at all.

        • Vladimir Carli

          In reply to Spectralmania:

          Xbox boss says exclusives are “counter to what gaming is about”

          “Gaming is bigger than any one device,” said Phil Spencer

          • crownseven

            In reply to Vladimir:

            You're missing Spectra's point - since these games are now owned by Microsoft, they are technically in house games. It would be like saying Sony is developing games for the XBOX now.

            I say all the power to them. Use it as a way to convince Sony to stop with the exclusives. Want to continue with your aggressive tactics Sony? No problem, 2 can play that game.

            • Paul Thurrott

              Microsoft now has almost twice as many game studios as does Sony.
            • Maarek

              In reply to CrownSeven:

              The way I see the play is likely this: Xbox and PC will be getting these games. Steam may be left off (they are a really big store but it's not like getting it from Microsoft directly is a barrier to entry for the vast majority of PC gamers), Nintendo will likely get them late if ever (but mostly because the Switch is a completely different kind of development target than PC/Xbox... if it makes sense I'm sure the games will make their way onto the Switch or whatever platform Nintendo has in the future), Sony on the other hand may be left out in the cold, depending on market share in the next gen. I suspect initially they will use Bethesda as a carrot to encourage users to jump to Xbox and if they gain a lead or sell close to Playstation they will keep the games off Sony's platform. If Sony takes a commanding lead (like they did with PS4) then you have to take your opportunity to profit on the competition's work and eventually new games end up released on PS at the same time as Xbox/PC. I don't see that being the case here though as I think Xbox One Series to at least be neck and neck with the PS5 if not outright beating it....Bethesda's purchase just solidifies that feeling more.

          • christianwilson

            In reply to Vladimir:

            I hear you. Maybe we will see Microsoft first party games or even Game Pass on PS5 someday but I don't think that has ever been the intention.

            The article you shared speaks to Microsoft's strategy of releasing games on current gen, next gen, and PC platforms. It doesn't explicitly say Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC platforms but that was always my take when he has said things like that.

            Phil has criticized exclusivity of things like DLC on multiplatform titles. As in, if you want to play Call of Duty on Xbox, you get the shaft on DLC that comes to Playstation first. I agree that sucks, though Xbox did have timed exclusivity on Rise of the Tomb Raider. Is that so different? I don't know.

            First party exclusives are necessary for these console makers. I'd love to play the newest Super Mario game on my Xbox. It would be a thrill for Playstation owners to be able to play Halo with their Xbox friends. Console exclusivity doesn't have many real benefits for gamers. It just requires us all to buy as many consoles as we can afford to play everything. Conversely, without exclusivity, what's the selling point for these companies? Why would anyone be a customer to both Sony and Microsoft?

            I know things are changing and the idea of the dedicated console might be antiquated in a few years, but we aren't there yet. We still live in a world where these companies are trying to earn a dollar. They need exclusives to differentiate their platform from the rest. Let's face it. Microsoft has a good pool of tentpole franchises, but Sony has been doing a better job of it for quite some time. Buying Bethesda gives Microsoft a tremendous jolt in the arm. I don't think that is being hostile. They are trying to grow and position themselves for the future. Sometimes the way to do that is to buy someone.

      • jackwagon

        In reply to Vladimir:

        I doubt they would do that; at the very least, they're probably going to fulfill any commitments Bethesda may have had for planned titles. Besides, they've been willing to play cross-platform to a certain extent with Minecraft and Banjo-Kazooie. If I recall, they also authorized a MechAssault game for the DS.

  36. wolters

    Every time I think Microsoft is going to abandon the consumer world (see my Forum where I was about to write them off on the consumers), then they surprise us. Nice work Microsoft...I am one of the few Fallout 76 defenders and fans by the way. ?

  37. Rycott

    Ahhh what a world we live in where Microsoft are now publishing two PS5 exclusive titles ;D

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