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Microsoft Looking to Make Another Bethesda-Level Acquisition in 2021, According to Rumor

Microsoft Looking to Make Another Bethesda-Level Acquisition in 2021, According to Rumor - News

by William D'Angelo , posted on 02 August 2021 / 6,762 Views

Microsoft announced in September 2020 it would be acquiring Bethesda parent company ZeniMax for $7.5 billion. This is one of the biggest acquisitions in video game history. 

There is a new rumor that Microsoft isn't done with growing Xbox Game Studios and is looking to make another acquisition that will be a similar size to ZeniMax.

Video game industry insider Xbox Ragnar is backing this new rumor, who said Microsoft was purchasing a big gaming studio a few weeks before the ZeniMax acquisition became public. Xbox Rangar believes the announcement of this next big acquisition will happen at the end of 2021 or at the beginning of 2022. 

Microsoft looking to grow its Netflix-like service, Xbox Game Pass, it isn't a surprise the company is looking to keep growing Xbox Game Studios. Microsoft's gaming division for the quarter ending December 31, 2020 was the first time ever it reached $5 billion in revenue. 

Thanks, GameRant.


A life-long and avid gamer, William D'Angelo was first introduced to VGChartz in 2007. After years of supporting the site, he was brought on in 2010 as a junior analyst, working his way up to lead analyst in 2012. He has expanded his involvement in the gaming community by producing content on his own YouTube channel and Twitch channel dedicated to gaming Let's Plays and tutorials. You can contact the author at wdangelo@vgchartz.com or on Twitter @TrunksWD.


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74 Comments
shikamaru317 (on 28 January 2021)

Publishers in a similar price range to what MS paid for Zenimax would be Ubisoft, Square Enix, Koei Tecmo, Capcom, Sega, Konami, and Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment. Ubisoft fended off a take-over attempt from Vivendi just a few years ago so it seems they don't want to be bought. That basically leaves WB and the JP publishers.

AT&T was considering selling WB Interactive last summer, and supposedly had discussions with MS (among others), but decided against selling them, figuring they could make more money in the long run by keeping WB Interactive and releasing live service games. Maybe acquisition talks have resumed with MS. But I'm not sure if MS would be willing to buy WB Interactive, as AT&T supposedly wanted to sell just the studios for several billion dollars and keep all of the big IP's like DC, Harry Potter, LOTR, Lego, and Mortal Kombat, charging extra to license out those IP's instead. Not a great deal for MS to pay billions for just studios, then pay billions more for limited time IP licenses.

So I'm guessing it might be Sega. Not only are they the least expensive out of all of the above publishers, but I suspect they would be more open to an acquisition by MS than the other JP publishers, they've been pretty buddy-buddy with MS recently, what with the Yakuza day one gamepass releases and Sega talking about how successful Yakuza has been on Xbox in their investor calls and such.

  • +19
Cerebralbore101 shikamaru317 (on 28 January 2021)
  • -15
Machina shikamaru317 (on 29 January 2021)

Probably controversial to say this but WB's IP list looks pretty mediocre. The wider media franchises associated with a lot of them have a tonne of potential but WB has very few great games in the last 10 years or so that deliver on said potential. And if they're not looking to sell the IPs, just the studios, then... lol.

  • +7
shikamaru317 Machina (on 29 January 2021)

Mortal Kombat and Lego do well, and the Middle Earth Shadow of games were fairly successful. DC has been kind of meh this gen, but Batman Arkham was doing well in gen 7. As for Harry Potter, it has been largely untapped by WB, EA had the license back when the movies were releasing and they released those mediocre adaptations of each movie, but WB has barely touched it until recently. We'll have to wait and see how WB's new AAA Harry Potter game turns out, looks promising so far at least.

But yeah, what AT&T was reportedly asking several billion for, just the studios, was a pretty bad deal imo. If AT&T was willing to sell both the studios and the game rights to all of those IP's permanently for around what MS paid for Zenimax, $7.5b, then WB Interactive would be a good buy for MS, but as things stand, MS would be better off looking elsewhere.

  • +9
Doctor_MG shikamaru317 (on 29 January 2021)

What about Take Two? Aren't they in trouble with a hostile take over from Tencent?

However, Sega I could see. The OG Xbox felt like a sequel to the Dreamcast, and had a lot of Sega exclusives it'd be a way to increase japanese presence.

  • +1
shikamaru317 Doctor_MG (on 29 January 2021)

Thing is, this leaker says it's a similar size acquisition to Zenimax, which was $7.5b. Take-Two is currently worth about $23b, and if MS gets into a bidding war with Tencent that price would only go up. I don't think Take-Two is what the leaker is talking about.

