Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media/Bethesda gets a thumbs up from the EU, US

Laurent Giret

Xbox Bethesda

Microsoft can now go forward with its acquisition of ZeniMax Media, the video game juggernaut behind Bethesda and popular franchises such as Fallout, Doom, or The Elder Scrolls. The European Commission approved the $7.5 billion transaction today, right after the US Securities & Exchange Commission did so last week.

The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the combined entity’s limited market position upstream and the presence of strong downstream competitors in the distribution of video games, the European Commission said in a press release. Now that the EU has cleared the acquisition of ZeniMax by Microsoft, it shouldn’t be too long before the Redmond giant makes it official.

The blockbuster deal was announced back in September, signaling a movement of concentration in the video games industry. We’ve since seen EA acquire Codemasters (Formula One, Dirt, Project Cars) for $1.2 million, or Epic Games snag Fall Guys developer Mediatonic for an undisclosed amount. Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media is clearly on another scale, as it will raise the company’s number of first-party studios to 23.

If future ZeniMax/Bethesda games are guaranteed to ship day one on Xbox Game Pass like the rest of the Xbox Game Studios titles, Xbox head Phil Spencer previously said that future games will ship on other consoles “on a case-by-case basis.” Pete Hines SVP, Global Marketing and Communications at Bethesda also explained back in September that the company would continue to operate independently.

With Microsoft about to own some very talented studios known for their excellent single-player games, the company’s Xbox Game Pass subscription service may soon become a must-have for Xbox and PC players. As Google recently announced the closure of its first-party studios making games for its Stadia cloud-gaming platform, Microsoft is likely not done acquiring new studios to supercharge its Xbox Game Pass service.