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id Software president leaves after 17 years

After 17 years at id software, president Todd Hollenshead has left the studio, publisher Bethesda has confirmed.

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After 17 years at id software, president Todd Hollenshead has left the studio, publisher Bethesda has confirmed. Hollenshead joined id in 1996 as CEO, but was moved to president when id was acquired by Zenimax Media in 2009.

"After many years with the studio, Todd Hollenshead decided to leave id Software to pursue other personal interests," Bethesda VP Pete Hines told IGN. "While Todd was not part of the development teams, he was an integral part of id Software's success as the business head of the studio and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors."

Hollenshead, known for his trademark long hair, has been a prominent figure at the studio, which has developed such hits as Doom, Quake and Rage. In April, Bethesda revealed that Doom 4 was being refocused and sent back to the drawing board.

The departure also comes as id and Bethesda prepare for another QuakeCon in Dallas on August 1-4, an event that Hollenshead has always attended as a speaker or presenter.

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From The Chatty

  • reply
    June 26, 2013 3:30 PM

    John Keefer posted a new article, id Software president leaves after 17 years.

    After 17 years at id software, president Todd Hollenshead has left the studio, publisher Bethesda has confirmed.

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 3:31 PM

      Oh shit, they're doomed.

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        June 26, 2013 4:02 PM

        This news must have made a huge quake at id.

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          June 26, 2013 4:07 PM

          I wouldn't be too keen on working there.

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          June 27, 2013 10:11 AM

          I'm not so keen on this so id rather not comment and make people rage

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 3:33 PM

      Quakecon in Dallas when?

      • reply
        June 26, 2013 3:41 PM

        Ha, I caught that, on "April 1-4"... well I think they have a lot of time to work around him not being there.

        In reality it's actually August 1-4.

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 3:34 PM

      Wow I saw him a few times at quakecon. This doesn't bode well for the former giant

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      June 26, 2013 3:37 PM

      He has such pretty hair

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 3:38 PM

      holy shit

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 3:40 PM

      this makes me sad

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      June 26, 2013 3:46 PM

      I imagine this means him and Cliff will form a new studio?

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        June 26, 2013 4:03 PM

        That would be the most PC-hardcore-gamer-antagonistic studio ever created, if you go by their 2008-era quotes.

        Todd Hollenshead, 2008: "I think that there's been this dirty little secret among hardware manufacturers, which is that the perception of free content--even if you're supposed to pay for it on PCs--is some sort hidden benefit that you get when you buy a PC, like a right to download music for free or a right to download pirated movies and games." http://www.shacknews.com/article/54322/id-pc-manufacturers-see-piracy

        Cliff Bleszinski, 2008: "For me, the PC is kind of the secondary part of what we’re doing. It's important for us, but right now making AAA games on consoles is where we're at. ... I think the PC is just in disarray. What's driving the PC right now is Sims-type games and [World of Warcraft] and a lot of stuff that’s in a web-based interface. You just click on it and play it. ThatÂ’s the direction PC is evolving into." http://www.shacknews.com/article/51354/epic-designer-says-pc-gaming

        Five years later, their tune has changed a little bit, but not that much.

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 3:58 PM

      Goodbye. Not good riddance; just goodbye.

      Maybe I shouldn't try to read the tea leaves too much, but I did complain for years, during the last year or two running up to Rage's release in October 2011, that Id Software seemed to be the Hollenshead and Willits show. A lot of the guidance of the company during 2008 onward went away from Id's classical core expertise of PC FPS. Rage released, and the best part of it WAS PC FPS, and to their credit, twin-stick controller FPS, with the quick-access weapon and ammo selection menu. But the heavy emphasis on Combat Rally, the exclusion of a multiplayer FPS component, all left a gap in that game, and left us fans wondering if Id would ever try to go back to those roots.

      Id Tech 5 could be a good engine, but Bethesda shot that company in the foot by mandating publishing rights for potential licensees, and megatexturing ended up being a bear, and a relic of a solution, for what ultimately could be approximated in real-time with 2013-era hardware.

      Id Software, though, is much more than just Todd Hollenshead or Tim Willits. However, it does need to get out of the yoke of Pete Hines and Zenimax in order to truly shine. Back when they were acquired, it seemed like it was so much better than ending up acquired by Activision or EA; looking back at it now, it's still better, but only very very slightly so.

