What does the deal between Microsoft and Bethesda mean for players?

On September 21, Microsoft announced the purchase of ZeniMax Media, which owns Bethesda, Arkane, id Software, MachineGames, and several other smaller studios. The deal itself, which is estimated at $ 7.5 billion, is expected to close by the end of June 2021 – but these are all formalities that ultimately mean little to players.

Much more interesting is what this deal may lead to in the future. And it is possible, of course, that everything was started only in order to make The Elder Scrolls VI exclusive to Microsoft, but this would be an obvious and, perhaps, the most uninteresting scenario. Let’s think about what else this can mean for all of us – those who are preparing for the launch of the next generation and are just waiting for cool games.

Right now, this deal is an ingenious marketing ploy that means about nothing.

The agreement between Microsoft and ZeniMax Media is indeed almost a “deal of the century” for the gaming industry and everyone involved, but right now, in September 2020, this is primarily a brilliant marketing move in the “war” of new generation consoles. Neither Microsoft, Bethesda, nor other ZeniMax Media studios have announced any new games or announcements for their releases until the end of the year – and more importantly, the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X games lineup on launch day. consoles.

Do you remember Demonouls Souls?

And if before it seemed to you that in November Microsoft had nothing to “cover” Sony, which at the launch will have a remake of Demon’s Souls (2020), which is nowhere, except on the PlayStation 5, not to play, now there is hardly anything to your opinion. that should have an effect. The actual balance of power in this “war”, despite the high-profile deal, remained the same. And those looking to buy a new Xbox will buy a new Xbox. And those who were going to go to the store for the PS5 will go after her.

Or not?

The very fact that Microsoft, thanks to this deal, sometime in the future can make the new The Elder Scrolls its exclusive or, say, give Arkane money to develop Prey 2, means more to many than the opportunity to play a remake of Demon’s Souls on PlayStation 5. on the day the console was launched.

And that’s okay – we say, a brilliant marketing ploy. Made on the eve of the start of pre-orders for the new Xbox.

The exclusivity of TES 6 cannot be ruled out, but Microsoft has not waged console “wars” with exclusives for a long time

As we wrote above, no one has yet said anything about games – including about their exclusivity for a particular platform. Nevertheless, the network has already started talking that the new games Bethesda – the same TES 6 – and other ZeniMax Media studios can only come out on Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and, possibly, on PC.

And yes, such a possibility cannot be ruled out, since no one has argued otherwise, but do not forget that Microsoft itself has not used exclusives as a final argument in console “wars” for a long time.

Instead, it is developing a service – that is, an ecosystem in which there are PCs on Windows and Xbox (and more recently, smartphones), and its own Game Pass subscription with a huge library of games. The company still has formal exclusives – the same Halo, Forza and Gears of War exist only within the ecosystem described above on PC and Xbox and have never appeared on Sony consoles. But in the end, their conditional exclusivity is not as important as the fact that all new games from these series appear in Game Pass on release day.

And if you actively use the service, play a lot of games and perceive Game Pass as “Netflix for games”, the availability of new projects on release day without additional costs and problems plays an important role. It is clear that the subscription still costs money, but the Game Pass for a year costs several times less than the announced PS5 exclusives at the moment all together. And on a subconscious level, when you already have a subscription, the opportunity to play a game by “game pass” is associated with the word “free”. Of course, not free, but the game appeared in Game Pass, you don’t pay for it separately, you just download and play.

And if we cannot say yet about any exclusivity of the new Bethesda games, then there is hardly any doubt that they will all appear in Game Pass. They may not appear, of course, no one has said anything yet – but if so, then why all this at all? And if they do appear, for many, I’m sure a much more attractive option would be to play the same The Elder Scrolls 6 on Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S through Game Pass, and not buy it on PS5 for 5-6 thousand rubles. And there will be no difference, whether it is an exclusive game or not.

Plus ZeniMax Media is still a company with its own budgets and development strategy. And she also needs to make money, Microsoft won’t be able to sponsor her studios forever. It will be strange if the same Bethesda, which has been selling the multiplatform all its life, suddenly abandons part of the market.

On the other hand, these are all just guesses. Microsoft can do just about anything. She has already said that the PS5 will retain the temporary exclusivity of Deathloop (she’s not so generous, and the previously concluded agreements seem to be binding). And also – that the availability of all future games on different platforms will be discussed after the fact. It can be either temporary exclusivity, or complete, or exclusivity for some of the content.

In addition, Phil Spencer, with the same sly smile, first gives the go-ahead to Halo: Infinite for Xbox Series X, after which he announces Minecraft Dungeons, which will also be released on PS4, and then “releases” both parts of Ori on Switch. So it’s really too early to think about it – anything can happen.

Games that previously could only be dreamed of can now become reality

This deal, among other things, opens up a lot of opportunities for developers and, possibly, involves additional budgets – including the creation of games that Bethesda would not have spent before.

This is The Evil Within 3: the second part is one of the best survival horror stories of our time, which did not bring the expected sales. And, for example, Prey 2 is the main game in the immersive sim genre to date, the first part of which also fell short of sales expectations. It is also a sequel to Dishonored, or an offshoot in the same universe, but with different characters.

This is Fallout: New Vegas 2: the game may well return to Obsidian – both the studio itself and the rights to the series are now in the hands of Microsoft.

These are the new Quake and Doom from John Carmack: the creator of both series has already expressed the hope that in the future he will be able to work on id Software games again.

This is Fallout Online (not Fallout 76, but a normal game): the same The Elder Scrolls Online showed itself perfectly, pleasing both those who wanted to play it in the MMO, and those who were waiting for a single adventure.

There are many more games that one might not even be aware of.

Microsoft has all the best developers

Few people think about it, but right now Microsoft is working:

  • Tim Shafer – Founder of Double Fine, Full Throttle and Grim Fandango screenwriter, Psychonauts and Brütal Legend creator, Jack Black’s best friend;
  • Brian Fargo – Founder of inXile, creator of Torment: Tides of Numenera and Wasteland 2 and Wasteland 3;
  • Tim Kane – Obsidian Writer, Fallout Creator, Founder of the now-closed Troika Games, and Development Lead for The Outer Worlds
  • Leonard Boyarski – Tim Kane’s colleague, Fallout and Diablo 3 designer, co-creator of The Outer Worlds;
  • Todd Howard – Producer of Bethesda Game Studios, Head of Development for The Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind, Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, the hero of numerous Skyrim memes;
  • Harvey Smith – Arkane Game Designer, Deus Ex Designer and Dishonored Creative Lead;
  • Shinji Mikami – Founder of Tango Gameworks, creator of the Resident Evil series, The Evil Within, currently working on GhostWire: Tokyo;
  • Hugo Martin is the creative director of id Software and the last two Doom titles;
  • And many more developers who donated games like We Happy Few, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Forza Motorsport, Gears 5 and so on.

All of these people may well make some of the most important next generation games. And these games will be owned by Microsoft.

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