Wow, what an interesting development. I had to wait a day to get my thoughts together on this insane purchase. So Microsoft purchased, or is going to make a cash offer and purchase, Zenimax Media for 7.5 billion USD. That will net them studios like Bethesda, Arkane, and ID. More importantly it will make Microsoft the owners of those studios IP, which includes The Elder Scrolls, Doom, Fallout, Prey, Dishonored, and Wolfenstein. Of course there are more studios and games but those are the highlights in my eyes.
I have some thoughts on this acquisition and what it means for Microsoft. First, they’re honoring the previous commitments of exclusivity that was in place prior to the purchase, so Sony will still get their exclusive rights to certain games. That makes sense and is probably more related to contracts than Microsoft being nice. Second, this solves the insane issue of XBox having no real first-party IP for their new console. All of a sudden they have games that they can call their own, or they soon will, just sucks that it will take time for the games to truly roll in.
What I find really interesting about this merger is what happens if Microsoft doesn’t make all these games first-party only? What if they put these games out on game pass for XBox and PC, then sell them as full-priced 70 USD units to Playstation gamers? Or game pass for PS5? That would be really interesting. Microsoft doesn’t have it in the console space, they just don’t have a compelling argument for people to buy their box over the PS5. They want to expand their subscription base and get as many gamers as they can paying 10 USD a month, slowly raise that price over the years and become a Netflix for gamers. That seems to be their goal. The question is, does selling those games to Sony gamers at full price hurt their position?
I don’t think it does. I think it will provide them with billions of dollars in cash that will subsidize the initial investment into Zenimax Media. Certain gamers will not move to the XBox or game pass and want to stick with Sony, so this offers them a chance to not get angry and give Microsoft money, or at least it will for the short term. It will make me move to game pass for the PC (I don’t see a need for getting a Series X right now). I’d rather invest in my computer and play games there and with my PS5 in the living room. This acquisition does temp me into getting game pass on the PC, so they did what they had to do to win me over. Although, I don’t know if I’ll keep paying it every month or go in bursts as I play new games. Perhaps I’ll find it annoying to cancel all the time and just say fuck it, which is what they want.
Would Microsoft just say no to Playstation and Nintendo gamers? Will they cut off Zenimax Media and the studios under it from all those gamers? I don’t see it happening with Nintendo, Microsoft has had a working relationship with them and they don’t feel like real competition either. I could really see it going either way with Sony though. Sony wouldn’t share, that’s for damn sure. Microsoft does share Minecraft, so that could lead us to assume that it’s at least possible that they’d continue sharing with these companies.
It’s a really fascinating time, and time is what will determine how this all shakes out. This decision really did solidify me into having a PS5 and PC as a gaming combo, even thought that’s how I’ve been for the past year (and Switch). I hope put the whole Zenimax catalogue in the PC game pass, that would be really great, even though I already own most of the games they offer already. Bold moves Microsoft, just don’t drop the ball. You now own beloved franchises that if you fuck up, people will be really pissed about, kind of like what you’re doing with Halo. So please, leave these studios alone and let them do their thing.