Bethesda's Todd Howard On Freedom And New Opportunities With Microsoft Acquisition
When Microsoft acquired Zenimax for a cool $7.5 billion, that move also gained the company Bethesda and all of its IPs, including the upcoming Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6. While this sparked exclusivity concerns, this move gives the company even more resources for the future, and with a new engine overhaul confirmed, director Todd Howard opened up a little more about the positives that this partnership offers.
Sitting down with GameIndustry.biz, Howard opened up about what the new generation ahead looks like for the company following the acquisition news. While the partnership isn't solidified until next year, both he and Pete Hines have spoken openly about what this means for their own creativity.
When the news went live, there was a lot of positive reactions regarding this acquisition, namely for what it could mean in terms of resources for new games. A new engine is long overdue and while an overhaul is coming, there are a few aspects of this studio that could use a little modernization. That's where Microsoft comes into play. That being said, the downside to that reactionary spectrum is fear that Microsoft will absorb what makes Bethesda Bethesda, which isn't unheard of when major companies continue to gain acquisitions, but that's something that Howard says isn't a concern.
"I grossly underestimated the impact in the larger gaming community," he told the site. "I was naively surprised at how big it landed and what it meant in the larger context of games, but I was happy with the feedback we saw. A lot of people saw it as a big positive thing, the same way we do."
He added, regarding the concern over absorption: "I don't know that it portends some other big consolidation. In other industries, that happens from time to time. All of the games I've done we've partnered with Microsoft in some way. So as we come to Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6, I guess this is partnering in a bigger way."
Creatively speaking, this was a smart move. While Microsoft has certainly had its major missteps in the past, under Phil Spencer's leadership the Xbox brand has made monumental changes with how it interacts within its network. When asked about his thoughts on the acquisition, Howard mentioned that he isn't worried because Bethesda, as a team and creative entity, is "giving up very little." He added, "[Microsoft is] very creator-driven, we're still going to get to be who we are. We're a subsidiary, but we're still running our games and pushing everything the way that we have.
"We felt very strongly about their view of access; games for everybody that we can bring to anybody regardless of where they are, what devices they're playing on. We're very, very passionate about that, and at the end of the day we're convinced we'll make better products and get them to more people easily by being part of Xbox as opposed to being just a third party."
It will be interesting to see how this acquisition plays out in the long run, especially now that Obsidian (the creators of Fallout: New Vegas) and Bethesda are reunited once more under the same umbrella. Could this mean a Fallout: New Vegas 2 is on the horizon? Who knows, but we can dream.