Microsoft's Massive Bethesda Deal Has Been Officially Approved
As one of the biggest gaming acquisitions of all time, Microsoft's purchase of Bethesda just took a massive leap forward. While the $7.5 billion purchase of ZeniMax media encompasses a lot more than just Bethesda, the fan-favourite publisher behind Fallout, Starfield, and The Elder Scrolls is a major perk of the deal. Although many thought the acquisition was signed, sealed, and delivered, it still had to go through several steps. Now, as the European Union approves the deal, it looks like the supersized exchange will go ahead.
Just like when Disney bought 20th Century Fox and set the wheels in motion for it to become an even bigger superpower of the entertainment world, Microsoft buying ZeniMax could have massive repercussions for the wider gaming world. While critics have argued Sony's PlayStation 5 has the inside track on its Xbox Series X/S competition thanks to its massive number of exclusives, the Bethesda deal could upturn the apple cart.
What's going on with Bethesda and Microsoft deal?
According to The Verge, the deal was finalised on March 5. According to regulators at the EU, the buyout "does not raise serious doubts as to its compatibility within the common market”. The deal is apparently unconditional, and with the process nearly complete, it means Microsoft is closer than ever to making Bethesda games Xbox exclusives (if it wants). There has been some confusion on whether PlayStation exclusives like Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo would still release as planned, but in a nice move of sharing its toys, Microsoft confirmed it would honour all releases that were already in place.
The Verge continued to explain the ruling, which needed EU approval before Microsoft could finalise plans to bring future Bethesda games to the Xbox Game Pass. A statement from the EU said, "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".
What's next for the Microsoft and Bethesda deal?
The EU's decision comes just after the United States Securities and Exchange Commission also approved the deal. Now that both the EU and SEC have ruled in favour of Microsoft's purchase, there's little standing in its way. That being said, this is still far from the final hurdle. Although Xbox boss Phil Spencer had tipped the acquisition to go through in the second half of this year, that schedule has slipped slightly. If all goes well, the deal should be completed between September 2021 and March 2022, meaning it will be part of the upcoming fiscal year.
The list of first-party developers under Microsoft's growing umbrella continues to swell. The ZeniMax deal means the home of the Xbox will also own id Software (Doom), Arkane (Dishonoured), and Machine Games (Wolfenstein). Plans are for Bethesda to still run as a standalone studio. Even though there are questions about whether Microsoft will have its gaming cake and eat it by making Bethesda games Xbox exclusives, Xbox CFO Tim Stuart said this won't be the case, but instead, Microsoft will be the go-to place to play these titles. If we're understanding things correctly, it's likely Bethesda games would launch on Xbox and Windows PC first, then roll out to the likes of the PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.
Considering the Microsoft and Bethesda deal could mean so much for so many legacy franchises, it's great news that things seem to be running smoothly for once. Somewhere, we guess PlayStation's Jim Ryan is quaking in his boots.
Images via Bethesda | Microsoft