European Commission to rule on Microsoft acquiring ZeniMax Media by March 5

Xbox Bethesda Image
Xbox Bethesda Image (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • In September 2020, Microsoft announced it intended to acquire ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks.
  • This kind of acquisition takes time, with multiple government agencies checking and approving everything.
  • The European Commission is set to grant its decision by March 5.

The European Commission is set to make a decision on Microsoft acquiring ZeniMax Media by March 5, a new report shows. Per the filing, the listing was first filed on January 29, with the council committing to grant a decision by March 5.

Compared to many other acquisitions that are checked, this span of just a few weeks until a decision is actually a very short amount of time. One large company being acquired by another is a process that takes a fair bit of time, with regulatory review from multiple agencies across different countries. There's still other regulations that have to be filed and things that need to be checked but this is an important step for Microsoft to take in ZeniMax Media as part of its gaming business.

ZeniMax Media is the parent company Bethesda Softworks, which operates eight game distinct game development studios responsible for franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, Dishonored and many more. Xbox Game Studios consists of 15 game development studios and with the addition of Bethesda Softworks, Xbox first-party will grow to 23 studios. All of Bethesda's games will launch in Xbox Game Pass at release, which has grown to over 18 million subscribers.

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Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.

  • Considering the size of the overall gaming software market and the many companies bigger than Bethesda and MGS there is no reason to deny it. Plus the merger is for enabling growth, not consolidation (more jobs, not less) so it should be a one week analylis at most.
    Plenty of big fish in that expanding ocean.
  • The problem is not on a global scale. It's more about what it means for the studios in Europe, will jobs be lost created etc and then what it means for the countries inside Europe... Will one country have more studios than others under one company etc...
    The point being keeping the field leveled inside Europe between countries and preventing jobs to leave Europe....
    But it shouldn't be an issue...
  • @JMV83 That shouldn't be a problem for the foreseeable future as no company is going to have a mass migration of jobs during the ongoing pandemic. Secondly, the regulators can place conditions on the approval to ensure a level playing field - i.e. keeping studios in Europe.
  • Yup, if they are concerned, the EU can easily just say "we want it in writing you keep these European studios open" or whatnot. Five weeks is not a long lead time, there's essentially no reason to believe this won't go through.
  • I don’t believe the EU can insist on remedies. Only deny the merger based on anti trust factors such as market dominance. Unlikely to be the case here, seems like a rubber stamping exercise.