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ZeniMax Media Inc. is an American developer, marketer, publisher, and distributor of computer and video games. It is based in Rockville, Maryland.
ZeniMax is best known as the owner of Bethesda Softworks, the developer of The Elder Scrolls game series, as well as the Fallout series starting with Fallout 3, focused mainly on computer role playing games. It also owns other game development studios, such as the newly acquired id Software, and publishes games developed by third party developers.
ZeniMax was founded in 1999 by Bethesda Softworks founder Chris Weaver and Robert A. Altman. Weaver's vision was to use Bethesda Softworks as the basis to create a hybrid media company to create cross-media properties such as PC and console games; interactive TV; mobile; web and new media. Weaver invited Altman to help him run the new company, but potential investors were wary of Altman because of his previous involvement in the BCCI scandal as well as making new investments in the field. As part of the deal, Weaver, sole owner of Bethesda Softworks, contributed his stock so that the new shell company (Zenimax) would be able to obtain funding. Robert Altman installed himself as CEO and convinced Weaver to take the position of CTO — a move that ultimately resulted in Weaver being forced out by Altman in 2002. Although still the largest shareholder, Weaver no longer has any day-to-day responsibilities with Zenimax. Altman is still CEO.
Under ZeniMax, Bethesda developed and published The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Bethesda is also the publisher of 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 (PlayStation 2).
In 2004, ZeniMax acquired the Fallout franchise from Interplay Entertainment. Bethesda's 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 was released in October 2008.
On June 24, 2009, it was announced that ZeniMax had purchased independent developer id Software.