Why Microsoft bought Bethesda for $7.5 billion

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Microsoft’s priciest video game acquisition, a $7.5 billion purchase of Bethesda Softworks parent company ZeniMax Media, shocked the industry on Monday. The deal puts Bethesda, one of the industry’s biggest publishers and owners of some of the most successful gaming series, under the Xbox brand. It also raises a simple but powerful question: how does buying Bethesda fit into Microsoft’s overall Xbox strategy?

The immediate and inevitable reaction from consumers focused, naturally, on competition, and whether future Bethesda titles will become Xbox exclusives. It’s a sensible concern — why, after all, would any company in an industry as cutthroat as gaming purchase a major entertainment brand if not to deprive its primary rival the…

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