Microsoft to acquire gaming group ZeniMax Media for $7.5bn

Microsoft has announced plans to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of game developer Bethesda Softworks, for $7.5 billion in cash.

Bethesda brings a portfolio of games - including bestsellers The Elder Scrolls, Doom and Fallout - technology and talent to Microsoft's Xbox.

A statement from the tech giant explained that games are the primary growth engine in gaming, fuelling new cloud-gaming services like Xbox Game Pass, which has reached a new milestone of over 15 million subscribers.

With the addition of Bethesda, Microsoft will grow from 15 to 23 creative studio teams and will be adding Bethesda’s franchises to Xbox Game Pass.

“Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialise and play with their friends,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft. “Quality differentiated content is the engine behind the growth and value of Xbox Game Pass - from Minecraft to Flight Simulator."

The planned acquisition includes publishing offices and development studios spanning the globe, with over 2,300 employees, including Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog and Roundhouse Studios.

Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media was founded in 1999 by chairman and chief executive Robert A. Altman. Bethesda’s structure and leadership will remain in place.

“We have enjoyed a close partnership with Microsoft for decades, and this deal is a natural progression of those years working together,” said Altman. “We are continuing to develop our slate of AAA games, but now with Microsoft’s scale and entire Game Stack, our games can only get better.”

Microsoft expects the acquisition to close in the second half of fiscal year 2021.

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