John Carmack makes first appearance at QuakeCon in over a decade

Carmack went through legal issues with ZeniMax and Bethesda that kept him away from events like QuakeCon for years.


QuakeCon 2023 returned in physical form this last weekend. However, one thing that was entirely unexpected was the presence of John Carmack, id Software alumni and one of the key programmers on the Quake franchise. Carmack had been away from QuakeCon for years after a falling out and legal issues when id Software was acquired by Bethesda, but this year he made his return and even participated in the event with an impromptu meet-and-greet.

Carmack shared word of his participation in QuakeCon via his personal Twitter over the weekend.

“My first QuakeCon in a decade! I’m so happy that everything is cool now and I am welcome,” Carmack wrote. “I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with a post-COVID, no general admission event, but the BYOC was packed, and the energy was high even on day 3.”

John Carmack went on to share that as he was being greeted by fans, QuakeCon staff also took notice of the matter and quickly helped create a line queue for meeting, take pictures with, and getting autographs from Carmack.

John Carmack tweets about QuakeCon 2023
John Carmack was not only on the floor at QuakeCon 2023, but held an impromptu meet-and-greet with the help of the staff and attended the Quake Champions tournament.
Source: John Carmack

John Carmack and QuakeCon were separated as his relationship with id Software soured following its acquisition by Bethesda and ZeniMax. Carmack would eventually leave id Software for Oculus, claiming that ZeniMax would not let games he had been designing appear on Oculus VR headsets. ZeniMax would eventually sue Oculus, claiming Oculus stole its virtual reality IP. Carmack was eventually found not to be liable in the lawsuit, but he would sue ZeniMax in turn for $22.5 million USD. Carmack claimed the sum was owed, but not paid to him when ZeniMax acquired id Software. The two would eventually settle out of court.

It's nice to see that times have healed wounds enough for Carmack to be back at QuakeCon and taking part in the festivities. John Romero has also been active, and though Carmack claims he and Romero are not doing anything new in gaming right now, at least friendly conversations are happening again. Stay tuned for more coverage as new updates drop.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 14, 2023 7:48 AM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, John Carmack makes first appearance at QuakeCon in over a decade

    • reply
      August 14, 2023 12:49 PM

      It was awesome. He let people come talk with him a bit and take their picture. I was in the line early so I didn't wait long. I thanked him for creating the games that literally changed my life forever as a teenager. He was very humble and appreciative. Really cool of him to take some time and just talk with people

      • reply
        August 14, 2023 12:51 PM

        That's awesome. He used to hang around and just chat with people out in the hall in prior years.
        In some ways that part was more interesting than his stage talk.

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      August 14, 2023 3:45 PM

      So maybe a small talk next year? Yes?

    • reply
      August 14, 2023 8:26 PM

      I talked to him! Someone had gifted me a 3d-print of Shub-niggurath, and he signed it.

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