Microsoft’s announcement earlier this week that it would acquire game publisher Bethesda and its parent company ZeniMax was something of a seismic event: it shook the video game world to its core, and may have even made some people change their minds regarding which console to buy.
It certainly has done the Xbox brand plenty of good as it brings major studios like Bethesda under its wing. These are the people behind the Elder Scrolls and Fallout series, some of the most popular in gaming, and have sold millions of copies to date and have countless fans worldwide.
But I think it’s very likely that Microsoft was drawn to Bethesda in part due to the success of their great Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim video game. This has been ported to more platforms than you can shake a stick at, while it also has an ardent mod community producing extra content for it. In many ways Skyrim’s success echoes that of Minecraft’s, a video game Microsoft splashed an insane amount of money for back in 2014.
Mind you, that deal pales in comparison to the $7.5 billion US dollars Microsoft has paid for Bethesda, which also includes studios like Tango Gameworks (makers of The Evil Within 2) and id Software (the people behind the Doom and Wolfenstein games).
“We’ll always look for places where there is that commonality of purpose, mission and culture”, Nadella said in the interview, suggesting other video game companies sharing Microsoft’s values could end up being scooped up by the Redmond giant next.
“We will always look to grow inorganically where it makes sense”, Nadella added.
Thankfully, though, Microsoft will apparently let any video game companies it buys operate semi-independently, as Xbox boss Phil Spencer said in an interview. “It is about the culture of those teams”, said Spencer. “They’re not about becoming us”.
So, the big question is, who could be next on Microsoft’s list? Some have suggested Sega might be the next target, as it is no longer the legendary video game company it used to be but still has important properties under its belt like Sonic, the Yakuza franchise and the Persona series, the latter having enjoyed quite a bit of success as of late.
Others have pointed to Konami, which owns the Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill IPs, which certainly would be good additions to the Xbox roster of games, especially taking into account these have been PlayStation exclusives in the past.
Microsoft could also make a bid for Kojima Productions, and bring legendary designer Hideo Kojima under its belt, although taking into account Kojima’s relationship with Sony this seems far-fetched right now.
However, Phil Spencer has said in the past that he was looking to bag a Japanese studio and any of these would fit the bill. Mind you, he already got one with Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda, namely Tango Gameworks, meaning the next Evil Within might well be an Xbox exclusive.
These are exciting times to be a gamer then, and it’s clear that Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda has improved Xbox’s chances going into the next generation. And things could get better still for Microsoft if it can bolster its roster of first-party studios with more acquisitions, something we’ll keep you posted about if and when it happens.