Skip to Content

Microsoft’s Bethesda purchase is an Xbox Series X victory before next gen even begins

Microsoft’s Bethesda purchase is an Xbox Series X victory before next gen even begins

Microsoft officially kickstarted its transition into the next generation a few months back, but no day since has compared to the past 24 hours, arguably one of the most significant in Xbox history.

Mere hours before Xbox Series X / S pre-orders opened around the world, Microsoft lifted the lid on a staggering $7.5 billion USD deal to purchase ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Arkane (Dishonored, and PS5 console exclusive Deathloop), Bethesda (of Fallout and Elder Scrolls fame), id Software (Doom), and MachineGames (Wolfenstein). 

microsoft xbox bethesda purchase

I know exactly what you’re thinking, and you’re not wrong: that is a huge acquisition by Microsoft, and not just on the financial side. This is a business move — long rumoured — that significantly enhances the pulling power of Xbox.

One simply cannot understate not only the current catalogue this purchase brings with it, but also the future catalogue, which may well eventually include the likes of Deathloop, previously celebrated as a PS5 console exclusive. That’s not just a huge dent in appeal of the PS5: it would have to be utterly demoralising for a team seemingly so close to yet another early-generation victory, just as they had with the PS4. 

microsoft xbox bethesda purchase

The aforementioned games come before anyone even mentions Starfield, Bethesda’s much anticipated albeit mysterious sci-fi RPG. And then there’s the Elder Scrolls VI, a game that now appears incredibly likely to be an Xbox exclusive. As I mentioned above: staggering.

Taking it purely on face value, Microsoft — and therefore, Xbox — now owns some of gaming’s most popular franchises. You’re hard pressed to find a single bad game in the lot across every one of those developers. Let’s also take a moment to acknowledge Doom Eternal, quite arguably the most innovative and memorable FPS engine that the industry has seen in years. It is now Xbox IP.

microsoft xbox bethesda purchase

None of this talk includes confidential and yet-to-be-revealed IP, engines and tech. We can all debate endlessly about whether or not Elder Scrolls and Starfield will be Xbox exclusives (hint: they will be), but there are mystery clouds over what else these studios can bring to Xbox. 

The good news for PlayStation fanatics is that this is not the first time Microsoft has purchased a big player, and they have form when it comes to having said player’s games appearing on PlayStation platforms. Minecraft, for example, will never leave PlayStation 4, and it’s also highly unlikely The Elder Scrolls Online will ever, either. 

microsoft xbox bethesda purchase

So signs point to some form of support for PlayStation even after the purchase, but there’s still a lucrative incentive here — and tough decision — that Microsoft needs to make. Zenimax games coming to PC, for example, is a given, because they always have. We also now know that these future releases will hit Game Pass, boosting that service significantly. The Master Chief Collection has hit Steam, and Microsoft, per Phil Spencer, has no interest in snatching already established PS5 exclusives away from the console. 

That begs the question: what truly is the most lucrative long-term proposition for Microsoft under this scenario? 

microsoft xbox bethesda purchase

Let’s say Elder Scrolls VI is released tomorrow. It comes to Xbox Series X, hits Game Pass early. It’s reasonable to assume that the game has the potential — if it isn’t already — to be a system seller. Does Microsoft bank on the game boosting hardware sales and thus enhancing investment in the Xbox ecosystem? Or does it look to maximise software sales and simply spread the love?

My honest opinion is that it will go one of two ways, with nothing in between. 

microsoft xbox bethesda purchase

One way is that games are console exclusive for at least 12 months. The other is that they’re Xbox exclusives. Full stop. That’s unfortunate for PlayStation fans, but a bonanza for the Xbox faithful.

It just seems like good business: considering Microsoft’s shifting focus towards an Xbox service rather than an Xbox platform, it still ultimately needs people invested in its ecosystem. This will achieve that, and why I feel the full 100% exclusivity road feels more likely (sorry, PlayStation fans).

xbox series x vs series s

Additionally,  while Microsoft is promising a “case by case” analysis of each future Zenimax title when it comes to PS5 availability, we all know what that means: likely downloadable content and expansions for already-available games, and those already announced an confirmed for the platform.

This is ultimately less a Xbox vs PlayStation thing, and more just a further growth of additional services. So far leading into this generation, everything Microsoft has done seems calculated and planned, rather than reactive to the competition.

This might not be enough to propel it above said competitor this generation, but it certainly sets the foundation for an epic finish.

What are your thoughts on Microsoft’s purchase of ZeniMax and the impact to Xbox and PlayStation? Sound off in the comments below!

overwatch 2 release
← Previous
Blizzcon 2021 dates confirmed, so is this when we'll see Overwatch 2?
xbox series x unboxing
Next →
Xbox Series X Australia pre-order rush leaves gamers clouded in the unknown

Anubisseesall

Wednesday 23rd of September 2020

Heres your click bait traffic (though all the ads are blocked sorry fam) reality check time.....

Rare was supposed to "win" them the Nintendo market lol, buying up timed Japanese exclusives was supposed to "win" Japan for them.....yeah we see where that went. Buying Ruffian Games was supposed to kill GTA and win them the market...blah blah

Bethesda's last 3+ titles have under performed (Doom aside) and have been bug ridden bad press messes. While this is a huge purchase this does next to nothing to sway people from the PS5.

Maybe in time this purchase will bear fruit for them but as of right now its impact is more pie in the sky or shock reaction.

Gaetano Prestia

Wednesday 23rd of September 2020

Thanks for your feedback. I never intended this to specifically be about the PS5, I see it as a win for the Xbox brand in isolation, in enhancing its portfolio. Nothing more nothing less. Appreciate your contribution to the discussion though!

gamor

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

Xboxfanaticbazar. com

Gaetano Prestia

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

But also yes this is an Xbox site #guiltyascharged

Gaetano Prestia

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

Ooooh that domain is available :P Maybe I'll purchase it.

The Leviathan Axe

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

Xbox has no games... Only overhype

GOTY 2020: The Last of Us 2, Demon's Souls, Spider-Man

2021??? God of War 5, Horizon Forbidden West domination

Good luck with that

Gaetano Prestia

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

All great games! No one is doubting that. I'm meant this is a victory for Xbox in improving its standing overall, something they have struggled with a bit lately.

KashIsKlay

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

Grow up kid

andrewsqual

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

Series x? When are you journalists going to realise series x means nothing. This cements the fact that series s will need be considered when making all these next gen games and Microsoft will enforce that the games need to run decent on this weaker awful next gen console.

Gaetano Prestia

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

Hey Andrew, thanks for your comment! I'm not a journalist but still hear your point and value your opinion. I'm just a gamer that loves Xbox. I'm not sure about Series S being considered overall, I don't think it will impact development that much given raw power across both consoles is still quite significant. Thanks again for your comment!

Hans Wurst

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

Using the word victory here seems pretty laughable. Especially since most games will still come to other consoles.

Gaetano Prestia

Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

Hey Hans, thanks for your comment! I meant that it's a victory for the Xbox brand early on given they were struggling to attract and get exclusives. With time though this will stand to be a big win for Xbox I think! Thanks for your comment! :)