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Bethesda Softworks has been a developer and publisher of interactive entertainment content for over two decades. Founded in 1986 by Christopher Weaver in Bethesda, Maryland and moved to Rockville, Maryland in 1990, the company has a long history of PC and console games. In 1998, Weaver decided to expand the company beyond PC games and into multimedia and invited Robert A. Altman to help manage the budding company. Weaver and Altman co-founded ZeniMax Media Inc. in 1999.

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. 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's direct sequels, Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim were released in 1996, 2002, 2006, and 2011 respectively. Additionally, the game has had three spin-offs: Battlespire (1997), Redguard, (1998) and The Elder Scrolls Travels: Shadowkey (2004). Bethesda is also known for publishing titles based upon popular movie franchises, including The Terminator, Star Trek, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

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 DLCs for Fallout 3 were released in the year following its release — Operation: Anchorage, The Pitt, Broken Steel, Point Lookout, and Mothership Zeta.

Bethesda continues to expand their publishing into new franchises. In 2009, Bethesda released WET and Rogue Warrior, in 2010 Obsidian Entertainment's new Fallout title, Fallout: New Vegas was published and Splash Damage's Brink was released in May 2011. Hunted: The Demon's Forge, a fantasy action game developed by inXile Entertainment was released on May 31, 2011. On June 24, 2009, Bethesda's parent company, ZeniMax Media, acquired id Software and published id's title RAGE — it was later announced that any games using the new id Tech 5 game engine will be published by them.

On May 14, 2018, after several days of promos leading up to that date, they officially announced that RAGE 2 is in production, set for a Spring 2019 release, and that it will be co-developed by both id Software and Avalanche Studios.

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