Earlier this week, tech giant Microsoft announced its acquisition of Zenimax Media. This news set the tech world alight.
The $7.5 billion (yes, $7.5 billion) acquisition gives Microsoft control of some of the worlds biggest gaming studios, including Bethesda, ID Software, Arkane, Machine Games and Tango Gameworks. This gives them control of massive games and franchises such as Prey, Skyrim, Fallout, The Evil Within, DOOM, Wolfenstein and many more.
This acquisition has some widespread implications in the ongoing console wars between Microsoft and Sony. Since the release of the PS4 in 2013, Sony has firmly held a strong lead against Microsoft’s Xbox series of consoles. Things looked to be heading towards this same outcome again with the announcement of the PS5 and PS5 digital editions compared to the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S. Experts were expecting the PS5 to outsell the Xbox due to factors like the PS5 digital being as powerful as the PS5, while the Xbox Series S is generally still pretty powerful, but not as much so as its big brother, the series X.
Another factor that has given Sony a lead is its perceived advantage in console exclusive games. People have overwhelmingly agreed that while there are some good games in the Xbox launch lineup, the PS5 launch just has a lot more high profile games. This acquisition has changed things. While the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, has stated the plan for PS5 exclusives is to respect any exclusivity agreements, it’s safe to assume they’ll probably make some high profile games exclusive or, at the very least, timed exclusives.
In regards to what Microsoft would do business-wise to Zenimax and its subsidiaries, head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, stated in an interview with CNBC that, “Our plan is to leave it alone …” also saying, “we want to make Zenimax the best Zenimax it can be …” I’m sure this puts many game developers’ minds at ease, as being a developer at even the largest studios is not always the safest position. We have seen the acquisition of major studios like this before, often a giant like EA buying other companies, like Black Box Games and Pandemic, and shuttering them. The latter of these two studios closed only two years after acquisition, after having previously provided us with some of the greatest games of the decade.
Other things are also looking bright for Xbox and Microsoft. They have built up a great system for gamers in the aptly named Xbox Game Pass and Gamepass Ultimate. Gamepass Ultimate gets you access to hundreds of games across your Xbox and computer for only $15.99 monthly. This includes EAplay, and already we are seeing many games from studios under the Zenimax family appear on the service. They also just recently announced xCloud, their new cloud streaming service, which will enable players to access 100 games initially on their android devices.
With 15 million people using Game Pass, it’s safe to say the acquisition of Zenimax Media will only bring positive benefits for gamers in the Xbox ecosystem. It remains to be seen how this move will affect the millions of gamers in Sony’s ecosystem.