Bombshell Acquisition


Alexander Gray

September 21, 2020, Xbox announced that Bethesda would be joining them. (Photo Courtesy, Alexander Gray)

September 2020 was a pretty slow month for gaming with not a lot of news or releases other than previously expected next-gen console and graphics card preorders. However, a day before the Xbox Series S/X preorders went live, Xbox dropped a bombshell, announcing that Bethesda Game Studios would be joining Xbox.

Fallout 4 is an open-world survival game set in a post-apocalyptic filled with mutants, raiders, robots, and radiation. (Photo Courtesy, Alexander Gray). (Alexander Gray)

First reported by Bloomberg, Microsoft announced they had plans to acquire Bethesda Softworks parent company, Zenimax Media, dropping $7.5 billion for the acquisition and setting a record for the most expensive gaming deal in history. A few minutes later, Xbox announced on their Twitter that Bethesda and their accompanying game studios such as Bethesda Game Studios, Machine Games, id Software, Arkane Studios, and Roundhouse Studios would be joining Xbox.

“It’s a good business move and it’s probably gonna make the games better. With a big company like Microsoft owning Zenimax, there’s gonna be more money, which means more quality,” said freshman Adam Gray.

The Evil Within 2 is a psychological horror that takes you into STEM, a neurological network that has gone haywire to save your daughter, Lilly. (Photo Courtesy, Alexander Gray) (Alexander Gray)

What does this mean for Bethesda? For starters, if you’re an Xbox Gamepass or Gamepass Ultimate subscriber, expect your $5-$15 monthly subscriptions to gain more value. You can expect to see Bethesda franchises such as Doom, The Elder Scrolls, The Evil Within, Dishonored, and Fallout making their way onto Gamepass for console and Gamepass for PC. Gamepass Ultimate subscribers will also be able to stream these titles to their android devices through their xCloud.

Doom Eternal is currently available on Gamepass for console. Along with that, they recently released their first DLC campaign, continuing the main story. (Photo Courtesy: Alexander Gray). (Alexander Gray)

While that’s good for Xbox and their users, other platforms like Playstation and Nintendo are still up in the air. Since Xbox effectively owns all Bethesda titles now, many have started to worry about timed or complete console exclusivity of Bethesda titles and franchises like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and Doom to the Xbox platform. In an interview on Bloomberg with the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, he stated that they would make a decision for other platforms on a “case-by-case basis”.

“I think we’re gonna see more of this, this is gonna start a trend because I think now it’s another form of trying to compete with other major platforms to take in more exclusives, not just through partnerships, but through purchases. So I’d be surprised if you didn’t Sony retaliate in a similar way,” said BMC economics teacher, Jenna Griner.

Platform exclusivity isn’t new in the gaming industry. It’s very common, especially in the console industry, to pay developers and publishers for timed or console exclusivity. Game series like Final Fantasy, Bioshock, Dead Rising, and Mass Effect have had timed console exclusives and console exclusive titles.

“Any time we have a consolidation in any market, I see that as a threat, I see that as an attempt to control assets, to decrease the diversity of content and access to it, and in most cases, that goes against the interests of the consumer,” said Griner.

While future title availability will be determined case-by-case, Bethesda’s GhostWire: Tokyo and Deathloop will still be coming to Playstation 5 as timed console exclusives. Both titles will arrive on other platforms at a later date. 

On September 21, 2020, director and executive producer at Bethesda, Todd Howard released a statement on Bethesda joining Xbox.

“We share a deep belief in the fundamental power of games, in their ability to connect, empower, and bring joy. And a belief we should bring that to everyone – regardless of who you are, where you live, or what device you play on,” “We can’t think of a better group of people to do that with than those at Xbox,” said Howard.