It’s one of the most notable video game acquisitions in Microsoft’s history. The company bought Mojang, the studio behind Minecraft, for $ 2.5 billion in late 2014. That proved to be a boon to the firm as Minecraft surged in popularity, rapidly becoming one of the best-selling games in the world thanks to its simple design and gameplay.
The acquisition gives Microsoft access to a raft of successful game franchises, including the role-playing game series Fallout and The Elder Scrolls and the Doom shooter franchise.
“Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialize and play with their friends,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said.
“With the addition of Bethesda, Microsoft will grow from 15 to 23 creative studio teams and will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass,” Microsoft said. “This includes Microsoft’s intent to bring Bethesda’s future games into Xbox Game Pass the same day they launch on Xbox or PC.”
Microsoft’s Xbox unit is betting heavily on subscriptions this year. Its Xbox Game Pass platform gives players access to dozens of games and the firm recently included a so-called cloud gaming feature that lets users play games on their phone or tablet. Microsoft said it aims to bring Bethesda’s upcoming space-themed game Starfield to Xbox Game Pass on the day of launch.
Microsoft is also selling its new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles — which will go head-to-head with Sony’s PlayStation 5 next month — via point-of-sale financing plans to spread the cost over monthly installments. Preorders for both systems start on Tuesday.
The deal comes at a time when interest in video games has surged thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Demand for gaming exploded as countries went into lockdown earlier this year, and companies in the sector have reported rising profits and revenues as a result.