  • +3
Matsku shikamaru317 (on 29 January 2021)

Spencer did say last year he wasn't aware of Xbox being in talks to acquire a Japanese developer though that could mean Microsoft is doing the talking or he could also have been full of crap, though I still feel the next Microsoft acquisition will be a western dev again. There's also that law in Japan which makes a western acquisition of a Japanese company hard.

  • 0
Pemalite Matsku (on 29 January 2021)

To be fair, Microsoft said there wasn't a Halo 2: Anniversary once...
Don't take to much stock in old statements.

  • +3
VAMatt Matsku (on 29 January 2021)

Talks start when they talk. Some deals take a long time to consumate, some don't. A company the size of Microsoft, if it so desires, can buy any publisher on planet earth within a couple of days. They wouldn't likely do something like that, because they're not going to throw money around foolishly. But, if they wanted to make a big enough offer to guarantee a "yes" right away, they certainly have the ability to do so. They can't close the sale/purchase of a public company that quickly, but they certainly can get the board to say yes.

  • +5
SecondWar shikamaru317 (on 29 January 2021)

Sega could also help Microsoft break more ground in Japan.

  • 0
Hirox SecondWar (on 02 February 2021)

that...
For non-Nintendo Japanese publishers, Japan console market has been shrinking YoY, for the past decade (that's why they have to release games that they think that might have some global appeal on PC for China, and on Xbox for the foreigner markets). Even Sony has withdrawn from Japan.

  • 0
Mr Puggsly (on 29 January 2021)

It seems to me if MS wants to broaden its appeal and add more diverse content on Gamepass, then Capcom, Sega or Square Enix is the way to go. Any western publisher wouldn't really amaze people unless it was something crazy like Valve.

  • +6
shikamaru317 Mr Puggsly (on 29 January 2021)

Maybe the Valve of 15 years ago would impress, but Valve has released so few games recently I'm not sure how much that acquisition would impress people. If MS were to acquire Valve, I think it would mainly be for Steam, rather than their game development.

  • +3
Mr Puggsly shikamaru317 (on 29 January 2021)

Well they would get the IPs, which would be im their interest to continue. And ofcourse getting Steam would be even more significant. Then they could keep all the money their software sells there.

  • 0
Azzanation (on 29 January 2021)

Cant see MS buying any major publisher except Sega as it makes sense since the Xbox is a Spiritual successor to Sega and Sega have some PC games like the Total War series and Sega also own brands like Relic who are making Age of Empires 4 etc. Plus its upside is MS can re-brand the Xbox to Sega in Asia while accumulating some Asian IPs like Persona and Yukaza.

  • +4
Ayla (on 29 January 2021)

Sega makes the most sense.

  • +2
Wman1996 Ayla (on 31 January 2021)

That would certainly help Microsoft's revenue in Japan, though Xbox would still less than PlayStation there.

  • 0
VAMatt (on 29 January 2021)

I think the best content for growing Gamepass would come with a acquisition of EA, though that would be on a much higher price level than Zenimax. Those sports franchises are exactly what they need to bring in more casual gamers to the service, and those people are ones that could become more hardcore gamers when they have access to the games without extra cost. Also, MS could reduce the development and distribution cost of those sports franchises by simply continuously updating them, rather than releasing new games every years.

  • +2
Libara (on 29 January 2021)

I will believe it when I see it, Zenimax deal isnt even finished yet, I have no doubt they are consistently looking for studios to aquire but something as big as Zenimax deal? Would be a pleasant surprise but not holding my breath.

  • +2
Tridrakious (on 30 January 2021)

This is not good for the industry.

  • +1
sales2099 Tridrakious (on 01 February 2021)

Sure it is. Sony is the one to beat and this is how Xbox is competing,

  • -1
Tridrakious sales2099 (on 03 February 2021)

This isn't "competing". It's monopolistic.

  • 0
sales2099 Tridrakious (on 10 February 2021)

Tell that to PlayStations marketshare

  • 0
Tridrakious sales2099 (on 12 February 2021)

Sony isn't trying to buy up all the third party developers and publishers. They have done acquisitions in the past, but they were working with Sony in a second party capacity.

  • 0
sales2099 Tridrakious (on 13 February 2021)

And yet they stifle competition every gen (minus Ps3)

  • 0
Tridrakious sales2099 (on 14 February 2021)

How do they "stifle" competition?

  • 0
LivncA_Dis3 (on 29 January 2021)

Jeez microsoft does have munney to splurge,
Hopefully they pick up a decent company this time,

Me when they purchase a company I love: What the fck?!

  • +1
TheTitaniumNub (on 29 January 2021)

Oh boy! This will be crazy! Could it be Sega like some of those old rumors suggested? I guess we will find out soon enough.

  • +1
method114 (on 29 January 2021)

Don't really care my PC is ready. PCPS5 I'm in gamer heaven.

  • +1
TheTitaniumNub method114 (on 29 January 2021)

PCSWITCH i am also in gamer heaven.

