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Bethesda may not be Microsoft's last big Xbox Studios purchase

Doom Eternal
(Image credit: iD Software)

It was perhaps the biggest shock announcement of this end-of-cycle games console war: Microsoft has confirmed it will be buying ZeniMax Media, the company behind games developers including Bethesda Softworks and Id Software. And it may not be the last purchases it makes.

Speaking to CNET, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that he would consider buying even more studios in the future, as it looks to firm up its gaming position on the eve of the Xbox Series X launch.

"You can't wake up one day and say, 'Let me build a game studio,'" Nadella said. "The idea of having content is so we can reach larger communities."

"Content is just the incredible ingredient to our platform that we continue to invest in," added Xbox head Phil Spencer in the same interview. "This doubles the size of our creative organization."

Spending spree

Splashing $7.5 billion on the makers of The Elder Scrolls and Doom, is a monumental amount – for comparison, Disney spent a 'mere' $4 billion buying up the Marvel superhero properties.

But Microsoft isn't averse to buying up developers and publishers. It noted that one of its key weaknesses in the Xbox One / PS4 generation fight was a lack of exclusives, so in recent years has also bought up the likes of Double Fine (Psychonauts), Obsidian (The Outer Worlds) and Ninja Theory (Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice). 

For Microsoft, this generation's big play is on games as a service, with its GamePass subscription offering more than 100 games to PC and Xbox players for a monthly charge. Locking in studios to keep that subscription topped up with enticing new releases will be vital to that strategy bearing fruit.