Bethesda was purchased by Microsoft last year and it was one of those moments that shook the video game industry.
In 2014, it was when Microsoft bought Mojang, developer of Minecraft, for $2.5 billion, or when Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion in that same year. Acquisitions this big don’t happen often but when they do, it makes a big splash.
One of these acquisitions occurred in late September 2020 when Microsoft purchased ZeniMax Media. You might know ZeniMax as the company that owns id software, Arkane Studios, Bethesda Softworks, and more.
With legendary IPs such as Doom, The Elder Scrolls, and Fallout under the Microsoft umbrella, things aren’t going to change that much at all in terms of development, but publishing can see something surprising happen.
Bethesda Game Studios
Bethesda Game Studios is well-known for its hit franchises such as The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and its upcoming new IP, Starfield.
In June 2018, head of Bethesda Game Studios, Todd Howard, revealed at E3 that the studio is working on the next installment in the The Elder Scrolls franchise with The Elder Scrolls VI, but it is also working on a brand-new IP named Starfield.
One of the few things we know about these upcoming titles is that Starfield is set in outer space. However, we don’t know much about either of these titles besides some leaked screenshots along with a possible 2021 release date.
Starfield will be arriving before the next The Elder Scrolls adventure so it’s possible that within the next five years, we may have both of these games ready to be played.
While working on those two enormous titles, Bethesda Game Studios has been working on improving its online RPG, Fallout 76.
This game launched in 2018 to a not-so-pleased audience and since then, Bethesda has been working hard to improve the game.
The most recent single-player Fallout game, Fallout 4, released in 2015 and was set in an apocalyptic Boston. Since 2015, we have seen Fallout 4 get a VR port on PC. When it comes to what’s next for this franchise, it might be pretty quiet for a while.
Since this studio is focusing on Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI, it is likely that we won’t receive a new Fallout game until possibly 2025 or later.
Arkane Studios was started in 1999, but it was its acquisition by ZeniMax in 2010 that helped this development studio find its groove.
In 2012, Dishonored was released to great reviews. This stealth game came out of nowhere to shock players with a fascinating story about an assassin with magical abilities.
Arkane would follow its initial success with a Dishonored sequel, which released in 2016.
The Dishonored sequel released to the same amount of fanfare, but didn’t see the same trajectory when it came to sales compared to the first installment.
In 2017, lead designer Ricardo Bare mentioned that the Dishonored series was resting, and if it was to be brought back in the future, it wouldn’t feature the same protagonists or even the same storyline.
Arkane resuscitated the Prey franchise in 2016 with a reimagining of the original, but the game didn’t sell as well as Bethesda had wished. There hasn’t been much news about what is next for this franchise, but it’s best to assume it isn’t high on the list of franchises to return to in the near future.
In recent years, Arkane has supported other studios under the ZeniMax umbrella, such as Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot.
Its next big adventure is called Deathloop. You will play as Colt, who is an assassin stuck in a time loop. Your goal is to take out eight targets by the end of a party that resets at midnight.
Deathloop will be released on May 21, 2021 and is an exclusive to PlayStation 5 and PC for one year.
Beyond Deathloop, it was confirmed this week that there is another game in development in the Arkane offices in Austin, Texas. This game is being brought together by the team that created the Dishonored series, as well as the Prey reimagining.
In 1991, id Software was founded and it didn’t take it long to create an IP that still defines this studio three decades later.
The studio made a name for itself in 1992 with Wolfenstein 3D and set a precedent for 3D games on a PC, along with the violent gameplay we all know and love.
While continuing the Wolfenstein franchise until 2008, id Software also created the Doom series in 1993.
The mixture of amazing graphics, sci-fi/horror setting, and a massive amount of violence helped Doom solidify itself as one of the best first-person shooter franchises ever.
That sentiment has stayed true to form since then. In 2016, Doom was rebooted for a new audience and it did amazingly well. The sequel, Doom: Eternal, came out last year to great reviews as well. While we don’t know for certain what is next for the Doom franchise, Doom: Eternal’s director, Hugo Martin, shared that the studio has ideas on where to take the franchise from here.
The Rage franchise hasn’t received the same amount of critical love that Wolfenstein and Doom received in the past.
Rage was released in 2011 to decent ratings but didn’t hit hard like other games id Software developed. The Rage IP took a major turn from the colorless background in 2011 and created a colorful world for new players to explore for Rage 2.
Rage 2 released to decent reviews complimenting the gunplay but criticizing almost everything else including the narrative, characters, side activities and more.
