As it gets set to unveil its new Xbox gaming consoles later this year, Microsoft announced its intention to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of video game studio Bethesda Game Studios, for $7.5 billion in cash.
Bethesda is responsible for such hit video game series as "Elder Scrolls," "Doom," Fallout," "Wolfenstein" and others. In a statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the acquisition would help Microsoft's upcoming GamePass service, akin to a Netflix for gaming.
“Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialize and play with their friends,” said Nadella in the statement. “Quality differentiated content is the engine behind the growth and value of Xbox Game Pass—from Minecraft to Flight Simulator. As a proven game 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.”
In a blog post, Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, said the acquisition has a long history behind it.
"Bethesda’s games have always had a special place on Xbox and in the hearts of millions of gamers around the world," Spencer wrote. "Our teams have a close and storied history working together, from the amazing first DOOM, and its id Tech engine, innovating games on PCs to Bethesda bringing their first console game to the original Xbox, the groundbreaking The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Over the years I’ve had many deep conversations with the creative leaders at Bethesda on the future of gaming and we’ve long shared similar visions for the opportunities for creators and their games to reach more players in more ways."
The announcement comes ahead of Microsoft's new consoles, the Xbox Series S and Series X, which will be priced at $299 and $499, respectively. Both consoles will be available on Nov. 10, ahead of the all-important holiday shopping season.
Sony is also slated to launch its upcoming console, dubbed the PlayStation 5, in the coming weeks. Pre-orders for the console were recently the subject of criticism, as the Japanese-based technology company did not have enough order inventory to fill the needs of consumers.
Competitor Nintendo is reported to be boosting the production of its popular Switch console ahead of the upcoming holiday shopping period.
Nintendo is also expected to launch a new version of the Switch console in 2021.
Shares of Microsoft were sharply lower on Monday, falling 1.8% to trade at $196.87.