According to a new legal document, Microsoft is creating a new subsidiary called ‘Vault.’ Microsoft will legally classify Bethesda and ZeniMax under Vault, rather than being directly connected to Xbox Game Studios. That is, of course, if the EU accepts the $7.5 Billion deal that includes ZeniMax Media as a whole, Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios.
This sounds a little confusing, especially because Microsoft’s control over Vault seems iron-clad. The document states that Microsoft will acquire “sole control of the whole of ZeniMax.” Further details show that I don’t know a thing about mergers’ legalities or much else about the situation. Luckily, a few experts have cleared up some of the confusion.
In simple terms, Phil Spencer told CNET that “they’re [ZeniMax] not about becoming us,” when talking about the deal. Pete Hines, Bethesda’s SVP of global marketing, added, “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,” in a separate blog post.
Microsoft controlling Vault does not guarantee exclusivity
Phil Spencer reports that Microsoft will honor the PS5 exclusivity agreed upon for two upcoming games. Future Bethesda games will still appear on Xbox, PC, and other consoles on a “case by case basis.”
We now know that ‘Vault’ will be separate from the existing Xbox Game Studios. Xbox Game Studious has 13 individual development teams working on new IP’s and content for existing games. Vault sounds like an easy way to keep all of ZeniMax’s under one umbrella. The more I read, the less I’m convinced that Microsoft will use Vault as an excuse to keep games such as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout as Xbox exclusives.
Todd Howard talked about not being limited to the Xbox ecosystem: “Like our original partnership, this one is about more than one system or one screen. We share a deep belief in the fundamental power of games, in their ability to connect, empower, and bring joy. And a belief we should bring that to everyone – regardless of who you are, where you live, or what you play on. Regardless of the screen size, the controller, or your ability to even use one.”
What this entails
We’re not looking at a Bayonetta situation. Sega initially funded the PlatinumGames hit, but Nintendo stepped in once the project halted and supported it. Once Sega and Nintendo shared the rights, they agreed they should make the game for the Wii U. The games in Bethesda’s wheelhouse aren’t facing funding challenges. Still, they will take advantage of the funding to become better developers.
It looks like a win-win. ZeniMax will have far more resources to create video games. Microsoft will be able to task them with creating exclusive IPs while ZeniMax continues to release their well-known franchises across each console for the foreseeable future. That’s what I hope Phil Spencer’s “case by case” basis truly means.
PSU offered a great example of how the above might work. The PlayStation Studios logo appears on the Xbox Series X|S retail box for MLB The Show 21. Similarly, we may see “Vault” labeled video games on the PlayStation versions of these games in the future.
ZeniMax is already looking to the future
The studio that created Elder Scrolls Online is currently hiring for several positions ranging from art, design, engineering, and production. ZeniMax Online Studios tweeted about the job postings and noted that the positions are for ESO and multiple unannounced projects.
Of course, we can only speculate what could be coming, but seeing more than one project in the works confirms that ZeniMax isn’t waiting for the merger—they’re ready to create now. As a fan of ESO, I’m excited to see what comes of their newfound resources.