Ever since GSC Game World cancelled S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, there has been a lot of speculation about what will happen next with the post-apocalyptic, open-world shooter series. A new report seconds a rumor that Skyrim publisher/developer Bethesda has bought the rights to the series.
Russian blogger Sergey Galyonkin says that Bethesda now has the rights to create future S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. creator and GSC Game World head Sergei Grigorovich will retain rights to the series in all other mediums, including books and movies. The report notes that Bethesda would have to use their own tech on any S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game they make; the X-Ray Engine used in previous installments is presumably property of GSC, which kinda-sorta still exists.
The Bethesda rumor first started in April. An alleged statement by Griogorovich said that the company had purchased the series' rights. GSC immediately denied that any sale had been made. Bethesda didn't comment at the time and hasn't commented on this latest report so who knows. In summary, there's no hard evidence that this deal has actually happened.
It seems like wishful thinking is propping up this rumor. Bethesda is arguably the best developer of open-world RPG's in existence. Furthermore, they've got quite a bit of experience in the post-apocalyptic action department from making Fallout 3. Who better than them to carry on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, right?
The thing is: why would Bethesda want the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series? Do they really need another post-apocalyptic, open-world franchise in their stable? Now that they've built up Fallout into such a huge brand name, I doubt they'd choose to develop S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 over Fallout 4.
Maybe that's the answer: they won't develop it. They'll buy the publishing rights and hand off the development duties to some other studio. If that's the case, I'm already a lot less excited for this game. Bethesda's track record with games they didn't make themselves isn't great (Wet, Rogue Warrior, etc.). They do own id Software these days but id already has an open-world, post-apocalyptic series of their own (RAGE) to nurture. Arkane Studios, the other competent subsidiary with shooter experience, is busy making Dishonored and will probably expand that into a franchise if it catches fire this fall.
The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series offers a really engaging mix of action, horror and open-world exploration. Anyone who has played these games wants S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 to live on and wants a skilled developer to bring it to market. It doesn't make much sense for Bethesda to be that savior, though.