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Bethesda Parent ZeniMax Acquires id Software
Bethesda Parent ZeniMax Acquires id Software
June 24, 2009 | By Chris Remo

June 24, 2009 | By Chris Remo
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id Software, the longstanding independent developer behind Doom and Quake, has been acquired by ZeniMax media, the parent company of developer and publisher Bethesda Softworks.

Bethesda will publish all further unsigned titles from id, likely including its shooter sequel Doom 4. EA Partners has already been announced as the publisher for racing/FPS hybrid Rage.

Creator of the Elder Scrolls series and now owner of the Fallout franchise, Bethesda is one of the industry's best-known RPG developers -- and its profile has been steadily rising in recent years on the back of its enormously successful The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3.

Mesquite, Texas-based id Software was founded in 1991 and largely defined the first-person shooter genre with Wolfenstein 3D. It influenced the genre as well as engine technology across the industry even more greatly with its landmark Doom and Quake series.

Bethesda has long been respected as a developer, but today's move is the latest in a string of actions that has seen Bethesda and ZeniMax step up their efforts in the publishing arena. Bethesda now publishes its own titles, and has been partnering with bigger names in development for third-party publishing.

The company's acquisition of the Fallout franchise from Interplay was also a significant addition to its holdings.

No dollar value was assigned to the id acquisition, but it is likely to be bigger than Bethesda's recent deals.

The move does not affect id's existing publishing agreements, such as the EA Partners deal or Activision's plans to publish the id-produced, Raven-developed Wolfenstein.

Bethesda and id share an interesting link when it comes to partner studios: London-based independent studio Splash Damage was founded by modders of id's Quake III Arena, and id gave the company its big break by contracting it to create the free Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, and later the retail title Quake Wars: Enemy Territory. Now, the company's next big game, the ambitious single-player/multiplayer/cooperative shooter Brink, is being published by Bethesda.

As a subsidiary, id will "continue to operate as a studio under the direction of its founder, John Carmack," Bethesda said in a statement, adding that "no changes will be made in the operations of id Software in the development of its games."

Said id CEO Todd Hollenshead, "This was a unique opportunity to team with a smart, sophisticated publisher like Bethesda Softworks where the interests of the studio and the publisher will be fully aligned in the development and marketing of our titles. In addition, we will now have financial and business resources to support the future growth of id Software, a huge advantage which will result in more and even better games for our fans."

id's principal employees, certain to include Hollenshead and Carmack, have also signed long-term contracts guaranteeing their tenure at the company for an unspecified period of time.

Carmack said, "We will now be able to grow and extend all of our franchises under one roof, leveraging our capabilities across multiple teams while enabling forward looking research to be done in the service of all of them. We will be bigger and stronger, as we recruit the best talent to help us build the landmark games of the future. As trite as it may be for me to say that I am extremely pleased and excited about this deal, I am."


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Comments


Andrew Dobbs
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zuh?

brandon sheffield
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that's nutso. not many more big independent studios left...

Ken Love
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I'm not so sure this is that big of a deal, really. Id takes forever to generate a title and at a pretty big expense too. With their past / present publishers, they take the dough up front and in the rear, so...



With them now being owned by someone else, it wouldn't surprise me if people start jumping ship. Maybe not incredibly soon, but.. probably once the new owner gets tired of waiting for a return on their investment and tries to tighten their wallets, then yeah.. sit back 'n' watch.



Lot's of other good developer doing stuff just as good as Id, if not.. in some small cases.. even better and at less cost too. If Id does keep on trucking and making good titles that are cost and time effective.. "Good for them." 4 Years is a long time to wait for a title.

Yannick Boucher
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Wow... I DARE anyone to say they saw that one coming... !

Yannick Boucher
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(btw Brandon... don't Bethesda/Zenimax already kinda count as independent? In my book, they do...)

Tom Newman
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Part of me cringes at these mergers, but this one seems like a good fit. I wish them the best!

