Microsoft acquisition could reinvigorate Bethesda

Bethesda Softworks has made and published some of the greatest video games in the history of the medium. Many of us have grown up on classics like “The Elder Scrolls,” “Fallout,” and other fanatic franchises that earned the company its reputation as one of the biggest in gaming. Despite the games being somewhat buggy at release, Bethesda had an excellent standing with its dedicated fans and communities.

They were riding high and doing everything right, until they inexplicably steered off a cliff and created the irradiated abomination that was “Fallout 76”. We all know how that went, but for those who do not, imagine ordering a sundae and getting stabbed instead.

This raised suspicions from fans that Bethesda director Todd Howard had succumbed to the dark side. Since then, the series of unremarkable games they have released, with the notable exception of “Doom Eternal,” only seems to confirm this theory.

All in all, it has been a rough ride for Bethesda as they continue to alienate themselves from their fans and adopt a steady stream of bad business practices. But hope may be on the horizon for warriors and wastelanders alike as a new challenger appears—a challenger named Microsoft.

On Sept. 21, 2020, Microsoft announced that it had acquired ZeniMax, Bethesda’s parent company, for a whopping $7.5 billion. As the new generation of consoles approaches and the next console war begins, this acquisition has only affirmed Microsoft’s large stake in the gaming landscape. As a result, many wonder what this means for Bethesda. If Microsoft’s latest track record is any indication, hopefully the acquisition will be a positive step for Bethesda.

Microsoft, much like Bethesda, is a business. However, they also happen to be one of the most consumer and user-friendly companies in the industry. Personally, I am quite impressed with how they’ve managed to turn themselves around since the underwhelming early days of the Xbox One.

For starters, I have loved all of Microsoft’s recent first-party titles. Thanks to these games and the development studios working on them, Microsoft has finally managed to bring a steady stream of quality, user, and consumer-friendly first-party titles back to the forefront of their lineup. If this same level of quality and consumer-friendliness can be applied to Bethesda and its studios, we could be in for some fantastic games in the next few years.

All of this alone sounds great, but the acquisition does not just mean fans will be getting their hands on some potentially fantastic new games. It also means that old ones will be accessible at a much lower price. Recently, Microsoft has reaffirmed its dedication to consumer-friendly business practices through its Xbox Game Pass subscription service.

While many third-party gaming companies have confirmed they will be raising prices from $60 to $70 for their new games, Microsoft’s price for new games is only $10. By offering an ever-expanding variety of classic and brand-new titles for both PC and console, the service was already a force to be reckoned with.

In addition to all the great content the service has, all the major Bethesda titles will be included as well. Users can sign up for one month up front, play whatever they like, and then just cancel before the month is up, effectively allowing them to play hundreds of dollars’ worth of games for only $10. By adding all of Bethesda’s games to their library, Microsoft can help sell the service further and cement it as a prime consumer and user-friendly way to play games at a reasonable price.

When the acquisition was first announced, one of the most significant topics of discussion was exclusivity. Bethesda games have always been available on PCs and both Xbox and Playstation consoles as a third-party company. With Microsoft owning Xbox and the new console war coming up, the question on everyone’s minds was whether or not Bethesda games would transition to PC and Xbox-only titles.

Thankfully, Microsoft confirmed that the platforms these games release on would be a case-by-case basis. So it seems that those worries have been quelled, for now, at least.

Overall, I am usually not one for corporate acquisitions and oversight, but Bethesda has been continuously shooting themselves in the foot these past few years. Microsoft, however, has had a pretty great attitude and track record as of late, so perhaps some new oversight is just what Bethesda needs. I’m not saying it will be perfect, and there is plenty to keep an eye on, but I see this as an opportunity for Bethesda to learn from their mistakes and rise once again.