Microsoft (MSFT) Buying ZeniMax And Game Publisher Bethesda Softworks For $7.5 Billion In Cash

By Amit Chowdhry ● September 21, 2020
  • Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced it is planning to buy ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks for $7.5 billion in cash

Today Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced it is planning to buy ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks — one of the largest privately held game developers and publishers in the world. Known for creating the critically acclaimed and best-selling gaming franchises like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, Bethesda is bringing an impressive group of games, technology, talent as well as a track record of blockbuster commercial success to Xbox. As part of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion in cash.

Recently, Microsoft announced that its cloud-gaming services like Xbox Game Pass has reached a new milestone of more than 15 million subscribers. And with the addition of Bethesda, Microsoft will grow from 15 to 23 creative studio teams and will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass. This includes Microsoft’s plan to bring Bethesda’s future games into Xbox Game Pass the same day they launch on Xbox or PC, like Starfield — which is a highly anticipated new space epic currently in development by Bethesda Game Studios.

The planned acquisition includes publishing offices and development studios, spanning around the world 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 along with Bethesda’s critically acclaimed and best-selling franchises include The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, DOOM, Quake, Wolfenstein, and Dishonored, etc.

Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media was founded in 1999 by Chairman and CEO Robert A. Altman. And Bethesda’s structure and leadership will remain in place.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review. And Microsoft expects the acquisition to close in the second half of fiscal year 2021 and to have minimal impact to non-GAAP operating income in fiscal years 2021 and 2022. Non-GAAP excludes the expected impact of purchase accounting adjustments as well as integration and transaction-related expenses.

“Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialize and play with their friends. Quality differentiated content is the engine behind the growth and value of Xbox Game Pass—from Minecraft to Flight Simulator. As a proven game developer and publisher, Bethesda has seen success across every category of games, and together, we will further our ambition to empower the more than three billion gamers worldwide.”

— Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

“This is an awesome time to be an Xbox fan. In the last 10 days alone, we’ve released details on our two new consoles which go on pre-order tomorrow, launched cloud gaming in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and now we’re making another investment in the most critical part of our strategy: the games. 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.”

— Phil Spencer, executive vice president, Gaming at Microsoft

“This is a thrilling day for this company, our employees, and our fans. We have enjoyed a close partnership with Microsoft for decades, and this deal is a natural progression of those years working together,” said Altman. “The big winners today are our fans. 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.”

— ZeniMax Media Chairman and CEO Robert A. Altman