New York | Less than three weeks before the launch of its new Xbox console, Microsoft has sent a strong message to its main rival Sony by buying ZeniMax, the parent company of the publisher of the hit series “The Elder Scrolls” for 7.5 billion dollars. “And” Fallout “.
With this acquisition supposed to be finalized in mid-2021, the biggest ever made by Microsoft in the video game sector, the Redmond giant (Washington, northwest) intends to position itself against the Japanese group, which is preparing to him also to market its PlayStation 5 in November.
Founded in 1986, Bethesda Softworks, ZeniMax's main subsidiary, is one of the world's largest private video game developers. In addition to the development of “The Elder Scrolls” and “Fallout”, she notably publishes the shooting titles “Doom” and “Dishonored”.
The acquisition of this company “brings to the Xbox an impressive portfolio of games, technologies and talents as well as a list of great commercial successes,” Microsoft said in a statement.
Its goal is to “give even more resources to more than three billion video game players around the world,” said Microsoft boss Satya Nadella.
Catching up with Sony
On November 10, Microsoft is due to launch the Xbox Series X, its next-generation console that will sell for $ 499. A smaller version, the Xbox Series S, will be available for $ 299.
The American group hopes to catch up with Sony, which has sold twice as many PlayStation 4, the model currently on sale, than Xbox One.
Microsoft also intends to generate significant income thanks to a lucrative sector, whose pace of development has further accelerated thanks to containment.
“The cultural phenomenon of video games makes it the largest and fastest growing form of entertainment in the world,” Microsoft said.
The video game industry “is expected to generate more than $ 200 billion in annual revenue in 2021,” added the computer giant.
For his part, Bethesda boss Robert Altman said the deal with Microsoft is “a natural progression after several years of collaboration. ”
On the CNBC channel, Xbox boss Phil Spencer assured that ZeniMax would continue to operate independently, suggesting that there would be no cuts in the workforce of 2,300 company employees.
On Wall Street, Microsoft's action did not really benefit from this announcement and fell 0.3% at mid-session.
Calibrated for the “cloud”
For several experts, the acquisition of ZeniMax should give a boost to the already massive presence of Microsoft in the field of video games designed for the “cloud” (remote computing), which come in the form of software. instead of being stored directly on the device.
Thanks to this operation, the American group “strengthens its position in the online video game market, because they (ZeniMax and Bethesda, note) offer competitive products that can be added to + Game Pass + subscriptions and capable of repelling attacks from Sony, ”wrote in a note Anurag Rana and Gili Naftalovich, analysts for Bloomberg Intelligence.
Cloud Gaming, Microsoft's cloud-based gaming platform, went live last week for subscribers of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Xbox's subscription-based game library (on console or PC).
The buyout of Bethesda also allows Microsoft to add 8 new video game creation teams to its studios.
The developer's next flagship titles, including the sci-fi game Starfield, will be able to appear from the day of their launch on Xbox Game Pass.
“If the Xbox and the video game have been successful, Microsoft is aware of the need to increase its revenues from its customers, which we believe this agreement should encourage,” said in a note Daniel Ives of the investment company Wedbush Securities.