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Microsoft Fires Across Sony’s Bow in First Major Shot of Console War.

Well, that was aggressive.

Microsoft is acquiring ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks for $7.5B.

Everyone knew there was a console war brewing between Microsoft and Sony, with both releasing new systems in less than two months. But today, the tech giant from the Pacific Northwest decided to go from early skirmish mode, right into offing the Archduke of Ferdinand. It’s hard to remember such a bold move. One that makes Sony’s coup of getting Call of Duty DLC on the PS4 early look like an argument over wine selection at your mom’s book club.

The war is on, and Microsoft now has the following arsenal:

Arkane Studios (Dishonored)

Arkane Studios Austin

Bethesda Game Studios (Skyrim, Fallout 3, Fallout 4)

Bethesda Game Studios Dallas

Bethesda Softworks

id Software (Doom, Doom Eternal)

MachineGames (modern Wolfenstein series)

Roundhouse Studios (Rune 2)

Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within, Ghostwire: Tokyo)

ZeniMax Online Studios (The Elder Scrolls Online, Fallout 76)

Notice a trend there? Yeah, people like playing all of those games on their PlayStation. Sony fans were looking forward to a long-term relationship with those studios. These games are suddenly in play at a time when consumers are getting ready to throw $500 into the mix for their shiny new PS5s.

So here’s the unanswered question as of this writing: will future Bethesda games be available on the PS5 and Switch? Or are they destined to become PC/Xbox exclusives? It seems crazy to ignore so much potential revenue, but these are crazy times. What isn’t crazy is Microsoft’s plan for making the Xbox Series X an essential part of your life. Something you can’t live without. To help insure the ubiquitous nature of the console, you first have to put it into as many homes as possible — and this deal was a huge step towards making that happen.

What comes next? We’ll have to wait and see. But one thing we know for sure is that the Xbox Game Pass subscription is looking even sweeter than it did 24 hours ago.

Grab some popcorn, and some disposable income while you’re at it, because this looks to be a wild ride.

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