On September 21, 2020 Microsoft announced the purchase of ZeniMax Media, which owns Bethesda, Arkane, id Software, MachineGames and several other small studios. The deal itself, which is estimated at $ 7.5 billion, was closed in March 2021 – but all these are formalities that ultimately mean little to players.
Much more interesting is what this deal may lead to in the future. And it is possible, of course, that everything was started only in order to make The Elder Scrolls VI exclusive to Microsoft, but this would be an obvious and, perhaps, the most uninteresting scenario. Let’s think about what else this could mean for all of us.
Right now, this deal is an ingenious marketing ploy that means about nothing.
The agreement between Microsoft and ZeniMax Media is indeed almost a “deal of the century” for the gaming industry and everyone involved, but right now it is primarily a brilliant marketing move in the “war” of next-generation consoles. Neither Microsoft, Bethesda, nor other ZeniMax Media studios announced any new games or made any announcements about their future releases – and more importantly, the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X games lineup on launch day.
And if before it seemed to you that Microsoft had nothing to “cover” Sony, which already had a remake of Demon’s Souls (2020) at the launch, which can not be played anywhere except on the PlayStation 5, now there is hardly anything to your opinion. should affect. The actual balance of power in this “war”, despite the high-profile deal, remained the same. And those looking to buy a new Xbox will buy a new Xbox. And those who were going to go to the store for the PS5 will go after her.
The very fact that Microsoft, thanks to this deal, sometime in the future can make the new The Elder Scrolls its exclusive, or, say, give Arkane money to develop Prey 2, means more to many than the opportunity to play a remake of Demon’s Souls on PlayStation 5 …
And that’s okay – I say, a brilliant marketing ploy.
The exclusivity of TES 6 cannot be ruled out
Phil Spencer has already stated that some of the games being created and will be created by Zenimax studios will become PC and Xbox exclusives. However, he has not yet mentioned specific names. Nevertheless, the network has already started talking that the new games of Bethesda itself – the same TES 6 – can only be released on Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows.
And yes, such a possibility cannot be ruled out, since no one has argued otherwise, but do not forget that Microsoft itself has not used exclusives as a final argument in console “wars” for a long time.
Instead, it is developing a service – that is, an ecosystem in which there are PCs on Windows and Xbox (and more recently, smartphones), and its own Game Pass subscription with a huge library of games. The company still has formal exclusives – the same Halo, Forza and Gears of War exist only within the ecosystem described above on PC and Xbox and have never appeared on Sony consoles. But in the end, their conditional exclusivity is not as important as the fact that all new games from these series appear in Game Pass on release day.
And if you actively use the service, play a lot of games and perceive Game Pass as “Netflix for games”, the availability of new projects on release day without additional costs and problems plays an important role. It is clear that the subscription still costs money, but the Game Pass for a year costs several times less than the announced PS5 exclusives at the moment all together. And on a subconscious level, when you already have a subscription, the opportunity to play a game by “gamepass” is associated with the word “free”. Of course, not free, but the game appeared in Game Pass, you don’t pay for it separately, you just download and play.
And given the fact that all new games from Bethesda and other Zenimax studios will appear in Game Pass, for many, I’m sure a much more attractive option would be to play The Elder Scrolls 6 on Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S through this service. , and not buy it on PS5 for 5-6 thousand rubles. And there will be no difference, whether this is an exclusive game or not.
On the other hand, Microsoft can do just about anything. She has already said that the PS5 will retain the temporary exclusivity of Deathloop (she is not so generous, and the previously concluded agreements seem to be binding). And also – that the availability of all future games on different platforms will be discussed after the fact. It can be either temporary exclusivity, or complete, or exclusivity for some of the content.
In addition, Phil Spencer, with the same sly smile, first gives the go-ahead to Halo: Infinite for Xbox Series X, after which he announces Minecraft Dungeons, which will also be released on PS4, and then “releases” both parts of Ori on Switch. So it’s really too early to think about it – anything can happen.
Games that previously could only be dreamed of can now become reality
This deal, among other things, opens up a lot of opportunities for developers and, possibly, involves additional budgets – including the creation of games that Bethesda would not have spent before.
This is The Evil Within 3: the second part is one of the best survival horror stories of our time, which did not bring the expected sales. And, for example, Prey 2 is the main immersive sim game to date, which also fell short of sales expectations. It is also a sequel to Dishonored, or an offshoot in the same universe, but with different heroes.
This is Fallout: New Vegas 2: the game may well return to Obsidian – both the studio itself and the rights to the series are now in the hands of Microsoft.
These are the new Quake and Doom from John Carmack: the creator of both series has already expressed the hope that in the future he will be able to work on id Software games again.
This is Fallout Online (not Fallout 76, but a normal game): the same The Elder Scrolls Online proved to be excellent, pleasing both those who wanted to play it in the MMO, and those who were waiting for a single adventure.
There are many more games that one might not even be aware of.
Microsoft has all the best developers
Few people think about it, but right now Microsoft is working:
- Tim Schaefer – Founder of Double Fine, Full Throttle and Grim Fandango writer, Psychonauts and Brütal Legend creator, Jack Black’s best friend;
- Brian Fargo – founder of inXile, creator of Torment: Tides of Numenera and Wasteland 2 and Wasteland 3;
- Tim Kane – Writer Obsidian, creator of Fallout, founder of the now closed Troika Games and head of development for The Outer Worlds;
- Leonard Boyarski – Tim Kane’s colleague, Fallout and Diablo 3 designer, co-creator of The Outer Worlds;
- Todd Howard – Producer of Bethesda Game Studios, head of development for The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind, Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, the hero of numerous memes about “Skyrim”;
- Harvey Smith – Arkane Game Designer, Deus Ex Designer and Dishonored Creative Lead
- Shinji Mikami – Founder of Tango Gameworks, creator of the Resident Evil series, The Evil Within, currently working on GhostWire: Tokyo;
- Hugo martin – Creative Director of id Software and the last two Doom installments;
- And many more developers who donated games like We Happy Few, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Forza Motorsport, Gears 5 and so on.
All of these people could well make some of the most important next generation games. And these games will be owned by Microsoft.