Seems like the commentary currently around Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media and Bethesda Game Studios has been either been associated with popcorn or pitchforks. A lot of gamers already invested in Microsoft’s ecosystem are happy and will be quickly seeing the benefits, especially if you have Game Pass, but on the other hand those invested in other platforms are less impressed in that they may see a drop in the number of titles the once independent publisher will bring to their systems of choice. A recent roundtable discussion (see below) made it pretty clear Game Pass is where the focus will be but it doesn’t necessarily mean the end for other platforms however I don’t think we’ll fully see the impact of that until the new game announcements start coming.
I do think there’s something else positive that’s worth mentioning about the acquisition and that is a number of development studios are being taken care of as well as some significant IP and technology in there too – some with a long history with Microsoft. Though it’s been mentioned how Bethesda’s relationship really kicked off with Morrowind on Xbox it went back even further for id Software when the Windows 95 port of Doom was released. No doubt there’s a lot of people at Microsoft who remember that as it was an important time when the company was trying to move gamers away from MS-DOS. Apart from a fresh injection of titles for Game Pass it looks clear that Microsoft is playing the long game here and the the real rewards of this deal might still be months or years away. If it needed to happen I’m glad Bethesda didn’t end up with Google, who recently threw away their own internal studios for their cloud gaming platform Stadia, and that perhaps should be celebrated. It’s not going to be the same as it would be if Bethesda remained fully independent but it’s nice to think that games such as Doom and Fallout will continue to be part of the gaming landscape and not a footnote in another company’s long list of failed projects. Still… Microsoft’s past when it comes to game studios hasn’t always been rosy but the sheer magnitude of their investments in recent years hopefully is a positive indicator that they are improving. Office has become a massive success in the cloud/subscription space for Microsoft and if they can succeed with gaming too (ie. xCloud, bolstered by PCs and consoles) they’ve got something that might serve them well into the future.
What do you think? Good, bad or still waiting for the dust to settle? I already have friends making recommendations for the next great game for me to play on Xbox so it’s likely I’ll be busy downloading more soon! Feel free to share your own thoughts below. 🙂