What would you do when you have $7.5 billion in your bank account? Would you build an exclusive beach house after acquiring a private island in the Pacific? How about renting out a snowy resort in the Alps so you can hit the slopes with your reliable Giro ski helmet and Burton snowboards? With that amount of money, most people won’t need to work a day in their lives. They would enjoy what the world has to offer and fulfill whatever activity is on the bucket list.
For technology giant Microsoft, though, the answer to that question is buying one of the most popular game studios of the decade. Gamers all over the world were shocked when Microsoft announced they’re acquiring Zenimax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, and other well-known developers such as id Software and MachineGames. The news couldn’t be timelier as the pre-orders of Microsoft’s latest console, Xbox Series X and Series S, go live Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Concerns about the Bethesda sale to Microsoft
The acquisition raises many questions about the future of both Microsoft and Bethesda. Some are welcomed, such as having crossover games across the different studios and the prioritization of Bethesda’s highly anticipated franchises. While other outcomes, such as perpetuating the dreaded console exclusivity and the threat of cookie-cutter games, can make any gamer shudder. Conflicts of interests also exist since Bethesda already promised timed exclusives to be released only on the Sony PlayStation.
Concerns with exclusivity
Anyone forced to choose between PlayStation and Xbox would agree on how much console exclusive games are the worst. This strategy has created a wall between fans of the two consoles. That has contributed to the toxicity of the console wars. It’s no wonder then that most gamers, especially PlayStation fans, are wary about the acquisition. Microsoft has a right to decree all future Bethesda games exclusive to Xbox to encourage people to choose their console. Anticipated titles such as the next Elder Scrolls and Fallout might only be available to Xbox owners, leaving PlayStation gamers in the dust.
Xbox head Phil Spencer shared in a Bloomberg interview that they’re not closing the door to the other third-party platforms and consoles. He said that the company will ‘take it on a case-by-case basis.’ Given Microsoft’s history with their acquired studios, it can go both ways. Microsoft made Mojang’s Minecraft available on every platform, while Obsidian Entertainment’s Avowed is only on the Xbox and PC.
Possibility of crossover games
With Microsoft’s impressive list of game studios under its wing, having crossover games is in the realm of possibilities. They are the only major video game company that doesn’t have one in the works. Nintendo already has the Super Smash brothers while Sony has Playstation All-Stars. Microsoft now has enough characters to make a crossover game. Imagine what they could come up with as Microsoft has control over many popular franchises like Doom, Halo, Wolfenstein, and Age of Empires. The company owns a lot of the well-loved titles that took generations to build and market.
It’s difficult to predict the future of gaming as big names continue to buy smaller studios and developers. Every gamer will have to hope that Microsoft will take the interests of fans to heart.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.