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Bethesda Softworks

Bethesda Softworks, LLC, a ZeniMax Media Company, is a developer and publisher of video games.


Bethesda Softworks has been a developer and publisher of interactive entertainment content for over two decades. Founded in 1985 by Christopher Weaver in Bethesda, Maryland; they moved to Rockville, Maryland in 1990, and have a long history of PC and console games. 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! Bethesda was acquired by Zenimax Media, Inc., co-founded by Weaver, in 1999.

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 House Subcommittee on Communications. He had created Bethesda "to see if the PC market was a viable place to develop games". The executive command and personal investment allotted to himself allowed the company to become, in Weaver's words, "a boutique house", a house which "kept rewriting rules and inventing new things." Weaver, in the opinion of journalist Joe Blancato, was a man "used to having good ideas." The first employee after Weaver, Edward Fletcher, was trained as an electrical engineer, had worked as a debugger, computer equipment designer and programmer. Fletcher's vision for the company was humbler than Weaver's, hoping only to design a game for the Amiga at a low cost.

The rewritten rules of Bethesda's first title, Gridiron! were essentially produced by happenstance. Fletcher wanted to produce a football game that relied on what most sports games of the 1980s had before it: lookup tables of player statistics. Weaver, though he knew little of the sport, found lookup tables boring, and believed that there must be a better way to make a football game. Weaver thus theorized for the game what was essentially the world's first real-time physics engine, which took into account "momentum, mass, direction, deflection, gravity and other “uninteresting” (physics) things". Electronic Arts was so impressed with Gridiron! that they hired Bethesda to develop the first John Madden Football. 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 John Madden Football. Bethesda's early games scored respectably in the gaming press, earning such accolades as "the most accurate and enjoyable simulation of a sport I have ever had the pleasure to play", "the best ice hockey sim yet", for Wayne Gretzky Hockey, and a note that Gridiron! "demands a look".

With a broad panoply of games in role-playing, racing, simulation, and sports, Bethesda Softworks major franchises are distributed worldwide.

Bethesda 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, which led to Bethesda's creation of the first John Madden Football game for Electronic Arts. Despite their long history of development in many genres, they are perhaps best known for creating The Elder Scrolls RPG series which Weaver initiated in 1992, 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 latest chapter, The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, was released in March 2006.

Bethesda is also the publisher for three new Star Trek games, Star Trek - Legacy (For PC/Xbox 360), Star Trek - Tactical Assault (for Nintendo DS/PlayStation Portable), and Star Trek - Encounters (PS2). Press Release

In 2004, Bethesda acquired the Fallout franchise from Interplay Entertainment. Todd Howard said in January 2007 that "We started work [on Fallout 3] in late 2004 with a few people. We only had about 10 people on it until Oblivion wrapped, but most of our staff is on it now." Fallout 3 is expected to be released October 28th, 2008.


Bethesda uses two logos. "Bethesda Game Studios" is often used to designate games developed "in house" by its own team. This may occasionally be seen on games published in foreign countries by outside publishers that were originally developed by Bethesda.

"Bethesda Softworks" is often used to designate games "published" by Bethesda, but not always developed by them. This usage has not always been consistent from game to game.

The Elder Scrolls series

The Elder Scrolls Travel Series: Shadowkey, Stormhold, and Dawnstar were co-developed by sister studio Vir2L, a ZeniMax Media company.

Games in development by Bethesda Game Studios

Game Release Date Platforms Home Page
Fallout 3 October 28, 2008 PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Games to be published by Bethesda Softworks

Game Release Date Platforms Home Page
Rogue Warrior: Black Razor TBD 2008 Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 Link

