In September 2020, Microsoft announced that it would be acquiring ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion, putting Bethesda Softworks, Arkane Studios, iD Software, and a number of other heavy hitters in game development under the Microsoft umbrella.
The deal is Microsoft’s priciest video game-related acquisition to date, but it won’t be official until approved by the executive arm of the European Union’s European Commission, which oversees the EU’s policies on competition. Microsoft filed for approval of the ZeniMax purchase at the end of January, and the case has a provisional deadline of March 5, 2021. However, according to a Twitter post by Xbox News, approval is expected to take place within five days.
In the meantime, a new document posted on a website that provides access to laws and legislation passed in the European Union, has revealed that Microsoft is taking an unexpected step with the ZeniMax acquisition. Microsoft will create a new wholly owned subsidiary called Vault, which will merge “with and into” ZeniMax. Microsoft will then acquire Bethesda through Vault, which will become Bethesda’s parent company.
This means that ZeniMax and Bethesda will legally become part of a new company, Vault, rather than being directly connected to Microsoft. Vault will still be fully and solely controlled by Microsoft, however. This is similar to how Take-Two Interactive owns and operates three separate publishing companies—Rockstar Games, 2K, and Private Division—each with their own specialties and focus.
In October, Phil Spencer, the current Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft, shared that the company’s acquisition of ZeniMax and the numerous studios associated with it will not be the last. Microsoft plans to acquire additional studios in order to continue the growth of Xbox Game Pass, whose long-term sustainability depends on a steady stream of new content.
Since the ZeniMax acquisition, there has been a lot of speculation about which studios Microsoft might purchase next. It is rumored that the company will make another Bethesda-level acquisition sometime this year. A Microsoft insider recently revealed that the company had reportedly considered and passed on acquiring Borderlands developer Gearbox Software which is now with the Embracer Group. Rumors have also surfaced that Microsoft has its eyes on Bungie, the developer behind the Destiny franchise, and even several Japanese studios like Sega.
Phil Spencer has made it clear that the latter rumor is false. According to a Twitter post, the real reason Spencer headed to Japan and met with developers in January was to discuss the Xbox Series X, Xbox Game Pass, Project xCloud, and the future of gaming in general.
Source: PlayStation Universe