On September 21, Microsoft bought ZeniMax Media, the holding company behind Bethesda, for $7.5 billion. Right now, nothing’s changed. The Elder Scrolls Online “will continue to be supported exactly as it was” and Deathloop and Ghosts of Tsushima are going to release on PS5 and PC first, as originally announced. Everything remains as it was in videogame land.
But you don’t spend that much money without wanting to see something special in return, and what Microsoft chooses to do now that it owns The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Doom, Wolfenstein, and Dishonored alongside the substantial collection of games and series already in its pockets will be interesting, to say the least.
Here are 19 things this deal makes possible—some serious ideas and some not so serious. OK, most of them are not serious.
1. As thousands of eager Fallout: New Vegas fans have pointed out, this means that Obsidian and Bethesda are under the same roof, and that Fallout: New Vegas 2 is a possibility.
2. Id Software makes a Halo game. Ideally, Halo reimagined as a ’90s-style PC FPS.
3. Brain Fargo basically runs Interplay again. Fargo founded Interplay in 1983, and much later InXile. Interplay’s studio Black Isle made Fallout and Fallout 2, and later many of its developers went on to found Obsidian Entertainment. Microsoft Studios is basically the Brian Fargo Cinematic Universe at this point.
4. Someone makes a Smash-style brawler featuring characters from all around the Microverse. (That’s what it’s called now.) Picture it: Master Chief fighting Corvo from Dishonored. The Skyrim guy beating up B.J. Blazkowicz. Actually, this sounds terrible.
5. The Windows Store and Bethesda launcher are combined to create the worst client ever.
6. Doomguy in Halo.
7. Master Chief in Doom.
8. Doom in MS Word. An imp becomes the new Clippy, called Impy. He pops up to help you write extremely brutal letters.
9. Arkane and Double Fine collaborate on the quirkiest immersive sim ever. Let Tim Schafer write a deep, systems-driven game about sentient electric guitars or something. We don’t know what this game would be, but it would be cool.
10. A Minecraft horror spin-off directed by Shinji Mikami.
11. Microsoft Flight Simulator, but one of the cockpit instruments is a Mimic from Prey.
12. Fallout 360, Fallout One, Fallout Series X.
13. Bethesda finances the construction of actual Fallout vaults. In 200 years, someone opens one and finds a bunch of deranged Todd Howard clones. “Todd?” “Toooooodd!”
14. Microsoft Solitaire becomes a CCG: Solitaire Legends.
15. Skype gains the power of Dishonored’s Heart, so you can learn the secrets of the people you’re talking to.
16. Cortana, the virtual Windows assistant (not the Halo AI), is replaced by Sheogorath, Prince of Madness.
17. Age of Empires: The Elder Scrolls.
18. The Elder Scrolls: Age of Empires.
19. The word “exclusive” becomes even more confusing. It’s already confusing enough when games are announced as timed console exclusives. Now that Microsoft owns a publisher that has set up exclusivity deals with PlayStation, we can probably look forward to something like “PlayStation and Xbox App for PC (Beta) Launch Exclusive* (*Coming to Xbox Series X at a later date).”