Technology giant Microsoft announced its acquisition of video game giant ZeniMax Media in a deal that will cost the Redmond-based company $7.5 billion. While ZeniMax may not be a familiar name to many people, it is the publisher that owns Bethesda Softworks, developer of popular titles like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout.
In a Microsoft blog post to confirm the purchase, the Xbox division positioned the acquisition as a way to further connect gamers. Specifically, the company wants to dive deeper into a player-centric era of user integration with software. According to Microsoft, buying ZeniMax will allow more freedom to play across platforms and devices.
The deal will close following regulatory approval, with cash being paid in full to complete the purchase. In doing so, Microsoft will take control of a developer that has had huge success with Elder Scrolls games like Skyrim and Oblivion, Fallout, and the Wolfenstein franchise.
As The Inquisitr reported in July, Amazon is currently developing an adaptation of the Fallout series, which will be helmed by Westworld co-creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan.
For consumers, the acquisition points to Redmond's ongoing goal to create the "Netflix of gaming." That is a term Business Insider reported Satya Nadella used in 2019 to describe efforts within the company. It is also reflected in a growing number of MSFT products that are geared toward the connected experience.
In recent years, the corporation has been evolving its gaming output to reflect a move away from the device-centric era. While the gaming business is still fully behind its console hardware, there has been an increasing push toward services that rely on connectivity.
Cloud technology is helping to steer Microsoft toward becoming a leader in the streaming era. According to the Xbox blog, Project xCloud has been in preview since 2019 and allows users to access popular software on any platform and device. According to the Redmond brand, this means console-quality titles are available anywhere and at any time.
Xbox Game Pass is another service Microsoft is using to deliver its Netflix for video game plans. This is a subscription service that provides access to a catalog of hundreds of titles available for free. It has already been integrated with Project xCloud to create a single all-encompassing streaming service.
Exclusivity has become hugely important in attracting customers to one platform over another. In terms of video games, Microsoft is battling Sony and Nintendo in the console market. The success of any future Xbox console could rely on exclusive games available. By acquiring Bethesda, Microsoft can control some of the most important franchises on the market and keep them out of Sony's hands.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hinted at the importance of exclusivity when the deal was announced.
"Quality differentiated content is the engine behind the growth and value of Xbox Game Pass—from Minecraft to Flight Simulator. As a proven developer and publisher, Bethesda has seen success across every category of games, and together, we will further our ambition to empower the more than three billion gamers worldwide."