European Commission clears Microsoft’s $7.5b purchase of Bethesda Softworks

The European Commission has cleared Microsoft’s $7.5b purchase of ZeniMax, the parent company of video game maker Bethesda Softworks. The deal has been approved by the Commission without conditions, as it “does not raise serious doubts as to its compatibility with the common market.” 

It’s the biggest gaming acquisition in Microsoft’s history, eclipsing the $2.5 billion the firm paid for Minecraft developer Mojang in 2014.

Bethesda is a well known name in the video game industry, known for publishing a raft of successful game franchises including Fallout, The Elder Scrolls and Doom. Microsoft plans to push its subscription offering, Xbox Game Pass, by bringing Bethesda’s games to its extensive library of titles.

“The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, given the combined entity’s limited market position upstream and the presence of strong downstream competitors in the distribution of video games,” said the European Commission said in a statement.

“The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure.”

Games are fuelling new cloud-gaming services like Xbox Game Pass, which has reached a new milestone of over 15 million subscribers.

“Gaming is the most expansive category in the entertainment industry, as people everywhere turn to gaming to connect, socialise and play with their friends,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had said in a statement in September.

“As a proven game developer and publisher, Bethesda has seen success across every category of games, and together, we will further our ambition to empower the more than three billion gamers worldwide,” he added.

The planned acquisition includes publishing offices and development studios spanning the globe with over 2,300 employees, including Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios.

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