Microsoft Cleared in US and EU to Close Bethesda Acquisition

Posted on March 8, 2021 by Brad Sams in Games, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox with 7 Comments

While it feels like it was only yesterday, Microsoft has been working to close the Zenimax/Bethesda acquisition since September of 2020. Microsoft proposed to buy the company for $7.5 billion and today, the company has cleared the last hurdle to complete the acquisition.

With the regulatory hurdles out of the way, the last remaining step for Microsoft will be to send the funds to complete the transaction and of course, sign all the paperwork. But with nothing but a wire-transfer and a couple of signatures left to complete, I would expect the acquisition to close in the very near future.

Here is how the EU justified its approval:

The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the combined entity’s limited market position upstream and the presence of strong downstream competitors in the distribution of video games. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure.

This is Microsoft’s largest gaming acquisition in the company’s history with Minecraft being the second at $2.5 billion, this is a huge bet for the company. There is little doubt that Microsoft will use the new IP to help bolster the company’s Game Pass subscription service and it will add a number of popular titles like Doom, Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein, and many more to Game Pass.

The bigger question is what will Microsoft do with titles that are in development for PlayStation consoles once they officially close the deal. Will they pull all those titles from development or will they let those titles ship and have Xbox content on PlayStation?

Considering that the development of games for PlayStation likely involves contracts that were signed years ago, I would think they would complete those agreements to avoid a breach of contract but for follow-up titles, I fully expect Microsoft to give strong or more than likely exclusive preference to Microsoft platforms.

With the regulatory hurdles out of the way, look for Microsoft to announce here in the near future that they have completed the transaction.

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Comments (7)

7 responses to “Microsoft Cleared in US and EU to Close Bethesda Acquisition”

  1. nbplopes

    I believe that the strategy of MS is to be wherever customers are while trying to deliver the best experiences on their own platforms.

    So my guess is that will keep Bethesda producing for PlayStation. Probably with some exclusives launching first on Xbox.

    As a customer my main concern with their products it’s that I don’t really like Windows OS and their PC offerings. In this context for me the experience is a bit convoluted while lacking in polish. I like most of their other products.

    • thretosix

      In reply to nbplopes:

      I'm sure there will be timed exclusives for sure. There may already be contractual agreements with particular games from before the acquisition. Even Sony is moving to have PlayStation exclusive games on PC which are clearly timed exclusives, I think they both understand having their games get exposure to people who may not have played them before is a good thing. If anything they could make it exclusive to Xbox/PC as well as Game Pass. Game Pass will likely end up on Nintendo and Sony platforms to rake in money from the subscription based service.

  2. darkgrayknight

    Microsoft will likely keep developing for PlayStation, just like they do for Minecraft. Microsoft has been pushing cross-platform play and will likely continue.

  3. scovious

    Bethesda games are system sellers; sharing these coveted titled with competing platforms would be a mistake for driving their own platform growth. Unless they are happy making 60$ off a game rather than getting people to buy consoles or subscribe to game pass. With Microsoft's console, PC, and mobile approach there are enough platforms and users who would enjoy future Bethesda games without roping in a several million more Playstations or Switch systems.

    That being said it could be a great opportunity to trade Xbox exclusives with Sony or Nintendo and finally get some of their first party, popular and desired gamed on Microsoft's platforms.

  4. b6gd

    Anything new, without a contract, should come with a minimum 1 year exclusive for the Xbox/PC.

    Sony has done this for year. I own a PS4 for one game, MLB the show (yes I love Baseball). It is finally coming to the Xbox this year!! Sony is also finally bringing some of its games to the PC, to make more money but most of them have been on the PS for multiple years before coming to the PC.

    • thretosix

      In reply to b6gd:

      This isn't 100% of the time but pretty much the case almost all the time. I think the prime examples would be with games like the FFVII remake. It was supposed to be a timed exclusive and even the first part is still unavailable even on PC. Perhaps it will happen after all 3 parts are released and even then a year later but as some kind of Windows Definitive Edition sorta like they did with FF XV.

      Bethesda did work with Sony with VR content. I would think Elder Scrolls even Fallout may stay multiplatform. There may be some contractual stuff going on with Starfield. This is just a hunch. Game Pass may play a part as well with Bethesda content.

      It is pretty cool that some of the exclusive stuff like you mentioned MLB is coming to Xbox. It's my hope that they work more with each other. One of my biggest gripes is buying a game then wanting to play with a friend but they play on a different platform, it's not going to be enough for me to necessarily buying a console just to play a game with a friend. Especially as an adult where people have families and it isn't even that easy to find time to play with a friend.

  5. gregsedwards

    Next up, Valve.