Microsoft Tops $2.5B Mojang Deal with $7.5B ZeniMax Buy

Microsoft on Monday announced its intent to acquire games maker ZeniMax, owner of Bethesda Softworks, for $7.5 billion in cash.

Microsoft's last big game developer acquisition happened six years ago with the purchase of Mojang, the maker of the block-like Minecraft game, for $2.5 billion. That deal was notable at the time for being one of Microsoft's biggest purchases. However, the proposed ZeniMax deal now appears to be the largest, as least in terms of Microsoft's games studio acquisitions.

The ZeniMax deal includes Bethesda and other game-maker affiliates such as "id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog and Roundhouse Studios," according to Microsoft. Popular PC and console games produced by ZeniMax companies include "The Elder ScrollsFalloutDOOMQuakeWolfenstein, and Dishonored."

About 2,300 employees currently are part of ZeniMax. It grew from just a "handful of people" about 21 years ago, according to Pete Hines, senior vice president of PR and marketing at Bethesda, in a Bethesda announcement.

Microsoft already has a games software development arm, with 15 creative studios. The acquisition of ZeniMax is expected to grow that number to about 23 studios. Microsoft is planning to add Bethesda games to its Xbox Game Pass subscription service on the "same day they launch on Xbox or PC."

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described the success of Bethesda, and support for Xbox, as reasons for the deal.

"Quality differentiated content is the engine behind the growth and value of Xbox Game Pass -- from Minecraft to Flight Simulator," Nadella said in a released statement. "As a proven game developer and publisher, Bethesda has seen success across every category of games, and together, we will further our ambition to empower the more than three billion gamers worldwide."

Bethesda has been a longtime Microsoft partner. It started out working on PC games development, but then shifted to develop games for consoles, including Microsoft's Xbox, explained Todd Howard, director and executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios, in an announcement.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of next year, after typical regulatory reviews, per Microsoft's announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.