KEY POINTS

  • The acquisition of ZeniMax Media does not mean that Microsoft is done with game developers
  • Microsoft currently has 23 first-party game development studios under its auspices
  • No games from Xbox's usually reliable franchises will be launching with the Xbox Series X

After Microsoft acquired Bethesda Game Studios parent company ZeniMax Media for $7 billion, Microsoft now has an astounding 23 first-party game development studios under its umbrella. One of the questions that has emerged is, “Is Microsoft done gobbling up these developers?”

In an interview with CNET, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella shared that the company might not be done quite yet.

"You can't wake up one day and say, 'Let me build a game studio,'" Nadella said. "The idea of having content is so we can reach larger communities."

Nadella presided over the acquisition of “Minecraft” maker Mojang Studios in 2014 and has hardly stopped since.

He also led the acquisition of five more studios in 2018, including role-playing game maker Obsidian, known for the space adventure “The Outer Worlds” and “South Park: The Stick of Truth.” In 2019, the company bought Double Fine, maker of adventure game “Psychonauts.”

This is why Microsoft will consider buying even more video game companies in the future, he said, and why it continues to invest in its Xbox Game Pass subscription service.

"Content is just the incredible ingredient to our platform that we continue to invest in," Xbox head Phil Spencer said in that same interview. "This doubles the size of our creative organization."

As Microsoft continues to build the Xbox brand, the studios Microsoft has purchased mark one of the most dramatic ways that the company is doing so, while also giving the company more games to field in a hits-driven business.

Looking at rival Sony, some of their biggest hits have been first-party titles in the form of the post-apocalyptic thriller “The Last of Us,” treasure hunting adventure “Uncharted,” and action series “God of War.” “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” is headlining the launch of the PlayStation 5 on Nov. 12.

Meanwhile, none of the usual reliable franchises in Xbox’s catalog will be available for the Nov. 12 launch of the Xbox Series X. No “Halo,” no “Gears of War,” no “Forza” either.

Gamers will see a noticeable difference with Bethesda Game Studios, Spencer said in the interview, noting that the company's games will be offered on Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass subscription service at the same time they hit store shelves.

The games will also be available through Microsoft's xCloud video game streaming service, which allows people to play games over the internet similar to the way they stream movies from Netflix. 

Since Spencer noted that Bethesda will run semi-independently because of their culture, Nadella noted that it is the same reason why game companies will continue to attract Microsoft’s attention.

"We'll always look for places where there is that commonality of purpose, mission, and culture," Nadella said. In fact, the Xbox team has worked with ZeniMax companies including Bethesda since the first Xbox was released in 2001. "We will always look to grow inorganically where it makes sense."

Some say the next Xbox will be 'the most powerful console ever' Some say the next Xbox will be 'the most powerful console ever' Photo: AFP / ROBYN BECK