Microsoft is in the habit of buying developers to bring under its Xbox brand, doing so in grand fashion today by announcing the acquisition of Zenimax Media and its videogame publisher Bethesda Softworks, which is behind big IP’s like Fallout, DOOM, Skyrim, Wolfenstein and many more.
The agreement sees Microsoft purchase Zenimax Media for $7.5 billion USD (£5.85bn GBP) in cash. This will mean Microsoft has 23 studio teams under its banner – up from 15 – with Bethesda’s franchises now guaranteed to be added to Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft has stated plans to bring: “Bethesda’s future games into Xbox Game Pass the same day they launch on Xbox or PC.”
This may make quite the difference to fans of Bethesda’s franchises planning their next console purchase, with both Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 on their way this holiday season. “Generations of gamers have been captivated by the renowned franchises in the Bethesda portfolio and will continue to be so for years to come as part of Xbox,” said Phil Spencer, executive vice president, Gaming at Microsoft in a statement.
So what does this mean for virtual reality (VR) gamers? Bethesda has supported the VR community with a range of ports and original content over the years, from Fallout 4 VR to Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot. At this stage, there’s no reason to believe that support for VR will stop, even if Xbox Series X doesn’t support the technology. Microsoft previously acquired inXile Entertainment in 2018 and by the end of 2020, the studio will be releasing multiplayer shooter Frostpoint VR: Proving Grounds.
There is a greater possibility going forward that Bethesda and its subsidiaries won’t be releasing any content for PlayStation 5 and therefore future PlayStation VR headsets. But this won’t be happening right away, as this type of process isn’t quick with Microsoft expecting the acquisition to be completed in the second half of 2021. “We’re still working on the same games we were yesterday, made by the same studios we’ve worked with for years, and those games will be published by us,” adds SVP of PR & Marketing Pete Hines in a blog posting.
The announcement continues a selection of acquisitions affecting the VR gaming landscape, with Koch Media purchasing Vertigo Games this month, the team behind Arizona Sunshine, Skyworld, Ghost Patrol VR and A Fisherman’s Tale. Whilst Facebook picked up Ready at Dawn, the creator of Lone Echo and Echo VR, currently working on Lone Echo 2.
VRFocus will continue its coverage of Microsoft’s acquisition of Zenimax Media, reporting back with further updates.