Bethesda Game Studios’ Todd Howard has spoken out about his thoughts regarding Microsoft’s $7.5 Billion acquisition of Zenimax Media (which includes Bethesda Softworks and its IPs).
From Todd Howard:
I have been incredibly blessed to spend my entire career at, and help build, one of the best places to make games in the world – Bethesda.
And I’ve had the joy of doing it with some of the most talented, humble, and passionate people there are. They are part of my family, and my good friends. I have also had the pleasure of working with, and partnering with, many of the best gaming and tech companies in the world. But our longest, and closest partner during my career, has been Microsoft.
Today we join them, and I wanted to share some personal thoughts on what it means and our shared vision.
The trajectory of Xbox, and the trajectory of Bethesda, in many ways have gone hand in hand.
From our beginning, we had primarily been a PC developer. In 1999, two things happened. One, Bethesda became part of a brand-new startup – ZeniMax Media. And Microsoft started development of their first video game console – The Xbox. I can remember my first trip to Redmond to discuss the new system and bringing our next game, Morrowind, to the Xbox.
I was dubious Xbox Morrowind would be worth the time, somewhat on a technical level, but more so from taking a hardcore RPG and moving it from a PC desktop experience to a controller-and-sofa experience. If we made it work, would people want it?
Microsoft and their new Xbox crew had a view, that I came to share completely. Shouldn’t we allow anyone to have this experience? Why does it matter where the screen is or what the controller is? There are many people without the same access, and we can bring it to them.
Morrowind would go on to become one of the best-selling Xbox games of all time, behind Halo, another PC style game some said wouldn’t work. Its success paved the way for the growth of our company, and proved the point – people wanted this experience, regardless of device.
Microsoft quickly let us in on their next system, the Xbox 360. More than a PC port, our aim with our next game, Oblivion, was to usher in the next generation of gaming. With each game, from Fallout 3 to Skyrim, our studio and company grew, adding brilliant and like-minded studios across the globe. All of us sharing in the belief that expanding the reach of gaming was fundamental, whether it was on a pc, console, your phone, or the cloud.
With each new console cycle, we evolved together. From bringing mods to consoles with Fallout 4, now over a billion downloads, to the latest technologies fueling Xbox Series X/S. These new systems are optimized for the vast worlds we love to create, with generational leaps not just in graphics, but CPU and data streaming as well. It’s led to our largest engine overhaul since Oblivion, with all new technologies powering our first new IP in 25 years, Starfield, as well as The Elder Scrolls VI.
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.
We can’t think of a better group of people to do that with than those at Xbox. We have friendships that go back to those original days. From Phil to his senior leaders to developer support, they don’t just talk about putting players first, they passionately live it.
At Bethesda, we’ve been lucky enough to create games we love, and have an audience who loves them as much as we do. I have personally been humbled by the many industry honors I have received, as they belong to the entire studio. But one has always stood out to me for a special reason. When I received the Lifetime Achievement Award at GDC, I joked in my acceptance “I wonder how many achievement points this one is worth?” At the end of the ceremony, some good friends from Microsoft congratulated me and said they’d find out. A few months later I was given a code to a game they had created, named after me and locked to my account. When ran, it unlocks a single achievement – “Lifetime – 1000pts.” It still sits in my list when I check, and I smile every time.
It has been a lifetime. But there’s more to come and achievements to unlock together. We hope you join us.
All the best,
Bethesda Game Studios