Six months ago, Microsoft announced plans to buy ZeniMax and its game publisher Bethesda for $7.5 billion in cash. Now, thanks to approval from both EU and U.S. regulators, Microsoft can now proceed with the acquisition of famous gaming franchises including Fallout, Doom, and The Elder Scrolls.
Microsoft cleared the first major hurdle back on March 4 when the SEC quietly published a notice of effectiveness approving the acquisition without any major stipulations. The European Commission followed suit last week after its own review to ensure the deal would not negatively impact competition in the gaming industry.
Now that Microsoft has final approval, it appears the company’s original timeline for the deal remains on track with the acquisition originally expected to close sometime in the second half of 2021.
The big impact of the buyout is that, with Bethesda in tow, Microsoft should have a much wider stable of games and franchises it can add to its console and PC libraries, with the Xbox Series S and X potentially in line for some much-needed future exclusive titles. And if we look outside of traditional consoles and PCs releases, the move should be a huge boon to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Streaming service, especially now that Microsoft is facing increased competition from Google Stadia and more recent competitors like Amazon’s Luna.
Furthermore, Microsoft’s deal comes amid a flurry of recent gaming acquisitions including Epic Games’ impending deal for Fall Guys parent company Tonic Games Group, EA’s purchase of Codemasters, Nintendo’s buyout of Next Level Games, and even Blizzard’s recent merger with Vicarious Visions.
Right now, things have gotten pretty cutthroat in the gaming industry, and it seems a lot of larger organizations are trying to gobble up as many studios as possible to help lock up content for their platforms, and while Microsoft’s ZeniMax/Bethesda buyout might be the largest upcoming acquisition, it certainly won’t be the last