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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  • This bit is fantastic news:

    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."

    Could it be that we’ll finally get a decent deathmatch game from Id? I was really excited about Doom 3 because I thought it would revive the online deathmatch community but when I got the game I found the multiplayer was nothing short of a sick joke. Fortunately there was still Quake 4 to look forward to and after seeing a video of the deathmatch mode I was thoroughly excited. Sadly the game itself turned out to be buggy as hell and had no decent maps and it took about two years to fix, by which time most players had given up. Unable to learn my lesson I once again got really excited when Quake Zero was announced since I thought Id had finally decided to pay some attention to the deathmatch community. When I got on the closed beta in early 2008 I found it was just Quake 3 in a browser with no new maps, no mods and no community maps. At this point I started wondering if Id were intentionally taking the piss out of their fans.

    It’s great news that they’ve given up on Quake Live since it has been a total disaster. I’m not sure why they thought people would want to play a ten year old game again just because this time around it was in a browser, but from the number of regular players it’s apparent that very few people did want to play it. When he said Quake Live “had less than a dozen people” I wasn’t sure if he was talking about developers or regular players :)

    Most casual gamers took one look at the graphics, concluded the game was crap and never made it any further than the training match with Crash. With dated graphics and no retail hype it just couldn’t bring in the players and it was obvious that it wouldn’t make money. I’ve been saying for over a year that they should give up on QL and concentrate on the Rage multiplayer since the pretty graphics and hype surrounding the game will make it much more likely to succeed and build up a large online community. It looks like they’ve finally seen sense and hopefully will now put some effort into Rage multiplayer, with a load of new maps, bug free code and great gameplay. With arQon on board surely this time it has to work!

    After three colossal disappointments and a decade of nothing but total shit from Id Software you’d expect me to learn my lesson and give up hope now but once again they’ve managed to get me quite excited. If Rage multiplayer disappoints...well I’m sorry but it’s going to have to be a suicide bombing :)

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