      We'll have to see if there ever is another PC FPS game using Id Technology that lets you press ~ to drop down the developer console. I'd be okay with pigeonholing Doom 4 in order to get Quake 5 developed in 18 months with a streamlined Id Tech 5 running on Steamworks.

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        June 26, 2013 4:02 PM

        "megatexturing ended up being a bear, and a relic of a solution, for what ultimately could be approximated in real-time with 2013-era hardware. "

        Sorry, what? megatexturing is still a really interesting solution and the way they showed off the workflow tools is extremely desirable today and moving forward.

        Just because current consoles for when Rage was released couldn't keep up with it, doesn't make it necessarily a bear.

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          June 26, 2013 4:03 PM

          as a layman wasn't the new directx 11.2 supposed to support stuff like this natively? Seems he was just ahead of the curve.

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            June 26, 2013 4:11 PM

            it does and was demonstrated today at build as part of the new DX

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          June 26, 2013 4:07 PM

          Megatexturing was slow on the PC as well, took up a ton of storage space, and made asset generation so much harder. It slowed down the release of the Rage mod toolset (released in February 2013, 16 months after the game, and a whopping 35 GB in size: http://www.shacknews.com/article/77761/rage-tool-kit-available-today ).

          Many argue that it's not worth the excessive asset storage space and slowdown, except for large landscapes with no repeating texture patterns (which I admit was a really nice thing to see when driving across the Rage wasteland... but that was about the only prominent good part of megatexturing that I remember).

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            June 26, 2013 5:58 PM

            There are still places where you can see tiling on the terrain. So basically you are getting nothing from megatexture.

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          June 26, 2013 5:42 PM

          The market has spoken about what was desirable in workflow tools. It wasn't id tech.

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          June 26, 2013 5:44 PM

          No one cares about it.

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          June 26, 2013 6:27 PM

          idtech 5 is broken. there is nothing useful about it. i cant remember another game that caused mass refunds to be requested on steam. it literally didnt function on a huge portion of the PC platform. whatever technical innovations lie in the code are vastly overshadowed by its problems, and now its desecrated reputation.

          and megatexturing was used on the doom 3 engine many years before it was ever in use on RAGE. its not a new technology, just one that Carmack fixated on and tried to build a game engine around.

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            June 27, 2013 12:10 AM

            It was shitty AMD graphics drivers that caused mass refunds, but people tend to place the blame squarely on id. I had an NVIDIA card and had zero issues at launch, as did many other people. There were known issues with the AMD drivers that they promised would get fixed for the launch of Rage that didn't get fixed until well after launch. Somehow AMD was ignored and everyone piled onto id for no really good reason. Then people decided to be jerks and demand refunds even after they were told that it would be fixed with a new driver release (which AMD ended up delaying, iirc).

            Megatexturing is a fascinating concept and I'm really looking forward to seeing what's been done with it in the new Wolfenstein game. The animation support in Tech 5 was amazing and it ran blazing fast while still looking spectacular. The main problem with Rage was the game itself, not the engine. The game was just not good. Shooting things was great (best feeling guns in ages) but the game was boring as shit.

            Basically, an otherwise technically intriguing engine got a bad rap because AMD fucked up and the game built on it was mediocre at best.

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              June 27, 2013 12:46 AM

              That's not completely true because once AMD put out new drivers, the game still produced texture streaming issues. AMD's main bug was the model corruption. The auto-settings that id software had built into RAGE just did not function properly. I had to manually mess around with config files to eliminate the problem. No in game settings fixed it, barely any in game settings to mention. id software should share the blame for the problem.

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                June 27, 2013 1:53 AM

                They also released the game knowing there was a problem with the drivers.

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                  June 27, 2013 3:31 AM

                  Any sensible business decision would have been to engage the vendor (AMD) and closely work with them to correct the issue leading up to release. I imagine id Software offered some assistance, but mostly sat by waiting for AMD to correct the problem in their drivers.

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        June 26, 2013 5:35 PM

        Do you know anything about the people you are talking about?

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        June 27, 2013 1:51 AM

        I think id's problems are far deeper than that. They're an incredibly dated company, that even when they're making an extreme effort to catch up and stay abreast of modern game design they manage to release something like Rage that felt like a relic upon its release.

        Valve have done nothing since Quake that gives you any sense they understand anything in game design beyond fast multiplayer DM.

