Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax Media approved by EU, Bethesda closer to being Xbox first-party

Xbox Bethesda Game Studios
Xbox Bethesda Game Studios (Image credit: Bethesda)

Xbox Bethesda Image

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • In September 2020, Microsoft announced that it was acquiring ZeniMax Media.
  • Due to the scale of the acquisition, it must be approved by multiple regulators.
  • It's been approved by the EU, cementing an important step in finalizing the acquisition.

Microsoft's deal to acquire ZeniMax Media looks poised to move forward following approval from the EU. The European Commission was set to approve the deal by March 5, a standard regulatory procedure with major acquisitions. Now, it looks set to pass without any issues or concerns.

The European Commission published its decision around the merger on Monday, stating it "does not raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market." The EU "shall decide not to oppose it and shall declare that it is compatible with the common market," leaving the deal set to move ahead over the weeks ahead.

Microsoft ZeniMax European Commission Case

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The acquisition recently received the green light from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), relieving one extra hurdle toward completion. Once the deal is finalized, it's safe to expect Microsoft will talk more about what Bethesda brings to Xbox, as well as answering the question of title exclusivity. Microsoft has already confirmed that all of Bethesda's upcoming titles like Starfield will launch day and date in Xbox Game Pass, which has reached over 18 million subscribers.

Even when the deal goes through, this may not be the end of Microsoft's recent purchasing spree, as CEO Satya Nadella previously confirmed that Microsoft will be looking to acquire more gaming companies as time goes on.

Xbox Series X/S


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.

  • I still don't think it makes sense to bring the likes of Elders Scrolls VI or Starfield to PS5. As Phil said, they can 'recoup their $7.5B investment without the need of bringing those games to PlayStation'; if the long term goal of the investment was to grow Game Pass and sell their consoles, I don't see how putting the games on a rival console will help with that.
  • The only possible reason they would do it, is if Sony or Nintendo gave one of their first party exclusives to Xbox in exchange for cross-release of a Bethesda game. Otherwise there is no tangible long term benefit; and Microsoft is a long term thinking company.
  • Or if they time-delay the games and make sure the XBOX versions use all the SeriesX power.
    MS has been known to do cross platform before.
    But if Sony truly want to play more takeaway...
  • @Kreyd in short it's a mixed bag, as 1)the aquisition do need to make money 2)gamepass needs to content to make money; so most likely we are going to see timed exclusives and exclusive features on the Series X compared to the PS5. Most importantly, any mmorpg online tie-ins will require cross platform sales to bolster the user base. As with mmorpgs, there is an additional revenue point - cosmetic items purchased by real world currency. Therefore the larger the userbase the higher net opportunities for monetization.
  • Gamepass is a no-brainer right now and really a no-brainer with this deal in play. I don't think MS has to limit itself to the Xbox market with these titles, they can go PS5 if they want as the best deal/bang for the buck is on Xbox/PC. In fact it may help with goodwill in future for other studios to be cross platform and opt in to game pass for extending theire shelf-life/market
  • I want to like GamePass, but unless it's just my ignorance (always possible), I don't believe there's any cost-effective option to share it with a family, where each person has his or her own Xbox. These have been handed down as the new tech came out, so we have a Series X, One X, and One and 3 family members who would need membership. There's no way I'm paying for 3 GamePass subscriptions, but I'd pay for 1 in a heartbeat if I could share it with my kids and it included Live Gold for multiplayer between us. I'd even be willing to pay more than the current cost of a single GamePass Ultimate, just not price of 2 or 3.
  • Pretty sure you can share your membership with 1 other Xbox which is set to your Home. Can't confirm it myself anymore but I know you use to be able to. The only problem that I remember was, The account that hasn't got the membership doesn't get to see the Gamepass Library but if you search for a game that you know that is in the library on the store. You will be able to download the game from there.