The biggest game industry history in 2021 must be the announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda for seven and a half billion dollars in cash, which surprised pretty much everyone when it was put into operation on September 21, 2020.
Of course, the deal is still going through the regulatory phases, but in a recent video interview with Major Nelson’s podcast (episode 728), Microsoft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer gave an update that everything is about to be completed this year. Spencer also said he is very excited about the deal, for example, the RPG capability of Xbox Game Studios will be massive then.
When it was time for them to potentially become part of a larger company, to be sold, I was glad we were part of the conversation they were willing to have, and it really means something to me that they would sign up to be part of the Xbox.
2021 is when we get final approval, I feel very good about it, everything is on the right track. We then start to really get some of the planning we can do with them, right now we are very free when they continue to do the job they do, as we do not own them yet.
The other thing I just want to say is the commitment that the company, Microsoft, has given us when we rolled the idea into CEO Satya Nadella and CFO Amy Hood, when we went and said ‘We have this idea …’ Our business does it well, we run a profitable, growing business. They have a lot of faith [in Xbox].
I mean, just the fact that we would undergo a procurement of this size. That Monday we announced that I could not sleep on Sunday night, I was nervous, I was anxious, I was excited, I had all the emotions. So we kept quiet, it was so cool to see the reactions from Xbox fans and probably even more important to me now the Bethesda teams, because these teams will be very, very critical of our progress going forward.
Exciting, exciting news. I look forward to having it closed so we can start working as one company. I’m incredibly excited about Starfield and many other things, some announced and others unannounced, that they are working on.
I just think they will be an incredible addition to our studios. When I think of our RPG capabilities with Obsidian, inXile, with what Playgrounds does, with what Bethesda can do, it’s a huge ability. And also for FPS functionality, with id Software and 343 …. It only doubles the size of our first party studios when Bethesda joins. I’m excited about 2021 and Bethesda is an incredibly important part of that.
Next year, Bethesda will release Deathloop (recently released for a May 21 date) and Ghostwire Tokyo from Arkane Studios and Tango GameWorks, but ironically, these two games will not be available on Xbox first due to a previously timed console exclusivity agreement with Sony.
That said, the biggest new title from Bethesda in 2021 should be Starfield. It will be the first new IP made by BGS in twenty-five years, with a brand new Sci-Fi setting and the biggest overhaul of Creation Engine yet. To be clear, Bethesda did not commit to releasing Starfield this year, but their three-year developmental cadence and recent rumors suggest that the game will be available in the coming fall season.