        There is nothing wrong with fast multiplayer DM, but i think its silly pretending id are going to be even tangentially involved in pushing the FPS genre forward in the future. Even technologically, they aren't event relevant anymore.

      • reply
        June 27, 2013 2:32 AM

        All pc COD games have the quake console.

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          June 27, 2013 5:12 AM

          I seem to remember MW2 killing it off, and the at-the-time IW leadership actively antagonizing anyone asking for that feature. It was brought back in multiplayer-only for CoD:BLOPS. I don't know firsthand since then, because I haven't bought a CoD game since then.

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      June 26, 2013 4:04 PM

      Can we say they really were doing well these past few years? I don't think so. Time for some new blood.

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        June 26, 2013 4:09 PM

        On the contrary, turnover may be part of why Id has been declining in the past year, after the Rage sequel / DLC cancellation, and the "Just do Doom 4" mandate from Bethesda.

        Either way, we're not going to hear a single thing about it, aside from what Bethesda PR wants to present to the public, because that's how a privately-held company runs. It's going to be either an interesting QuakeCon this year, or an awkwardly silent one.

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        June 26, 2013 4:11 PM

        That's Monolith though.

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          June 26, 2013 4:20 PM

          Oh, Monolith. It was worse for them, though. Warner Brothers acquired them in 2004; FEAR was great, but then the sequel wasn't, and the studio pumped out Gotham City Impostors on Games for Windows Live, to tepid reception. That game was later converted to free-to-play on Steamworks in 2012, and released a Lord of the Rings MOBA titled "Guardians of Middle Earth" at the end of 2012.

          Damn; between Epic going full-Gears and burning out on that, Raven getting farmed into a Call of Duty assist studio, Id's Rage decline, and Valve not having released a first-person SHOOTER since 2009 (single-player since 2007), the old guard of PC FPS developers is dying off, with almost no other developers taking the helm.

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 4:23 PM

      Things change, perhaps for the best.

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      June 26, 2013 4:57 PM

      'nuff said, I guess. = (

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      June 26, 2013 4:58 PM

      Daaaaaang...

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      June 26, 2013 5:12 PM

      dang. here's hoping quake 5 with RA5 and CTF and DM will somehow emerge for one last hurrah.

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        June 26, 2013 5:47 PM

        This would make me very happy. Just do a balls to the wall crazy fast and intense deathmatch. Powerful weapons, movement tricks to get going fast as hell, awesome maps, etc.

        Its what id did best, better than anyone else. Quake was to FPS games what Starcraft was to the RTS or the Street Fighter series was to fighting games.

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        June 27, 2013 4:20 AM

        This is what they should have done instead of Rage.

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 5:32 PM

      I want to hear about Carmack making another shooter.

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        June 26, 2013 6:05 PM

        I think he is the reason id is where they are. Smart guy but no management skills yet muddling around with everything within the company. After reading masters of doom, I just got baffled by how he was portrayed. Of course heresy etc but still.

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          June 26, 2013 6:57 PM

          Yeah, it seems like iD was at its best when Romero was there because he was such an opposite personality wise from Carmack that they balanced each other out. Romero's craziness and design focus offset by Carmack's rigid but technically brilliant coding. Carmack just outlasted Romero in the industry because he made good engines that iD could license out to make money.

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            June 26, 2013 7:36 PM

            For all his flaws, I'm pretty much convinced Romero was the soul in their games. Or at least a big part of it.

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              June 26, 2013 8:05 PM

              Romero was the soul, (John) Carmack was the brains, Hall was the heart, Adrian (Carmack) was the drummer.

              (sorry, I had to make someone the drummer, and he fit pretty well since he joined pretty early on in the Softdisk days as I remember from reading about it and he was valuable but never vital IMHO).

            • reply
              June 26, 2013 8:17 PM

              this is what I have been saying for a long time now.

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              June 26, 2013 8:28 PM

              all the soul in the world didn't help daikatana. So i'm calling BS

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                June 26, 2013 8:29 PM

                That's because it needed direction and discipline. Two sides of the same coin

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                  June 26, 2013 8:37 PM

                  I see what you're saying but Daikatana was pretty lame. Many games have had soul with inferior engines but Daikatana wasn't one of them.

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                    June 26, 2013 8:48 PM

                    That's only part of the equation though. Soul alone does not necessarily make a good game, you need the other core components there too, which is where it failed.