  • +1
method114 TheTitaniumNub (on 29 January 2021)

Ah the switch was nice. I had to give it up though. Gaming so much at home and then on the road was to much. Thankfully I sold when they were hard to get so I got most of my money back.

  • +1
Doctor_MG (on 29 January 2021)

Look, I hope Xbox succeeds, but buying out all of these big publishers is not the way I would like it to happen. The smaller developers they purchased were great. Talented teams hindered by dev costs. Bethesda was a wildcard...but if we are talking take two...well...I just hope MS doesn't want to keep everything exclusive.

  • +1
dx11332sega Doctor_MG (on 29 January 2021)

Taketwo is not in trouble I think? And they wanted to buy a huge Publisher in codemasters, I think take two is ok .Will always be Safe hoping tencent doesn't acquire them. Then I'd think anyone even taketwo that had no trouble can be acquired then thatt's messy I guess?

  • 0
SanAndreasX Doctor_MG (on 29 January 2021)

I heard that Tencent was more interested in Korean companies right now.

  • 0
dx11332sega SanAndreasX (on 29 January 2021)

That would be better, Tbh, Sony I think has square on lock and square made ff16 to PS5 for a year , Square really likes Sony , As for Tencent hope they make small purchases like what THQ nordic is doing.

  • 0
DirtyP2002 dx11332sega (on 31 January 2021)

Bethesda made 2 games PS5 timed exclusive and look how that turned out...

  • +1
DirtyP2002 (on 31 January 2021)

Some companies in that price range:

Koei Tecmo: about 7 billion USD, but lots of other divisions besides gaming included.

Capcom: 6.7 Billion USD

Sega: 3.75 Billion USD

Square Enix: 6.9 billion USD

Konami: 8.1 Billion USD

Warner Bros (gaming): 8 billion USD (estimated)

UbiSoft: 12.3 billion USD

Namco Bandai: 18 billion USD (lots of other divisions besides gaming)

  • 0
snowy4manutd (on 30 January 2021)

It is much harder to buy European or Japanese companies because of regulations there though so WB looks a good bet to me

  • 0
Ka-pi96 (on 29 January 2021)

Hopefully they buy Sega.

  • 0
dx11332sega Ka-pi96 (on 29 January 2021)

That would be wild annd dissapoint few Sega fans , As for me I won't reveal my feelings What I think of that? But, I see konami metal gear more History and a franchise stronger than persona I guess? IDK? then theres the other huge japanese like square and capcom franchises This is something I think Microsoft just needs 1 Japanese Studiobut dont know who?

  • +2
Ka-pi96 dx11332sega (on 29 January 2021)

Sega have much more than just Persona. I'd argue that Total War is their biggest franchise too, rather than Persona anyway.

Plus a Sega studio is currently making Age of Empires 4 for MS anyway, so why not own them rather than just contract games out to them?

  • +2
dx11332sega Ka-pi96 (on 29 January 2021)

Yes, Total War and football manager and theiir both mostly Pc , So, the console space never tried these.If Xbox gets them I unsure if they'll be on xbox console probably not, but will help their PC sales?

  • +1
Ka-pi96 dx11332sega (on 29 January 2021)

Football Manager has been on Xbox a few times already, doesn't really sell that well there though. I mean it's a pretty niche series anyway, generally sells around 1m annually.

It would help with PC software though, yeah. Especially as stuff to put onto gamepass.

  • 0
dx11332sega Ka-pi96 (on 29 January 2021)

I um ..... OK

  • +1
dx11332sega (on 28 January 2021)

Whoever it is , It might be around 5 -10 billion mark I think?

  • 0
trunkswd dx11332sega (on 28 January 2021)

Yeah that would make the most sense. I am guessing not the big guns - EA, Activision, Take-Two - as they are worth well above that. I am thinking someone like Ubisoft, Warner Bros. gaming, Capcom, or Sega

  • +2
zero129 (on 30 January 2021)

Its going to be Sega if its true. Its what makes the most sense for MS as a company. They already have enough Western Developers under their belt. So they need Sega to diversify their lineup. and like others have said the original Xbox was kinda like the Dreamcast 2. Imagine seeing on the box of the Series S/X in Asia countrys "Exclusive Developers" "Sega" "Atlus" "Bethesda" etc. Having that Sega/Atlus label on the front of the console box would go a long way in breaking into Japan etc.

  • -1
vonny (on 29 January 2021)

"Rumor""insider" Christ some garbage gets posted.

  • -1
Mr Puggsly vonny (on 29 January 2021)

Rumors happened before the Bethesda purchase. Also, MS themselves said more acqusitions likely to happen.

  • -1
KratosLives (on 30 January 2021)

They should have done this years ago. Looks like next gen won't start for another 4 years for xbox.

  • -6