In March, ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, was acquired by Microsoft. This arrangement covered Bethesda subsidiary studios like Arkane, the creator of Dishonoured, MachineGames, the creator of Wolfenstein, id Software, the creator of Doom, and Tango Gameworks, the creator of The Evil Within.
One of the primary drivers behind Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax, the parent firm of Bethesda, has been revealed by the Xbox head of Microsoft. It is the “possible Starfield PlayStation exclusivity.” Phil Spencer, CEO of Microsoft Gaming, revealed today at the FTC vs. Microsoft hearing that Sony frequently pays rivals to “skip our platform” and that Microsoft believed it needed to buy Bethesda to compete.
“When we acquired ZeniMax one of the impetus for that is that Sony had made a deal for Deathloop and Ghostwire to pay Bethesda to not ship those games on Xbox. So the discussion about Starfield when we heard that Starfield was potentially also going to end up skipping Xbox, we can’t be in a position as a third-place console where we fall further behind on our content ownership so we’ve had to secure content to remain viable in the business,” said Spencer.
ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Elder Scrolls and Fallout studio Bethesda Softworks, was purchased by Microsoft for $7.5 billion. Microsoft promised Xbox and PC exclusives at the conclusion of the agreement, and so far Redfall has been released, with Starfield scheduled to launch on September 6th. The forthcoming Indiana Jones game from Bethesda is only available on Xbox and PC.
Today, a significant portion of Spencer’s testimony focused on presenting Sony as a combative and aggressive rival. Spencer claims that the only way to compete with Sony is by buying up Bethesda and attempting to acquire Activision Blizzard. The estimated value of the planned Activision Blizzard acquisition is $68.7 billion.