Microsoft is to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Skyrim VR, Fallout 4 VR, Doom VFR and Wolfenstein VR publisher, Bethesda Softworks.
Head of Xbox Phil Spencer announced the news on the Xbox Blog today. All of Bethesda’s family of studios, including id Software, Arkane, Machine Games and more are coming under the Xbox wing. Bethesda is arguably best known for the Elder Scrolls series of role-playing games, but also publishes new entries in famous franchises like Wolfenstein, Doom and Dishonored.
Following the announcement, games industry journalist Jason Schreier reported that Microsoft is paying $7.5 billion in the acquisition.
Bethesda — and the wider ZeniMax Media corporation — also has an interesting history with VR. Over the course of the past four years, Bethesda has put out several VR games, including ports of Skyrim and Fallout 4. It’s also released all-new titles like 2019’s Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot and once promised VR support for mobile spin-off, The Elder Scrolls: Blades, though that’s yet to materialize.
But, going deeper, ZeniMax itself famously took Oculus to court after the company was acquired by Facebook. ZeniMax alleged that legendary game developer John Carmack had stolen Bethesda-owned technology in the process of working with Palmer Luckey on early prototypes of the Oculus Rift and eventually leaving id Software to join Facebook’s VR team. The lawsuit came to ahead in a 2017 court battle that initially saw Facebook ordered to pay ZeniMax $500 million. The payout was eventually halved to $250 million. None of Bethesda’s games have been published on Oculus stores to date.
For the past few years, Microsoft has committed to bringing all of its published games to PC, so it’s safe to assume new Bethesda titles will come to both the new Xbox Series S and Series X console as well as PC. It remains to be seen if future titles will come to PS5, though the upcoming Bethesda-published Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo do have timed exclusivity arrangements with Sony.
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