Mi­crosoft buys ZeniMax Me­dia in $7.5bn deal

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By James Cook

MI­CROSOFT has ac­quired ZeniMax Me­dia, owner of video game stu­dio Bethesda, for $7.5bn (£5.8bn) in its largest ever pur­chase in the video games in­dus­try.

Bethesda has be­come a lead­ing games stu­dio thanks to hit games such as the Fall­out se­ries, the El­der Scrolls se­ries and the Doom games. ZeniMax, based in Rockville, Mary­land, also owns sev­eral other stu­dios across the globe. Mi­crosoft con­firmed the deal in a blog post yes­ter­day, writ­ing that its Xbox di­vi­sion and Bethesda “have a close and sto­ried his­tory work­ing to­gether”.

The ac­qui­si­tion will see Mi­crosoft gain con­trol over Bethesda’s out­put, po­ten­tially al­low­ing it to bring fu­ture games to Xbox con­soles ex­clu­sively or with a timed re­lease win­dow be­fore they are made avail­able on Sony’s ri­val PlayS­ta­tion video games sys­tem.

The deal, con­ducted en­tirely in cash, is ex­pected to close in the sec­ond half of Mi­crosoft’s 2021 fis­cal year. It will give Mi­crosoft ac­cess to Bethesda’s 2,300 em­ploy­ees across eight new video game de­vel­op­ment stu­dios, bring­ing its to­tal to 23 as the com­pany pre­pares for the next wave of video games due to be re­leased from the end of 2020 on­wards.

Bethesda vice-pres­i­dent Peter Hines wrote in a blog post that the sale to Mi­crosoft “al­lows us to make even bet­ter games go­ing for­ward”.

Todd Howard, a di­rec­tor at Bethesda who leads de­vel­op­ment of the key El­der Scrolls and Fall­out games, wrote yes­ter­day that Mi­crosoft had been Bethesda’s “long­est and clos­est part­ner”.

Mi­crosoft is pre­par­ing to re­lease its next-gen­er­a­tion se­ries of Xbox con­soles later this year in com­pe­ti­tion with Sony.

It an­nounced a lower-cost “Se­ries S” con­sole which will not in­clude a disc drive but will be priced at a com­pet­i­tive £249.

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