In a year dominated by new console releases, Microsoft’s announcement today may be the biggest gaming news of 2020. The Xbox maker has signed a deal to buy ZeniMax Media, one of the largest independent games publishers in operation. Its name may not ring a bell, but the studios it owns certainly will, since they are behind some of the biggest franchises in gaming’s history. That includes id Software (Doom, Quake), Arkane Studios (Dishonored, Prey), Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within) and Bethesda Game Studios (The Elder Scrolls, Fallout).
Microsoft is paying $7.5 billion in an all-cash deal, which is expected to complete in the second half of 2021, subject to regulatory approval. The company was valued in 2016 for around $2.5 billion and has been the subject of takeover speculation for much of the year. A rumor published to Reddit earlier this year and found by SegmentNext claimed that Sony had been eyeing up one of the biggest publishers around.