Microsoft asks EU for nod in Bethesda acquisition

By Alex Calvin, Tuesday, 2 February 2021 14:12 GMT

European Commission to rule on the deal by March 5.

Tech giant Microsoft has asked the European Union to approve its multi-billion dollar purchase of Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media.

The Xbox firm requested European Commission approval on Friday, January 29 and has requested that it give the deal the thumbs up. Reuters reports that EU regulators have to give a ruling on this deal by March 5. The deal can be cleared – with or without concessions – but the EC can also open a full investigation into the acquisition if it has concerns about antitrust.

In other words, if the EU thinks that Bethesda and co. joining the Xbox firm gives Microsoft an unfair advantage in the marketplace, it could axe the deal altogether.

Microsoft announced in September 2020 that it was buying ZeniMax for a whopping $7.5 billion.

What this means for Bethesda games on other platforms going forward isn’t clear yet. Microsoft’s games boss Phil Spencer has said that it could recover its $7.5 billion without releasing Bethesda titles on other platforms, but the company’s CFO has also said that these games simply need to be “first or best” in Microsoft’s ecosystem. This is a strategy that has worked rather well for the firm’s ID @ Xbox indie games initiative.

Bethesda Studios’ Todd Howard has said since the deal was announced that it would be “hard to imagine” the company’s upcoming The Elder Scrolls 6 being an Xbox-exclusive release.

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