The Rage franchise is most likely put to bed for the foreseeable future and I can’t see a sequel or a reboot happening.
The final major IP that is developed by id Software is Quake. This franchise has a long history stretching back to 1996. Its most recent release was in 2017 with Quake Champions.
The future of Quake is a bit unknown at the moment. There haven’t been any rumblings about the next installation.
Since Quake has been a PC staple for the most part, it wouldn’t shock me if Microsoft decided to reignite the franchise. While Microsoft does have its sci-fi shooter in Halo, we don’t get Halo games often. If Microsoft and id Software sneak in a Quake game every few years, that may satisfy some players who are anticipating the next adventure for Master Chief.
Quake Champions, which is an online-focused game, hasn’t received much love since it went free-to-play in 2018. Now, whether Microsoft decides to put resources into that game or to develop the next installment of it is something that doesn’t seem likely, but I can’t see Microsoft letting this franchise stay in the dark for much longer.
When it comes to MachineGames, you only need to know one thing: Wolfenstein.
The Wolfenstein franchise was given to MachineGames in 2010 and after discussing it with the franchise’s previous developer, id Software, MachineGames knew a reintroduction to the Wolfenstein world was in order.
Wolfenstein: The New Order was released in 2014 to decent reviews and sold fairly well. A year later, the game received a stand-alone DLC expansion titled, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood. The expansion would set up the next installment in the franchise, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus which would debut in 2017.
Once Wolfenstein II was released, the only piece of information we knew about the franchise was that it’s going to be a trilogy.
In 2019, two side stories based in the Wolfenstein universe were released, Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot and Wolfenstein: Youngblood.
We still don’t know anything at all about Wolfenstein III besides it being the final game in this trilogy, as well as it featuring mecha-Hitler.
With the final main Wolfenstein game coming out four years ago, we should hear some news about the next and final installment soon. Games that are published by Bethesda love to be announced at E3, a few months before they are released, so maybe that will be the case for Wolfenstein III and we will be able to play it later this year.
Once the Wolfenstein trilogy is over, we now know what MachineGames will be working on afterward. Bethesda announced that MachineGames is working with LucasFilm Games on a new adventure in the world of Indiana Jones. It is a bit far off, but this is something to which action/adventure game fans can look forward.
Tango Gameworks is known for The Evil Within franchise and is currently working on Ghostwire: Tokyo, which is set to be released later this year.
The Evil Within was released to good reviews and decent sales, which made it possible for the horror franchise to receive a second installment.
When The Evil Within 2 released to a similar response both critically and commercially, people now believe the series may be in hibernation; we haven’t heard anything about this franchise since 2017.
Ghostwire: Tokyo is a first-person action-adventure game where you use psychic and paranormal powers to take on Tokyo along with the ghosts and spirits that haunt it.
Like Deathloop, this game will have a year of exclusivity on the PlayStation 5 before it will head to Xbox consoles.
ZeniMax Online Studios
The only game that ZeniMax Online Studios overlooks is The Elder Scrolls Online.
With ESO being released in 2014, there has been new content being added every year, including major expansions such as Morrowind, Summerset, and Elsweyr the past three years.
The Elder Scrolls Online has a player base of a little over 17 Million and it will only keep growing as more content gets released.
During The Game Awards 2020, it was revealed that Gates of Oblivion will be the next expansion coming to ESO and it will release in 2021.
One of the most exciting aspects of this acquisition is how these games will play into the Microsoft ecosystem, but more specifically, GamePass.
GamePass is Microsoft’s ‘Netflix of Gaming.’ For a small fee each month, you can play over 100 games on the Xbox consoles or PC.
Bethesda has shown support for GamePass before the acquisition with games like Dishonored 2 and Fallout 76. Since the acquisition was announced, Doom Eternal and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim have also joined the service.
One of the major benefits of this deal is the inclusion of The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield on GamePass for Xbox owners. If you are an owner of GamePass, there is a good chance that you will never have to purchase a Bethesda game ever again because of this.
When it comes to games, like Ghostwire: Tokyo and Deathloop, that are exclusive to other platforms for one year, those games will join the service once that exclusivity period has lapsed.
The deal isn’t completed just yet, but by the end of 2021, you can expect all of the games I mentioned above on GamePass.
When it comes to games developed by these developers only being released on Xbox and PC, head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, mentioned that it will be decided on a game by game basis. So it is still unknown whether Bethesda titles Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI will be on PlayStation consoles.