Bethesda Softworks

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Bethesda Softworks, LLC
Industry Video game industry
Founded 1986; 30 years ago (1986) in Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
Founder Christopher Weaver
Headquarters Rockville, Maryland, U.S.
Area served
Key people
  • Vlatko Andonov (president)
  • Todd Vaughn (VP, development)
  • Pete Hines (VP, PR & Marketing)
  • Ron Seger (VP, Sales)
Products List of Bethesda Softworks video games
  • Media Technology Limited (1994–1999)
  • ZeniMax Media (1999–present)
Divisions Bethesda Game Studios

Bethesda Softworks, LLC is an American video game publisher. A subsidiary of ZeniMax Media, the company was originally based in Bethesda, Maryland,[1] and eventually moved to their current location in Rockville, Maryland. The company's products consist of games in role-playing, racing, simulation, and sports.


Company name and origins[edit]

Bethesda Softworks was founded in 1986 by Christopher Weaver in Bethesda, Maryland, and moved to Rockville, Maryland in 1990.

Christopher Weaver, company President Vlatko Andonov recalls, had originally wanted to call the company "Softworks", but found the name taken. "So, our founder, sitting at his kitchen table in Bethesda decided after laborious thought to add Bethesda to Softworks and there you have it!"[2]

The company's founder, Chris Weaver, had, by Arena's release, transformed the company from a committee-run organization to one run which had to follow "a single person's vision": his. "For 18 years," Weaver stated, "from 1981 through 1999, all the money that was invested in the company was my own." Prior to creating Bethesda, Weaver had worked at MIT on "speech parsers, graphic interface and synthesized worlds - what people now call virtual reality...bleeding edge stuff." He had worked in news broadcast directing at NBC and as the Director of Technology Forecasting for ABC, eventually becoming Chief Engineer to the United States House Energy Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.[3][4]

1986–1999: Gridiron!, Electronic Arts lawsuit, Media Technology acquisition, The Elder Scrolls[edit]

Bethesda Softworks is credited with the creation of the first physics-based sports simulation, Gridiron!, in 1986 for the Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and Commodore 64/128. Early games scored respectably in the gaming press.[5]

Electronic Arts was so impressed with Gridiron! that they hired Bethesda to develop the first John Madden Football.[3] Bethesda eventually decided to sue EA in 1987 for USD$7.3 million, claiming that the company halted cross-console release of Gridiron! after incorporating many of its elements into their own Madden NFL.[6]

The company is best known for creating The Elder Scrolls RPG series, based upon the original programming of Julian Lefay. The first chapter of the series, entitled The Elder Scrolls: Arena, was released in 1994. Since that time, numerous other chapters have been released. The game has four direct sequels Daggerfall (1996), Morrowind (2002), Oblivion (2006) and Skyrim (2011), along with three spin-offs Battlespire (1997), Redguard (1998), and The Elder Scrolls Travels series.

In 1994, the company became known as the "entertainment software division" of Media Technology Limited, an international engineering research and development firm founded by members of the Architecture Machine Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), of which Christopher Weaver was CEO.[7][8]

In 1996, Bethesda Softworks acquired the development studio Flashpoint Productions and its founder, Brent Erickson, became the West Coast Development Director. The division produced several titles including Golf Magazine: 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples,Noctropolis and later the Burnout Championship Drag Racing series[9][10]

In 1997,The Company acquired XL Translab of the District, a graphics firm that got its start in Catholic University's School of Architecture. XL eventualy moved into a new center in Bethesda Softworks' Rockville headquarters.XL Translab has previously done work for PBS as well as television commercials for Fortune 500 companies.[11]

1999–present: ZeniMax Media acquisition, Fallout, The New Future[edit]

In 1999, Bethesda Softworks and it's divions were acquired by ZeniMax Media when Media Technology Limited sold its stock to get additional development funds. Christopher Weaver and Robert A. Altman were the Co-Founders of the successor company.

In 2001 Bethesda Softworks became a publisher only and the newly formed Bethesda Game Studios became the developer of their games.

In 2004, the Fallout franchise was acquired by Bethesda Softworks from Interplay Productions and the development of Fallout 3 was handed over to Bethesda Game Studios. Fallout 3 was released on October 28, 2008. Five downloadable content packs for Fallout 3 were released in the year following its release—Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta. Obsidian Entertainment's new Fallout title, Fallout: New Vegas was published in 2010. Fallout 4 was released on November 10, 2015.

The company continues to expand their publishing into new franchises, releasing Wet and Rogue Warrior in 2010, and Splash Damage's Brink and inXile Entertainment's Hunted: The Demon's Forge in 2011.

On June 24, 2009, Bethesda's parent company, ZeniMax Media, acquired id Software, whose titles, including Rage, would be published by Bethesda Softworks.[12]

Games published[edit]

1980s and 1990s[edit]




  1. ^ "Company Profile". ZeniMax Media. Archived from the original on February 9, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2015. 
  2. ^ Keefer, John (March 31, 2006). "GameSpy Retro: Developer Origins". GameSpy. Archived from the original on May 30, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Bethesda:The Right Direction". The Escapist. February 6, 2007. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Visiting Scholars and Postdocs". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Watch the graphics puck up". Amiga Computing, Volume 2, number 4, September 1989, p.p.18-19. September 1989. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  6. ^ "LATE NEWS FLASHES". September 1988. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Bethesda Softworks Unveils Racing Enthusiasts' Dream Site". July 14, 1997. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Fundamentals of Game Design". Autor Ernest Adams. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  9. ^ Böke, Ingmar (October 14, 2015). "Brent Erickson Noctropolis Interview". Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  10. ^ Brady, Scott (November 12, 1998). "Noctropolis Interview with Shaun Mitchell". Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  11. ^ "ThunderWave makes a big splash at Getty Center - Washington Business Journal". December 22, 1997. Retrieved July 24, 2016. 
  12. ^ "ZeniMax Media Acquires id Software". June 24, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 

External links[edit]