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Microsoft purchases Bethesda Softworks in industry-changing acquisition

Enlarge / Just a few of the gaming franchises Microsoft now owns.

Major game franchises like Doom, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and more are now Microsoft properties. That’s because the Xbox and Windows maker announced Monday morning it is buying the corporate parent of Bethesda Softworks, ZeniMax Media.

“Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways,” Microsoft wrote in its announcement. “All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you.”

Bethesda has confirmed an acquisition price tag of $7.5 billion. For context, that’s three times the price Microsoft paid for Minecraft maker Mojang back in 2014.

Mojang, of course, continued to be a multiplatform developer after its Microsoft acquisition; a decision that led to the odd sight of Microsoft publishing a Mario-themed “Mash-Up Pack” for Minecraft on Nintendo consoles. But Minecraft was a relatively unique situation where the acquired game was built around cross-platform compatibility among a heavily established fanbase. Microsoft seems less likely to extend that same multiplatform courtesy to Bethesda’s gaming properties, which will now likely only be available on Xbox systems and Windows.

The Zenimax purchase is a massive capper to an already massive string of acquisitions by Microsoft Game Studios in recent years. The company scooped up Psychonuats 2 studio Double Fine last year, and a year before that purchased Undead Labs (State of Decay), Playground Games (Forza Horizon), Ninja Theory (Hellblade), and Compulsion Games (We Happy Few).

Microsoft also purchased Obsidian Entertainment in 2018, putting the developer of Fallout: New Vegas and the owner of the Fallout IP under the same corporate roof once again.

This is a developing story and will be updated with more information.

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