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Xbox buys Bethesda parent ZeniMax for $7.5bn

Update: Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo exclusivity agreements to be honored, future releases to be decided on a case-by-case basis

Microsoft has announced the surprise acquisition of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks.

The deal cost $7.5 billion and expands the number of development studios Microsoft owns from 15 to 23.

It also adds 2,300 employees and some significant games IP to Xbox's portfolio.

Among Bethesda's internal development teams were Bethesda Game Studios -- responsible for Elder Scrolls and Fallout -- as well as Doom developer id Software, Dishonored creator Arkane, Wolfenstein dev Machine Games, The Evil Within team Tango Gameworks, ZeniMax Online Studios, Alpha Dog and Roundhouse Studios.

Other IP now under Microsoft's ownership includes Prey, Rage, and upcoming new properties such as Deathloop and Starfield.

In a blog post, head of Xbox Phil Spencer said the company's franchises will be coming to Xbox Game Pass.

The company has since clarified this means all future releases -- such as The Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield -- will be available via Game Pass from launch.

In a separate post by Bethesda's vice president of PR and marketing Pete Hines, the newly-acquired company said it will still be publishing its own games -- perhaps suggesting some of its games may still come to non-Microsoft systems.

GamesIndustry.biz has contacted Bethesda and Xbox for more information.

Over the last few years, Xbox has acquired several high-profile studios, starting with Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Compulsion Games and Undead Labs, later adding Obsidian Entertainment and inXile, and last year purchasing Double Fine.

Update: Phil Spencer has told Bloomberg journalist Dina Bass that Xbox would honor the exclusivity commitments for Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo for PS5.

Spencer went on to say that future Bethesda titles would release on Xbox, PC, and "other consoles on a case by case basis."

Additional reporting by Rebekah Valentine.

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