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                    June 26, 2013 8:57 PM

                    Daikatana was a mess mostly because it was mismanaged...Romero needed a leash, he needed limits, and he needed someone else running things.

                    Carmack is a guy who can actually function in that position...but he's not going to be the dominant creative force...someone else will end up filling that role or it will be a void.

                    Daikatana was the result of game design via manic hyperactive man-child. Quake 3 was the result of game design via autistic super-sperg robot. Q3 was by a huge margin a better game...but it felt so damned clinical and clean...it lacked the soul of something like DOOM or Q1. That said, you could actually play Quake 3...and Quake 3 still holds up quite well today...Daikatana never held up.

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                June 27, 2013 9:34 AM

                Guns N' Roses circa 1987 was the greatest band on the face of the earth. Appetite for Destruction is in contention for the best hard rock record ever.

                In the years since the members have disbanded and done other things but none of them have come close to that time. Slash does his thing but it's just not as good as the work he did with Guns N' Roses. Axl hired a bunch more guys but it's just not the same without Slash. None of the solo work from the Beatles could approach what they did back in the day.

                Carmack and Romero were the Axl and Slash of the gaming world. Or the John Lennon and Paul McCartney if you prefer. Carmack is still the man when it comes to development but he's the engineer and Romero's the artist.

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            June 26, 2013 7:51 PM

            Carmack and Co. had good reason to be pissed at Romero. Lots of ideas, but unable to get them working and eventually his coworkers lost faith in him. Sad. They probably should have just moved him into a PR role, since he seemed to enjoy that but from what I've read, that wasn't how they rolled and he would have ended up selling a lot of vaporware to the fans anyway.

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              June 26, 2013 7:52 PM

              And yet he ended up being the most successful of the lot and launched Deus Ex.

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                June 26, 2013 8:04 PM

                Uhhh, no. Warren Spector and Harvey Smith were Deus Ex (Ion Storm Austin). John Romero was Daikatana (Ion Storm Dallas).

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                June 26, 2013 8:08 PM

                And almost sunk Eidos with Daikatana. Not sure how involved he was with DX other than "design is god".

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            June 26, 2013 8:09 PM

            Yeah...id could function without Romero, but not without Carmack. That having been said, I think they lost something without Romero...I love Q2 and Q3...but Q2 was a slow-ass weird game that had a whole host of issues...and Quake3, while pretty damned solid, was also bland as hell compared to Q1 and even Q2 (Q3 was the better game compared to Q2...but Q2 never felt bland to me...it had lots of issues but it was never fucking bland).

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            June 26, 2013 8:42 PM

            iD != id. It's 2013. Why is this still happening.

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 5:37 PM

      Zombie companie running on vapors loses another staff member, nothing to see here.

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        June 26, 2013 5:48 PM

        id was acquired 5-24-2009, almost exactly 4 years to the day today. It could mean some contractual thing just expired, which might mean there will be others with the same contractual agreement. If you add up 5 and 24 and 2009, it's 2038. If you add up 2 + 0 + 3 + 8, it's 13.

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        June 27, 2013 9:22 AM

        He's so sad he has a tear coming out of his eye

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      June 26, 2013 7:49 PM

      Man.. id is just so... none-existent these days. Ive yet to even play Rage..

      I would love to see another brilliant IP come from them. I just dun think its gonna happen.

      • reply
        June 26, 2013 8:01 PM

        Rage wasn't bad, actually it is very well polished. It was just the wrong product for the wrong group in a setting gamers were burnt out on (by that same publisher).

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      June 26, 2013 8:20 PM

      I would stand 100% behind a new startup with Carmack and Romero at the helm. Throw in Adrian, Tom and McGee and I don't care if it's not DooM or Quake, those games would 0WNNNN!!!!!!!

      I'm living in a fantasy world here.

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        June 26, 2013 8:23 PM

        I don't know if JC would want to work with Adrian after the drama that went down.

        I think everybody else is on pretty good terms these days...maybe the two Carmacks (no relation) have buried the hatchet as well...but I'm pretty sure the two Johns have from everything I've heard/read.

        • reply
          June 26, 2013 9:19 PM

          What happened between the 2 Carmacks actually? I remember the lawsuit, and Adrian leaving id, but couldnt seem to find out what was going there, and how the lawsuit concluded.

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 8:22 PM

      I think id's problem is that they've never figured out their place in this current age of game making and they've been trying to do what they feel they're supposed to do. It feels like a less obvious version of 3DRs issues with DNF...that was a game that was trying to do all the things that were popular through various stages of its development and it just didn't pull them off.

