OPINION: WHY MICROSOFT REALLY BOUGHT BETHESDA

 This week began with one of the loudest news of the year - Microsoft announced the acquisition of ZeniMax holding. The latter owned the studios id Software, MachineGames, Arkane, Tango Gameworks, Bethesda Softworks and Bethesda Game Studios - now all of them (as well as the little-known Alpha Dog and Roundhouse Studios) are owned by Microsoft. Great announcement a day before pre-orders for the next generation Xbox!

OPINION: WHY MICROSOFT REALLY BOUGHT BETHESDA

Everything is lost?

The deal amounted to a fabulous $ 7.5 billion. An absurd number, but for the gaming industry this is still not a record - in 2016, the Chinese giant Tencent acquired the Finnish studio Supercell for $ 8.57 billion, having acquired the mobile hits Clash of Clans and Clash Royale. However, if you count only the makers of console games, the case is unprecedented - except for the $ 2.5 billion purchase of Mojang that Microsoft made in 2014. The mergers of Sony with Insomniac ($ 229 million), EA with Respawn (over $ 300 million) and other companies do not seem impressive against this background - but the scale is still not the same.


The audience reacted differently to the news. Xbox fans rejoiced - now the Microsoft console seems to be an even cooler platform, because the company now owns not 15 studios, but 23, so the number of quality exclusives will grow significantly. The PlayStation fans were not happy with the announcement as expected - so many years to wait for The Elder Scrolls VI and pin such hopes on Starfield, in order to eventually acquire another console or update the internals of the computer? Morrowind was once exclusive to PC and Xbox, what if history repeats itself?


The news that followed the announcement added fuel to the fire. Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that decisions about the release of upcoming Bethesda games on "other consoles" will be considered on a "case-by-case basis." The word PlayStation was not spoken - maybe it was all about the Nintendo Switch, where Microsoft allows to port some games published with its support, like the Ori dilogy. And studio Obsidian seems to have hinted at the possibility of a sequel to Fallout: New Vegas.

Maybe at least a remaster or remake can be expected now?

But is it worth worrying about the possible exclusivity of the highly anticipated games? Now it is difficult to answer this question - the next two releases of Bethesda (Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo) will generally be temporary PS5 exclusives, so we will not see the consequences of the deal very soon. But one thing is clear - by investing such a huge amount of money, Microsoft wants to recapture them. To do this, the company will lure the audience into its own services, but it is not a fact that its games will not be sold in others. It's just that others don't offer a good Xbox Game Pass subscription.


Ace in the sleeve

The ZeniMax acquisition means all new Bethesda games will be available to Xbox Game Pass subscribers on release day, just like all other Microsoft studios. If you look at the latest PC games, they are not sold exclusively in the T-shirt store - everyone can buy them on Steam. This applies to both Wasteland 3 and Microsoft Flight Simulator - from the first day of existence, these new items have been available on the Valve site. But if on Steam you need to pay $ 60 for each of them, then a monthly subscription will cost six times cheaper, and for many this is a sufficient reason to get one.


The same thing happens with consoles, although not in all cases. The fact that Microsoft bought Obsidian Entertainment became known about a month before the announcement of The Outer Worlds - but the PlayStation 4 version was not canceled, and after some time the RPG reached the Nintendo Switch. Wasteland 3 was recently released on PS4 as well, although inXile Entertainment merged with Xbox Game Studios two years ago.

There is a feeling that the purchases will not end there.

At the same time, the next project Obsidian (Avowed) will be exclusive to Xbox and PC, as reported immediately. But about Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI nothing has been said over the past day, although the games have long been announced and the words "Now these are exclusives of our console" would have sounded especially loud. Microsoft seems to be deliberately keeping silent about such an important detail, so that we believe in the exclusivity of these projects and choose the next main platform with this in mind.


The unpredictability of Microsoft and Bethesda does not allow us to say with certainty whether three or four years later, there will be no new Fallout, no new DOOM, or new Wolfenstein on the PS5. The creators of The Elder Scrolls Online have already confirmed that the PlayStation versions will continue to receive updates and nothing will change, but this does not prove anything - it would be foolish to just leave MMO subscribers. But the fate of single-player games remains in question.

Turn the other way

But even if Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI are released on PS5, some of the audience will still look towards the new Microsoft consoles or even decide to switch to them from the PlayStation. This is especially true for the Xbox Series S, a $ 299 nextgen - a competitor does not offer a platform for such a price.


Of course, Microsoft is suffering serious losses by charging such a price tag, but in the long run it could be a success if a user goes for such a console specifically for the Xbox Game Pass subscription. Paying $ 10 a month (or $ 15 if you're interested in multiplayer too) and get new Scrolls and a ton of other games? Who would refuse that, especially when the games cost $ 70 and € 80?

Opinion why microsoft really bought berhesda

In other words, Microsoft is unlikely to have spent $ 7.5 billion just to make the person who bought the PS5 lose a pack of good games. More convincing is the situation in which Microsoft wants to lure such a person, tell him that he is throwing money down the drain, spending $ 70 / € 80 on a new product instead of mere kopecks against the background of these prices. That he can buy a cheap console and get exactly the same experience, and in the future he will have a lot of cool things: all parts of Forza, and Fable, and a ton of RPGs from Obsidian and inXile, and all sorts of indies.


The benefits that an Xbox Game Pass subscriber receive looks much more impressive when prices for the same releases are seen on other platforms. If it turns out that games of interest to a person will be released one after another on Steam or on PS5 and he has to pay full price for each of them, the toad can begin to choke very quickly. And Microsoft is doing this - Phil Spencer constantly says in interviews that he does not care about the number of consoles sold, that success cannot be judged by only one indicator, that all platforms are good. The main thing for Microsoft is to lure the player into its own ecosystem, whether it's Xbox consoles or Windows PCs. And for this it is not necessary to limit him - it is better to make an offer that he cannot refuse.

The list of monthly additions to Xbox Game Pass looks impressive every time.

Only one thing is clear - Xbox Game Pass seems to many to be an unprofitable service, which, logically, should not bring normal money to Microsoft, but the company persistently continues to develop it and does not plan to stop. By purchasing studios, she solves two problems at once: both improves the situation with the games she publishes, and makes the selection in her subscription more and more attractive. And after the news of the ZeniMax acquisition, the subscription has become even more valuable - even if the games are not exclusive in the end, the number of people willing to buy them on PS5 may decrease.

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