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Video Game Publisher: Bethesda Softworks, LLC
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Bethesda Softworks, LLC
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“It just works.” - Todd Howard

Bethesda Softworks, LLC is an American video game publisher. A subsidiary of ZeniMax Media, the company was originally based in Bethesda, Maryland, and eventually moved to their current location in Rockville, Maryland. Consisting of a broad portfolio of games in role-playing, racing, simulation, and sports, Bethesda Softworks' major franchises are distributed worldwide.

  • Type: Subsidiary of ZeniMax Media

Controversy:

Developer Conflicts: In 2001, Bethesda Softworks published Echelon in the United States, a video game developed by the Russian development studio Madia. Madia stated that Bethesda did not pay for boxed sales of the game, as was allegedly specified in the contract. Pete Hines, VP of PR at Bethesda, stated that Madia presented misleading allegations about Bethesda's role as publisher of Echelon and that Bethesda had no contractual obligations to Madia. Bethesda had also engaged in a successful hostile acquisition of Arkane Studios and attempted a hostile acquisition of Human Head Studios. Bethesda would purposefully fail project milestones so that the developers would not get paid, allowing ZeniMax to buy the company at a reduced rate.

Predatory Lawsuits: Bethesda forced developer No Matter Games to change the name of their game "Prey for the Gods" to "Praey for the Gods", because they felt the initial title infringed upon the trademark of their own game, Prey; not to be confused with the other Prey game Human Head Studios was working on when Bethesda attempted a hostile takeover. Another lawsuit was filed for a game called "Scrolls", which Bethesda alleged was too similar to the "Elder Scrolls". In September 2009, Bethesda Softworks sued Interplay Entertainment over Fallout trademark infringement. After a lengthy legal battle the lawsuit was settled in January 2012, with Interplay receiving US$2 million while Bethesda Softworks gained the right to develop a Fallout massively multiplayer online game, as well as the rights to Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics after December 31, 2013.

Fix Later Policy: Bethesda has come under fire for releasing $60 games in a barley functioning states with the intention of developing and fixing the game over the following years. In 2018, the company received major backlash over Fallout 76, which had numerous bugs and glitches. Bethesda initially stated that they would not take any remedial action.

Misleading Consumers: The Fallout 76 special edition advertised the inclusion of a canvas duffel bag, for which Bethesda ultimately substituted a nylon bag. Bethesda stated that the bag had been altered "due to unavailability of materials" and compensated customers by offering free in-game currency equating to $5.00. Bethesda's official website had also only changed the description of the bag from "canvas" to "nylon" following customer complaints, while the promotional image of the special edition continued to label the bag as "canvas". A different canvas bag had been given by Bethesda to online influencers. On December 5, 2018, customers who had submitted support tickets in order to receive the canvas bag had their personal information revealed as a result of a data breach in Bethesda's support system, exposing ticket details to viewing and editing by other users. Approximately 20,000 units of special edition power armor helmets sold through GameStop were recalled in September due to extremely high levels of mold. $80 collectable Nuka-Cola Dark rum bottles were advertised as real bottles. What consumers received was a large plastic shell with an ordinary glass bottle at its center.

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