The European Commission has approved Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda parent company ZeniMax. This means Microsoft has cleared the last major hurdle to completing the deal, which it says it's aiming to do in the 2021 fiscal year.
What does the European Commission ruling mean for Microsoft and ZeniMax?
This news comes via the European Commission's official news blog. The Commission originally announced it would rule on the merger early in February. Despite the merger's remarkable $7.5 billion value and the size of the two companies involved, the Commission found that there were "no competition concerns". This decision was reached thanks to what the Commission calls "limited market position upstream", as well as strong competition in the field of video game publishing. Microsoft is now effectively free to complete the transaction, which was originally announced in September last year. It says it's hoping to do so in the second half of the 2021 fiscal year. That means we can expect the deal to be completed somewhere between September 2021 and March 2022.
Naturally, there's quite a bit of dry legal jargon surrounding this transaction, but essentially, it means that the Microsoft-ZeniMax deal is now pretty much guaranteed to go ahead. It's difficult to imagine what could stop the merger after it has passed the most difficult hurdles it faced, so it won't be long before Microsoft owns the rights to major franchises like Fallout and The Elder Scrolls.
What will happen once the Microsoft-ZeniMax deal goes ahead?
Per the European Commission's background info on the merger, Microsoft says that once ZeniMax is acquired, a Microsoft subsidiary called "Vault Merger Sub, Inc" will be merged completely with ZeniMax. Following that, Vault Merger Sub will cease to exist, and ZeniMax will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft. This means that ZeniMax will continue to exist underneath Microsoft and won't have its identity changed or altered in any way.
In practice, the merger won't mean much for Bethesda and ZeniMax's immediate releases. Along with Bethesda, other ZeniMax subsidiaries Microsoft is acquiring include Doom developer id Software and Dishonored studio Arkane. The latter's upcoming Deathloop is still a timed PS5 and PC exclusive, as its release was announced prior to Microsoft revealing its intent to acquire ZeniMax. In the future, we may well see The Elder Scrolls and Fallout games becoming Microsoft-exclusive titles. Xbox head Phil Spencer has said that Microsoft "doesn't have" to release Bethesda games on other platforms in order to make a profit. It might be time to switch to PC or start saving up for an Xbox Series X|S if you want to play future Bethesda, Arkane, or id Software titles.
Are you happy the European Commission approved the Microsoft deal? Let us know in the comments below!