Microsoft is on the cusp of opening pre-orders for the Xbox Series X after it was beaten to the punch by the PS5, which will launch a few days later in November, but went live with pre-orders last week, immediately after revealing the price and launch date of the console.
The buzz around Sony's next-gen hardware took some of the wind out of Microsoft's sails, but Xbox boss Phil Spencer's announcement today has spirited up a veritable gale that will have an impact for years to come.
In a new Xbox Wire blog post, Phil Spencer dropped the bombshell that has the industry reeling: Microsoft is acquiring Bethesda Softworks' parent company, ZeniMax Media.
All of Bethesda's most iconic IPs will be coming to Xbox Game Pass for console and PC as a result, including franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Dishonored, Prey, Quake, and the upcoming sci-fi RPG Starfield, that's still in development.
The deal sees Microsoft splashing out $7.5 billion in cash, and – given the company's lack of exclusives for the Xbox – a much-needed leg-up on the software front, now that it has a stable of hugely popular titles at its disposal, like The Elder Scrolls 6.
Bethesda also released a statement with Pete Hines saying:
"...the key point is we’re still Bethesda. We’re still working on the same games we were yesterday, made by the same studios we’ve worked with for years, and those games will be published by us."
Microsoft's approach has very much been about bringing players together, and not restricting the games they can play by platform, so it'll be interesting to see if it does a U-turn on its sentiment in order to reap the benefits of the acquisition.