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."