The biggest gaming industry story of 2021 has to be the announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda for seven and a half billion dollars in cash, which took pretty much everyone by surprise when it went live on September 21st, 2020.
Of course, the deal is still going through the regulatory phases, but in a recent video interview with Major Nelson’s podcast (episode 728), Microsoft’s head of Gaming Phil Spencer provided an update stating that everything is on track to be completed this year. Spencer also said he’s very excited about the deal, as for example the RPG capability of Xbox Game Studios will be massive then.
When it came time when they were looking at potentially becoming part of a bigger company, getting sold, I was glad that we were part of the conversation that they were willing to have and it really means something to me that they would sign up to become part of Xbox.
2021 is when we’ll get final approval, I feel really good about that, everything is on track. We’ll start then really getting some of the planning that we can do with them, right now we’re very hands off as they continue to do the work that they’re doing as we don’t own them yet.
The other thing I’ll just say is the commitment that the company, Microsoft, has given us when we rolled the idea into CEO Satya Nadella and CFO Amy Hood, when we went and said ‘We have this idea…’ Our business is doing well, we’re running a profitable, growing business. They have a lot of belief [in Xbox].
I mean, just the fact that we would go through an acquisition of this size. That Monday we were announcing I couldn’t sleep on Sunday night, I was nervous, I was anxious, I was excited, I had all the emotions. Then we we kept it quiet, it was so cool to see the reactions from Xbox fans and probably more importantly to me now the Bethesda teams, because those teams will be very, very critical to our progress going forward.
Exciting, exciting news. I can’t wait to get it closed so we can start working like one company. I’m incredibly excited about Starfield and a lot of the other things, some announced and some unannounced, that they’re working on.
I just think that they’ll be an incredible addition to our studios. When I think about our RPG capabilities with Obsidian, inXile, with that Playgrounds is doing, with what Bethesda can do, it’s a massive capability. And also for FPS capability, with id Software and 343….It just doubles the size of our first party studios when Bethesda joins. I’m excited about 2021 and Bethesda is an incredibly important part of that.
Next year, Bethesda will release Deathloop (recently pinned for a May 21st date) and Ghostwire Tokyo from Arkane Studios and Tango GameWorks, though ironically these two games won’t be available on Xbox at first because of a prior timed console exclusivity deal with Sony.
That said, the biggest new title coming from Bethesda in 2021 should be Starfield. It’s going to be the first new IP made by BGS in twenty-five years, featuring a brand new Sci-Fi setting and the biggest overhaul of the Creation Engine yet. To be clear, Bethesda did not fully commit to releasing Starfield this year, but their three-year development cadence and recent rumors suggest the game will be available in the upcoming Fall season.