Hours before console preorders we’re opening for the Xbox Series S/X Microsoft dropped a bombshell with news of the impending acquisition of ZeniMax Media. Included in that are all the development teams under Bethesda Game Studios banner so you’re a fan of the Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom, Rage, etc seeing those games become a permanent fixture of Game Pass may make that subscription become an even more compelling product. It does seem that Microsoft are playing the long game here – though games Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo are still launching first on PlayStation 5 (a deal they’re honouring) it’s likely that future RPGs Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI are going to have a level of exclusivity on Xbox and PC.
There’s also the fact that id Software’s Doom Eternal was an early poster child for Google’s Stadia service and that team’s experience in developing for a competing streaming platform makes them a useful asset now that the xCloud service is starting to roll out in Game Pass. Not to mention the idTech engine which has the potential to be utilized by more studios than ever before. On top of that teams at Bethesda have also tried their hand at VR games too and though there might not be any sign (at all) of there ever being an Xbox headset it helps to have experienced developers as part of the team. There’s also the Orion streaming service they were developing which was the company’s own take on Stadia/xCloud. It’s hard to say how much of this will be leveraged outside of the Bethesda studios as it initially sounds like they will still retain a degree of autonomy but other teams have been flourishing under Xbox (see inXile and Wasteland 3) so it seems like plenty of opportunities there. It’s amazing to think that after all these years some of the talent and IP from Interplay and Black Isle Studios are all back together again under the one umbrella.
Almost as if they are wanting to jump right in with the benefits or this acquisition, Doom Eternal will be making its appearance on Game Pass (Xbox initially) from October 1. How it works out for other platform holders is still open for debate but it seems like it’ll be (as expected) their ecosystem first and the rest on a case by case basis. Seeing as Bethesda’s biggest titles in Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI are potentially years away we may not see the true impact until the end of this generation or the beginning of the next. Plenty of time to discuss I suppose!