Maurício Gomes
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NOOOOOOOOOOOO



Now Bethesda can bug Carmack do not release its sources when he want to do so :(



This may mean no Doom 3 sourcecode :( No source to its awesome lightning stuff :(



Also, Bethesda may decide to do something bizarre... What will happen if Bethesda forces ID to do non-FPS games? OMG!!! Or if they turn ID into a engine churner to replace the crappy engine that they use since Morrowind? Well... That may mean less buggy bethesda games...



But what totally scares the crap out of me, is if ID become bad programmers like bethesda!!! Or worse, if ID become windows/xbox only and start to use windows game live and release crappy patches!!!

brandon sheffield
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Yannick - quiet you!

I suppose self-publishing still makes you independent, but the definition is really getting pushed, these days.

Andrew Dobbs
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As far as surprising...Bethesda was already working with Splash Damage, so there is history there.

Yannick Boucher
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Hahahaha! Self-publishing these days, dude, that's a BIG feat! ;) (who distributes, though?)

(and yes, I AM aware of who's on Zenimax's board... it's anything but indie in that respect, if that's what you mean...)

Oliver Snyders
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I can't see this event pressuring Carmack to stop doing what he's always done, but if he does stop talking freely at QuakeCon and in interviews, and id Software stop releasing source, that will be tragic.

Benjamin Quintero
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Say it ain't so...



I have a feeling that QuakeCon is going to start to look and sound much more corporate and will likely be an avenue to push all Bethesda games and not just id Software. JohnC will likely become more tight-lipped in his keynotes; as he is no longer at the top of the totem, and yes the open source movement will likely dwindle. Games will likely have faster turn-around now with larger teams at their disposal, but there may likely be game design decisions that roll down from above now.



Big company business as usual; I kind of always hoped that id Software would stay away from that, but it was inevitable I suppose. Their games always had a certain minimalist garage developer charm to them that was unique. That is very likely to change now.



Doom4 will become an open world, turn-based, MMO, GTA clone, where you ride sidesaddle on a Pinky mount across Azerothoom and farm souls to upgrade your BFG. Okay maybe that's a bit stretched. Here's hoping nothing will change for the worse, cheers.

Paul Lazenby
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Wow, this is a major risky move. id is notorious for being unmanageable, and the term "it will be done when it's done" translates to "we'll continue to bleed money as long as we please."

Couple that with the facat that the Doom and Quake franchises are not the pedigree they once were, and then look at the disaster that was Enemy Territory Quake Wars. So now Spash Damage and id are under the same roof? Scary.

More interesting is that both Activision and EA couldn't come to an agreement with id, and both of them have much deeper pockets than Bethesda. So what gives?

I wish them luck, but they need a lot more than that. I hope that Bethesda has the management skills to handle these guys, they will need every ounce of skill they can find.

Yannick Boucher
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Doesn't Bethesda already have the same mentality? To me seems like a good fit... iD's not really "bleeding money", they're taking their time to get stuff out, but once it's out, they clean up...



And you want Activision or EA with deep pockets, or you want them to stay "indie" ? Gotta make up our minds, here... if anything, being with Bethesda as publishers might give them even MORE creative flexibility than the deals they were signing with Activision and EA...

Adam Saltsman
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LOL I love press releases :D I love that this quote:



Carmack said, "We will now be able to grow and extend all of our franchises under one roof, leveraging our capabilities across multiple teams while enabling forward looking research to be done in the service of all of them. We will be bigger and stronger, as we recruit the best talent to help us build the landmark games of the future. As trite as it may be for me to say that I am extremely pleased and excited about this deal, I am."



Is attributed to JC of all people. He definitely strikes me as the kind of guy to claim that this would benefit "all of our franchises under one roof, leveraging our capabilities across multiple teams while enabling forward looking research to be done" :P



Still, it this is basically funding more wonderful Carmack science experiments than who can gripe?

Michiel Hendriks
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This could be interesting. I haven't played a Bethesda game I haven't like/enjoyed, but I also haven't played a Bethesda game that wasn't riddled with bugs. I'm hoping Bethesda will benefit from the tech side of id Software. I don't know what I could expect from id Software from this deal. Rage was the first game since Doom that really interested me.

Paul Lazenby
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Hmmm... maybe bleeding was too strong. How about "hemmoraging"?

