The European Union is currently deciding whether to approve the $7.5 billion acquisition that was revealed back in September 2020. Documents seen on the European Union Law website EUR-Lex refer to the logistics of the acquisition, mentioning a “merger pursuant to which a newly created Microsoft subsidiary (‘Vault’) will be merged with and into ZeniMax.”
While it’s not clear exactly how this will work, the ‘Vault’ subsidiary would be a good way to house Microsoft’s new acquisitions under one quasi-independent banner, affording ZeniMax’s studios (which includes Bethesda, Arkane, MachineGames, and more) a level of freedom while still being owned by Microsoft. The text explicitly says that Microsoft will acquire “sole control of the whole of ZeniMax,” regardless, but the document suggests they will be accomplishing this via the Vault subsidiary. We’ll be sure to learn more once the deal gets the all-clear from the European Union.[ignvideo url=”https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/09/21/microsoft-to-buy-bethesda-and-parent-company-zenimax-media”]
It’s a different approach to Microsoft’s previous acquisitions, such as Obsidian, Ninja Theory and Double Fine, which were formally made a part of Microsoft and housed under its Xbox Game Studios brand. Whether ZeniMax’s studios become known as part of Vault or not, the move to create a Microsoft subsidiary to complete the merger seems to mark a level of independence compared to other acquired companies.
This tallies with previous reporting about Bethesda’s semi-independence under Microsoft. Phil Spencer told CNET in September that “they’re not about becoming us,” in reference to the deal. Bethesda SVP of global marketing Pete Hines backed this up, saying in a statement that “we’re still working on the same games we were yesterday, made by the same studios we’ve worked with for years, and those games will be published by us,” around the same time.
We still haven’t heard how the acquisition will work in regards to the exclusivity of future Bethesda games. However, Bethesda head honcho Todd Howard recently said that it’s “hard to imagine” a game like Elder Scrolls 6 being Xbox-exclusive. Arkane’s Deathloop will launch later this year as a timed PS5 exclusive, with Microsoft honouring the deal after acquiring Arkane as part of the ZeniMax acquisition.[poilib element=”accentDivider”]
Jordan Oloman is a freelance writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.