Bethesda Softworks Interview, Part One

While there really isn't anything new on The Elder Scrolls or Fallout front to be gleaned, I figured long-time Bethesda Softworks fans would still be interested in checking out part one of a multi-part interview with PR frontman Pete Hines on Edge. In it, Pete covers the company's history, how their relationship with ZeniMax is set up, their acquision strategy, and more:
How has Bethesda changed as a company over the years?

Well, when I started in '99, Bethesda had been acquired by ZeniMax. That was really the point at which Bethesda began to move away from developing and publishing only its own titles. Bethesda's been a publisher forever but it only ever published its own stuff. So ZeniMax came in and gave us funding and resources and kind of prodded us to do bigger things. That was the impetus for doing Morrowind on the Xbox. We said, "We've never done anything on a console but this might actually work technically and we're gonna give it a go." That really started the snowball effect of making consoles a big part of our development process.


Over the last three or four years, ZeniMax has started buying up a lot of other companies, like id Software. What's ZeniMax's acquisitions strategy? What's the goal?

The goal, when we started those conversations was just... This might go back to your original question. So Bethesda started as a '˜mom and pop' company, and it moved into this larger role in doing multiplatform stuff and not just being a small PC-centric developer-publisher. But what we always wanted to do and what we always felt was that we wanted to work on three to four big titles a year. That's it, that's all we want to do. We don't want to do twenty, we don't want to do thirty. We're not trying to branch and be big in casual games or social gaming. We want to make the kind of games that we like to play, because we think there's lots of other people who like those, and every time we put one out we want people to stand up and take notice and go: "I've got to play that game". So that's always been our philosophy.

When we started looking at other folks to work with, the conversation with id, for example, didn't start with: "Hey are you guys interested in being acquired?" It was just that we knew those guys. We'd see them at GDC or at E3 or whatever, we'd have conversations, we had a lot of respect for them. It was just a conversation: "Look we want to work with you guys in some capacity. What are you working on now? What are your future plans and is there some ability for us to work together?" And it started there but then as the conversation sort of grew and went back and forth it became: "Hey, listen, it kind of feels like it makes a lot more sense for us to join forces and become one company as opposed to doing just a one off thing here and there." And everyone felt like the development philosophies and the culture of the companies was a good fit and it seemed to make sense and they obviously gave us a lot of experience that we didn't necessarily have. These are the guys who invented the first person shooter genre. They've got amazing tech in idTech, they've got John Carmack, who is legendary, and they have a ton of other people over there who are really smart and good at what they do. Why wouldn't you bring them in and do it internally?