What just happened? Long-time Bethesda executive Pete Hines announced he is leaving the company. The decision falls suspiciously close to Bethesda's parent company, Microsoft, finalizing its record-breaking $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard King. Hines said in his X (Twitter) post that he is retiring to "explore" other "interests and passions."

Pete Hines started at Bethesda as Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Communications in 1999, the same year Zenimax acquired the company. Last October, he was promoted to Head of Publishing. In his tenure, Hines ran the marketing campaigns for the studio's biggest games, including Morrowind (2002), Oblivion (2006), Fallout 3 (2008), Fallout: New Vegas (2010), The Elder Scrolls Online (2014), and Fallout 4 (2015).

"After 24 years, I have decided my time at Bethesda Softworks has come to an end," tweeted Hines early Monday morning. "I am retiring and will begin an exciting new chapter of my life exploring interests and passions, donating my time where I can, and taking more time to enjoy life." Hines refused to say goodbye and promised to remain a part of the community.

Hines frequently attended and spoke at conferences with Bethesda Director and Producer Todd Howard. The two are largely regarded as the company's mouthpiece, even more visible and vocal than current and former CEOs Tori Dalair and Jody Siebert.

Bethesda responded to his announcement, acknowledging his public presence and thanking him for his contributions to the company over the past two decades. Minutes later, Bethesda wrote him a cheesy doctor's note excusing Hines from work.

The tweet was a good-natured ribbing for his penchant for writing players "doctor's notes" just before game releases. His most recent excused Starfield players from work, school, or chores "for the foreseeable future" on the eve of the game's early access launch.

"Please excuse _________," the faux note read. "They are currently undergoing treatment for an infection from an Ashta bite after a recent expedition to Tau Ceti II."

Although his retirement comes as Microsoft closes its Activision merger, there is no indication that he is being forced out. However, Hines did express his negative feelings about the deal during his testimony before the FTC. He said it was frustrating that Microsoft allowed Activision to keep Call of Duty multiplatform while it forced Bethesda to keep Starfield (and The Elder Scrolls VI) exclusive to Xbox and PC.

However, he buffered that by echoing Todd Howard's sentiments, saying that making games exclusive streamlined development, allowing Starfield to launch earlier launch than it would have if they continued developing a PlayStation version.

"We would not be putting [Starfield] out in nine weeks if we were supporting an entire additional platform, in my opinion," said the exec.

Hines is the second executive under Microsoft's umbrella to announce his retirement after the close of the Activation deal. Activision's CEO Bobby Kotick said he would step down from his position on at the end of December.