Quake Wars is a prime example. It was delayed by 2 years after it was originally announced to ship while id and Splash Damage continued to refine it.

The end result was mediocre gameplay that was supposed to be wrapped in extremely advanced graphics for the time, but a few years late and it was just so-so.

And the sales? Take a look. They were anemic. So no one 'cleaned up' on that one, and neither Doom3 nor Quake 4 were the massive sellers that id used to produce.

Possibly this match with Bethesda is just what they need, but I think it may be Doom

steve roger
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Sounds like certain Id owners needed a golden parachute.

Dave Endresak
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Very interesting...! ^_^



Well, this could certainly wind up being a negative thing for both companies, of course, but that's true no matter where you go or what you do. Both of them certainly have talent of various kinds; it's merely a question of whether or not they can actually match up what they have in a complementary way plus acquire new talent to fix what they don't have (aesthetically pleasing character models, for one thing... humans and humanoid, that is, not the monsters).



Taking an optomistic outlook, meshing one of the best RPG makers with the classic FPS maker might allow them to strengthen the overall efforts in both areas.



I'll add that the GameByro engine that Bethesda used for Morrowind and Oblivion seems to be one of the most robust, flexible engines on the market, at least as far as mainstream releases are concerned. Bethesda's games have bugs simply because they are so incredibly complex. id, on the other hand, tends to have games that are very straightforward and simple in comparison, although that can be said for almost any FPS compared to an RPG, in my view. Bugs in id's games seem to be more on a purely technical level rather than unforeseen interactions of various elements within the games themselves.



In any event, I'd say this is certainly well worth watching, at least as much as the Square-Enix / Eidos merger.

Maarten Heintz
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I think this deal lets Carmack pursue his ambitions in mobile gaming for Id without having to siphon development resources from the kinds of games that made his company great, as Zenimax will be providing all the resources he needs to de both things. On the other side of the coin, Zenimax strengthens its development for the mobile platform and gains a very strong brandname. In addition, they gain a strong technology partner for their future games in general.



See, if Carmack keeps working on engines, I'd expect him to be heavily involved with creating that next generation of the Gamebryo engine. However, if he ends up focusing all his efforts on mobile platforms (which isn't looking that unlikely), I'd expect Id's first project to be an experimental adaption of whatever the post-Fallout3 Gamebryo engine will be, for FPS games. And maybe, Carmack will just end up doing both. God knows he's more than capable of it.

UGOCHUKWU OKONKWO
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NOOOOOOO!!!! Always had a softspot for Id software. I love that company. Now they are another man's property. Pity.

UGOCHUKWU OKONKWO
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I just hope they are right about Id contiuing to function as a studio without direction from above. Only then will this be for the better.

David Tarris
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You people really bring out the eye-rolls these days. Honestly, QuakeCon becoming an Elder Scrolls pep rally, ID Software going corporate and having their games ruined? It's almost as though no one's aware Blizzard is owned by Activision and somehow Blizzcon is still about Blizzard. This doesn't change anything for gamers, and as "game developers" you should all see the practicality in such a move.

Sander van Rossen
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"Blizzard is owned by Activision"



Wasn't it a merger of sorts?

Maurício Gomes
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To guy that said that carmack will work on gamebryo: You know that gamebryo is not owned by Bethesda right? They only license it...



To guy that said taht bethesda games are buggy because they are complex: That is partially true, but Bethesda is known to have several idiotic bugs, I see sometimes people complaining that they are complaning about some bug since Gamebryo was named Netimmerse, and the bug remains (mainly because some stuff is not fixable by bethesda, and some stuff bethesda suck to code...)

Tyler Peters
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The relevancy of id passed away nearly a decade ago, so this is really all-for-not.

Maarten Heintz
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You're right, that did sound completely wrong. While I did know that Gamebryo was a licensed engine, I didn't think of it when I wrote that. However, my general point still stands. I fully expect Carmack to lend his expertise to either adapting a future version of Gamebryo for Bethesda's future projects (I doubt they use Gamebryo out of the box), or even be the catalyst for Bethesda to decide to develop something of their own.


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