Microsoft’s Acquisition Of ZeniMax Has Huge Implications For Gaming
On September 15, 2020, things looked quite glum for Microsoft. The tech giant had just lost out on buying TikTok after Oracle sniped the property just before the bid was set to end. Investors that had been hoping that Microsoft would acquire TikTok quickly pulled out and sold their stocks, dropping Microsoft's shares down by over $40 overnight.
Little did everyone know, a huge deal was in the works- one that could be even bigger than the lost opportunity of TikTok. While the world was awestruck over Oracle's quick acquisition of TikTok, Microsoft was planning something awesome- something that wouldn't be revealed for almost a week.
On September 21, the gaming world was taken by surprise when Microsoft announced it had bought out ZeniMax Studios for $7.5 billion in cash. For those unfamiliar with ZeniMax, they are the parent company of many huge gaming studios. This includes Bethesda SoftWorks, id Software, Roundhouse Studios, and more. The range of titles and franchises now within Microsoft's arsenal is absolutely enormous. The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein, Fallout, and DOOM are just some of the iconic franchises that Microsoft now owns because of this deal.
Just The Elder Scrolls franchise alone is enough to make this deal worthwhile to Microsoft. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of the most popular games of the decade, and it was ported to a lot of consoles and devices, including PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation VR.
Microsoft purchasing Bethesda and its parent company means that the already-announced Elder Scrolls VI might be an Xbox exclusive. The same goes for any new installations in the Fallout or DOOM franchises- they might become console exclusives, a term which hasn't had much meaning since the great console wars of the past.
There is no set-in-stone answer as to whether or not these titles will be exclusives or not, but it is extremely likely, as Microsoft definitely footed a huge bill to acquire all of these properties. The tech giant wouldn't pay such a massive price to license out their properties to their direct competitor, as they wish to convert Sony fans to their products instead.
As time rolls on, players will see whether or not their favourite ZeniMax titles will become Xbox exclusives. However, fans are already anticipating this announcement, as they either rush to pre-order the Xbox Series X or save up for it when it launches in November.
Fans are anxiously spreading rumours about what companies Microsoft will acquire next, as it seems likely that the tech giant will set out to acquire as many properties as possible, so the Xbox Series X has plenty of exclusives upon launch.
Many were convinced that Microsoft was buying SEGA, with gamers coming up with conspiracy theories to connect the two companies.
The official Xbox Twitter had to step in to announce to fans that there would be no acquisition news at the Tokyo Game Show on September 24-28.
Many had believed that it would be there that Microsoft would announce the potential purchase of SEGA. Fans were disappointed when Xbox shut down these untrue rumours.
It's easy to understand why these rumours existed in the first place, however. With Microsoft bumping its number of in-house studios from 15 to 23 with the acquisition of ZeniMax (and the company's near-acquisition of TikTok), anything seems possible. SEGA and Microsoft joining forces would have secured the Xbox's success in Japan; however, it appears that Microsoft wants to calculate its next moves carefully.
After putting so much money into ZeniMax, this makes sense. ZeniMax's properties are already so universally well-known and lucrative that this deal alone has converted a lot of people to Microsoft products.
One look at Twitter shows just how many people are excited about ZeniMax's new era under Microsoft. Many think that the financial support from Microsoft will help them make their games even better.
Additionally, ZeniMax's exclusives will help to bolster the Xbox library, ensuring that even more ZeniMax products reach the public. It's a mutualistic relationship - and the internet can't get enough of it.
Of course, there are some people that are sceptical, claiming that Microsoft can't bar games off from Sony.
Microsoft and Bethesda have already agreed to let previously-held exclusives, such as the much anticipated Starfield, retain their PS5 exclusive status. However, new titles that have not yet been claimed are subject to Xbox exclusivity. Many people are unsure of whether or not Microsoft can actually withhold these games from half of the entire market, but it is very well possible. Again, all of this is up to speculation, as there are no confirmed answers from Microsoft.
Given that the PlayStation 4 dominated the market during the last generation, doubling Microsoft's sales of its Xbox One, exclusivity might be what Microsoft inevitably pursues. PlayStation 4 exclusives were what drove sales up in Sony's favour, and Microsoft might have learned something from its competitors. With the Series X being not only the backwards compatible option but also the console with the most exciting exclusives, Microsoft might overturn the market this year, surpassing Sony's sales.
Fans wait with bated breath, attempting to predict Microsoft's next move before the next generation goes live. The only problem is Microsoft's moves are unpredictable at this stage. After startling fans with both TikTok and ZeniMax, anything seems possible.
The gaming public will just have to wait and see what Microsoft has in store come November. All anyone knows now is that this year's console war will be unlike any other.
Images via Microsoft