Microsoft’s Zenimax Media acquisition is beyond exclusivity


Microsoft recently acquired Zenimax Media, leading to pundits question potential Xbox exclusivity. Even then, the purchase was never about creating exclusives.

So far, the sale of Zenimax Media for $7.5 billion this week had people talking. It’s the biggest video game studio purchase of the last few years. Many talks about how the Xbox brand is looking at its own console exclusive titles.

Even then, there are zero signs that the PS5 competitor is trying that. In contrast, they’re looking to go as far and wide as possible.

Xbox’s “open ecosystem” mantra is bearing fruit

The Xbox division, under the direction of Xbox head Phil Spencer, has a new mantra. While Playstation is trying to drive home with their exclusives, Spencer is moving away. Xbox is trying to become diametrical opposites to PlayStation.

The Xbox brand is encroaching multiple channels with the video game titles. The centerpiece of this strategy is the Xbox Game Pass and its subscription catalog. With the Game Pass, Spencer is trying to become the “Netflix of video games.”

For the Game Pass to succeed, Microsoft needed to make their offerings as enticing as possible. They’re finding ways to be as ubiquitous as possible. To achieve ubiquity, they need to build an open ecosystem with roots at every platform.

“As a player you are the centre of our strategy,” Spencer said in an the interview. “Our device is not the centre of our strategy, our game is not the centre of the strategy. We want to enable you to play the games you want to play, with the friends you want to play with, on any device.”

Microsoft will be on all platforms soon

The Zenimax Media purchase for Microsoft is the culmination of its open ecosystem strategy. So far, the company caters to both their console, Xbox, and to the PC gaming crowd. Microsoft is also about to conquer the mobile gaming platform.

xCloud is now available for Android, with the company fighting for rights on iOS. Their domination of the mobile marketplace will widen as they gain 15 million subscribers for the Game Pass. It makes sense for Microsoft to acquire more studios.

At the moment, Electronic Arts is working with Microsoft through EA Play. Getting Zenimax means first dibs on upcoming next-gen titles for their platform. It will even come to pass that Microsoft, by extension, will develop titles for the PlayStation.

Microsoft is putting its roots around the games industry. They’re not looking for something as measly as trapping games as console exclusive titles. Such a view is myopic, undercutting the grandness of Spencer’s vision.

The Zenimax Media deal means Microsoft is everywhere. Their games will be on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, iOS, and Android. This move rounds out all interactive media platforms, and they’re ready to get bigger soon.

Featured image courtesy of Phil Spencer/Twitter

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