      I've felt that with DOOM3 and Rage...id has been trying to do the big popular thing...they want to be a big AAA developer doing what the other big AAA fps devs are doing and I think they've lost their way and their ability to carve out their own territory.

      DOOM3 was weird in that it had one foot in the past, in what id did well...but not enough for that stuff to actually work well, and it had another foot in this other place...trying to be Half Life or a survival horror game, and it just didn't pull that stuff off very well for the most part (it came close early on in the game...but they didn't deliver on that promise and I'm not sure if they knew how to).

      I think id needs to either do what they used to do best (if they still can) or they need to find a project that really love and want to play regardless of whether its a sure thing or even remotely likely to succeed and just hammer away at that because of the love...one of those two. Because id of the last few years hasn't felt like a company that is doing what it loves...its heart just hasn't been in it...and its certainly not felt like a company doing what it does best. It feels more like they're trying to do what they're "supposed to do" to succeed. I don't know if that's the case, but it feels that way these days with them. Maybe DOOM4 is the project they really want to do, or maybe its the project that best fits their talents...I don't know yet as I don't know jack-shit about DOOM4...maybe if it doesn't go well, they should get a small team together to do a very focused very small scale Quake 5...hell maybe they should be doing that already. Go oldschool with it...have a good oldschool atmospheric single player campaign ala Painkiller, and put a lot of effort into the single player...make it the most violent, fastest, most hardcore DM id can make...make the best most satisfying DM around...the speed and brutality of Quake1, the feature set of Quake 3, great fucking graphics that please the eye but don't get in the way of the game, the fun of DOOM...pitch it to Bethesda along the lines of "hey wouldn't you like to have your own Starcraft...something that is THE standard for competitive gaming in a genre...we used to be that...hell QLive still is that in a half-assed half-hearted sort of way...would you like us to do that". That's what I'd love to see them do...but I don't see that happening.

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      June 26, 2013 8:23 PM

      that sucks...

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      June 26, 2013 9:21 PM

      vested

      • reply
        June 26, 2013 11:09 PM

        yep, i bet he received his last set of payments a couple of days ago.

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        June 27, 2013 10:18 AM

        Yeah we're scrutinizing the heck out of this but it could just all be as simple as he cashed out and retired. People who have gaming as a big part of their lives can't understand why anyone would ever try to retire from the gaming industry.

    • reply
      June 27, 2013 2:31 AM

      I feel truly old reading this. I remember when he joined ID. Can't believe I loved there games that long ago. I keep waiting to hear this group breaker up for good.

      I am in Thailand and caught a thirty minute tv show devoted solely to quake with a live ctf game of quake3 with commentators. Called gamer.now, it was really cool and game me that quake itch again. Loved there games so much but I can't even remember there last game title it was so unmemorable and they keep failing at bringing back doom and quake so sad.

      Come on carmack make the best engine ever again and quit getting owned by unreal,engine.

    • reply
      June 27, 2013 3:30 AM

      Well fuck; that is weird. I don't see him leaving id like that without notice.. Doesn't bode well. Hard to say exactly, not being on the inside and all but; but from the outside it looks like either 1) He was politely 'let go'. or 2) he was in serious disagreement totally pissed at Zenimax & co and the way things are headed...

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      June 27, 2013 3:39 AM

      good, now bring back Romero and it will be perfect

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      June 27, 2013 8:53 AM

      what about QuakeCon? crap Todd.....

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      June 27, 2013 9:20 AM

      Wow that's pretty interesting. I remembered talking to him at quakecon right before doom 3 came out I think a few shackers old school were there also and I was pushing him for more information on the gameplay aspects of Doom vs this obvious focus on the graphical elements and how I was much more interested in what gameplay elements we're going to be there to keep it true to the Doom franchise. He wasn't too up on that conversation insisting that the graphics we're what pushes the video game industry which is one way of thinking. He stood there and talked beer in hand very respectfully for probably 15 minutes just to us shackers about doom 3 and despite our disagreement on how the video game industry should be headed I always found that to be very cool of Todd.

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      June 27, 2013 12:17 PM

      is there anyone more metal in the industry? throwback character without a doubt, you could literally photoshop old metallica and megadeth posters on a bedroom wall around him and it wouldnt look out of place with that grimace