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Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft said Monday it would acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, one of the largest privately held game developers and publishers in the world, for $7.5 billion in cash. 

Why it matters: The deal brings an unprecedented level of gaming expertise and resources, including intellectual property, talent, and technology, to Microsoft's Xbox. It will also help further lift Microsoft's cloud gaming suite, Xbox Game Pass.

The state of play: The mega-deal is happening just weeks ahead of Microsoft's new Xbox launch in November.

  • Bethesda publishes hit games like Doom, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. They all will be added to Xbox Game Pass, which now has over 15 million subscribers.
  • The acquisition gives Microsoft eight additional creative studio teams, growing from 15 to 23. 

The deal also presents an enormous industry challenge to Sony, which has pioneered the production of games for years, and is also set to release its new PlayStation 5 in November.

The big picture: The move comes as a cloud gaming boom is taking over tech.

  • Worldwide cloud video game revenue is expected to grow to nearly $4.5 billion USD by 2024, up from roughly $500 million in 2019, per the report.
  • Tech giants are looking to move gaming software and processing to the cloud in an effort to eliminate the need for players to buy individual copies of games and expensive specialized hardware required to play them.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Frenetic tech giants' next trick: Learn patience and play a long game

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In 2021, tech, an industry built on speedy change, is going to have to learn to wait.

The big picture: Every crisis tech faces — from the onslaught of antitrust litigation to the massive SolarWinds cyberattack to the pandemic's toll on health and the economy — has unfolded in slow motion and will take at least as long to resolve.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
24 mins ago - Health

Special report: America's biggest hospitals vs. their patients

Expand chart
Data: JHU; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

More than a quarter of the 100 U.S. hospitals with the highest revenue sued patients over unpaid medical bills between 2018 and mid-2020, according to new research by Johns Hopkins University provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: The report suggests that, rather than being an anomaly, patient lawsuits are relatively common across the country and among the largest providers.

24 mins ago - Technology
Column / Tech Agenda

The next big social network: Nextdoor

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nextdoor, the neighborhood social network, has seen explosive growth over the past two years as homebound users became more fixated on what was happening on a hyper-local level.

Why it matters: Such rapid growth comes with challenges. What was once a niche social network is now so popular that it's grappling with some of the same thorny problems plaguing Facebook and Twitter, such as content moderation.