id's John Carmack Explains ZeniMax Acquisition, Discusses Future Plans

By Chris Faylor, Jun 25, 2009 9:39am PDT Following the surprising news that Bethesda parent company ZeniMax had acquired legendary developer id, the studio has issued a lengthy statement explaining the reasons behind the acquisition and shed some light on its plans for growth.

"We will add a third major development team," id co-founder John Carmack told VentureBeat, noting that the Doom and Rage developer "already had a plan in place."

Carmack explained that the Quake Live team, "which had less than a dozen people," will work with id's other two major teams on multiplayer for Rage and Doom 4 as an "intermediate step" to "get familiar with our technology there."

Following that, the team will be assigned one of id's "main intellectual properties," a catalog that includes Quake, Doom, Wolfenstein and Commander Keen.

"It's not clear what that [property] is," said Carmack. "That's all we wanted: three teams. It's not as if we wanted to create four, five and six teams. We have two teams doing big titles now. We have our mobile teams doing other work. But we'll add that third major team over a period of time that we can foresee."

id currently has 105 employees, Carmack adding that the "ramp up" won't take place this year. "We will continue to look for the best talent," he vowed.

In addition, Carmack revealed that while the studio had "early offers" for the Rage publishing rights, to the tune of "X million dollars," id instead chose to keep self-funding the game until it was "far into development."

"When we finally signed a deal," he said, "it was X plus $10 million."

Carmack also spoke on the conditions that lead to the ZeniMax acquisition:

ZeniMax came with an offer. The more we looked at it, the more we liked it. The two obvious choices [of id buyers] were Electronic Arts and Activision. They're the two giants of the industry. But we knew that we would have to go through big corporate changes if we went with them. We know the developers at the studios owned by those companies. And while they have good things to say, there is no doubt about it that things would change at a company of that scale. If we had gone to one of those companies, we would be one more studio. We would be a prized studio. But we wouldn't even be their only shooter studio. We would be competing for resources with our brother and sister studios. There is no question if they have Call of Duty project, there would be some degree of conflict there.

With ZeniMax, they have a lot to be proud of. Fallout 3 is one of the favorite games of so many of our people. But they had zero overlap with the things we do. We do the best shooters in the world. It's a perfect hand and glove fit. We started talking about this before they rolled out Fallout 3. We watch them roll it out worldwide. They really did what they said they could do. That was a important in how we looked at this. They resurrected an old title and really made something big out of it. We could be a sister company with Bethesda, where we had a lot of mutual respect and admiration. That was about as good as it could get. And we could do our games the same way we have been. The corporate cultures are compatible. And when we go out to publish the games, now we will be doing that. We can become a publisher through ZeniMax.

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    id Software joining creators of Oblivion and Fallout3, Bethesda Softworks..

    Wow.. thats going to a brilliant clash of game world interface, and interesting gunplay..
    id software never made any RPGs but.. they have made first person shooters what they are today, by developing the first quake engine... Unreal wasn't ever.. as clever with the Game engine dynamics as the Quake engineers were..

    I cant wait to see what these two developer teams work up..

    Berthesda Softworks always have made games with a whole bunch of user interaction, being able to scavenge wonder around giant worlds that always focused into adaptive gameplay.. That type of gameplay is basically like RPG style, that you are able to play your part in the game, to how you like..

    Even though both oblivion and fallout had a very clever first person mode, but acquiring id software developers. Will only make their game graphics, and first person game interface far more alluring to the quick paced first person shooters out there.. like myself..

    I'm really wondering what games are going to be first to take this first renovation step..

  • I love the Carmack. I am certain that to people without a work ethic he does indeed come across as a psychopath, but there had been a fairly large thread of "hey we're making video games, let's spend half the week screwing around and playing ping-pong" sentiment running through the industry. He recognized that hard work was going to be required to survive, and he has little patience with underlings who want to grab a piece of the success of id while not earning their place.

    With that said, he still comes across as a bit of an empathy-lite kind of guy. If they make a movie out of Masters of Doom, I suggest they hire 1980's James Spader to play Carmack, since he was always excellent at playing the detached, arrogant sociopath. As far as work ethic goes, he's my kind of guy.

    ... Says the dude posting on a gaming site from his office, instead of working.