Official List of Games Currently in Development

List of games by Bethesda Softworks

Games developed and published by Bethesda

Year Title Genres Platforms
1986 Gridiron! Sports Atari ST, Amiga, Commodore 64
1988 Wayne Gretzky Hockey Sports Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, NES
1990 Wayne Gretzky Hockey 2 Sports DOS
1990 Terminator, The Free-form Action, Adventure DOS
1990 Hockey League Simulator Sports management Amiga, DOS
1991 Wayne Gretzky Hockey 3 Sports DOS
1991 NCAA Basketball: Road To The Final Four ('91/'92 Edition) Sports DOS
1992 Terminator 2029 Action, Strategy DOS
1992 Hockey League Simulator 2 Sports management DOS
1993 Terminator: Rampage, The Action DOS
1993 Terminator 2029: Operation Scour Add-on Action, Strategy DOS
1993 The Elder Scrolls: Arena Action, Adventure, RPG DOS
1994 Terminator 2029 - The Deluxe CD Edition Action, Strategy DOS
1994 NCAA: Road to the Final Four 2 Sports DOS
1994 Delta V Action, Racing DOS
1995 Terminator: Future Shock Action DOS
1996 SkyNET Action DOS
1996 The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall Adventure, RPG DOS
1997 The Elder Scrolls Legends: Battlespire Action RPG DOS, Windows
1997 PBA Bowling Sports Windows
1997 XCar: Experimental Racing Racing Simulation DOS
1998 Burnout: Championship Drag Racing Racing DOS
1998 The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard Action RPG Windows
1998 Symbiocom Adventure Windows
1998 Zero Critical adventure Windows
1999 NIRA Intense Import Drag Racing Racing Windows
1999 Skip Barber Racing Racing Windows
2000 PBA Bowling 2 Sports Windows
2000 PBA Bowling 2001 Sports Windows, Dreamcast (unreleased but gold-version leaked)
2000 IHRA Drag Racing Racing Windows, PlayStation
2001 IHRA Motorsports Racing Windows
2001 IHRA Drag Racing 2 Racing PlayStation 2
2001 Echelon Action, Simulation Windows
2002 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Adventure, RPG Windows, Xbox
2002 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Collector's Edition) Adventure, RPG Windows
2002 The Elder Scrolls III: Tribunal Adventure, RPG Windows
2003 IHRA Drag Racing 2004 Racing Xbox
2003 The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon Adventure, RPG Windows
2003 The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon & Tribunal Duopack Adventure, RPG Windows
2003 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Game of the Year Edition) Adventure, RPG Windows, Xbox
2003 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Platinum Edition) Adventure, RPG Xbox
2004 The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Game of the Year - Platinum Edition) Adventure, RPG Xbox
2004 IHRA Drag Professional Racing 2005 Racing Xbox, PlayStation 2
2004 AMF Bowling 2004 Sports Xbox, PlayStation 2
2006 IHRA Drag Racing: Sportsman Edition Racing Windows, Xbox, PlayStation 2

Games developed by Bethesda, but externally published

Title Genres Platforms Publisher
1991 Home Alone Action NES THQ
1991 Where's Waldo? Puzzle NES THQ
2004 High Rollers Casino Cards, Gambling Xbox Mud Duck Productions
2006 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Action RPG Windows, Xbox 360 2K Games
2007 PlayStation 3 2K Games
2007 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (Game of the Year Edition) Action RPG Windows, Xbox 360, PS3 (US) 2K Games

Games produced by Bethesda

The following games were produced by Bethesda, but externally developed. (Note: Vir2L is a division of ZeniMax Media Inc., Bethesda's parent company, and Vir2L calls themselves a 'sister company' to Bethesda on their website.)

Title Genres Platforms Developer
1998 F-16 Aggressor Vehicle simulation Windows Virgin Interactive
1998 Magic and Mayhem Action, Strategy Windows Mythos Games
2000 Gromada Action Windows Buka Entertainment
2000 Sea Dogs Action, RPG, Simulation, Strategy Windows Akella
2001 Magic & Mayhem: The Art of Magic RPG, Strategy Windows Mythos Games
2002 Family Card Games Fun Pack Cards PlayStation Mud Duck Productions
2003 Puzznic Puzzle, Action PlayStation Altron
2003 Pirates of the Caribbean RPG Windows, Xbox Akella
2003 The Elder Scrolls Travels: Stormhold Adventure, RPG Java and BREW enabled mobile devices Vir2L, co-published by MFORMA
2004 Powerdrome Racing Xbox, PlayStation 2 Argonaut Games, co-published by Mud Duck Productions
2004 The Elder Scrolls Travels: Dawnstar Adventure, RPG Java and BREW enabled mobile devices Vir2L
2004 The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey Adventure, RPG N-Gage Vir2L co-published by Nokia
2004 IHRA Drag Racing Multiplayer Racing Java and BREW enabled mobile devices Vir2L, co-published by MFORMA
2005, 2006 Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth Adventure Xbox, Windows Headfirst Productions
2006 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow Adventure Windows (Not Vista 64), PlayStation 2 7 Studios, Buena Vista Games, co-published by Ubisoft
2006 Star Trek Legacy Strategy Windows, Xbox Mad Doc Software
2006 Star Trek: Tactical Assault Strategy PSP, Nintendo DS Quicksilver Software
2007 Star Trek: Conquest Strategy Wii, PS2 4J Studios
2008 Bully (Publishing in Japan only) Action PS2, Xbox 360 Rockstar Vancouver, Rockstar New England


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