Carmack, Hollenshead Explain Why id Was Sold

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id CEO Todd Hollenshead and Technical Director John Carmack say the increasing difficultly of operating as an independent developer ultimately led to the studio’s acquisition by Bethesda parent ZeniMax Media.

id revealed earlier today that it had been bought by Bethesda Softworks parent ZeniMax Media, a move Carmack told Kotaku was necessitated by the increasing desire of publishers to direct development resources toward internal studios and fully-owned IPs. “As we were shopping Rage and Doom and upcoming stuff, talking about all of that, we were getting a pretty consistent line from all the publishers,” he said. “They were willing to continue to fund our working with partner companies for all of these but pretty much every publisher said, ‘Well, it would be worth much more to us if you would grow your studio and do more of your own work internally.'”

“Going back to a much earlier time, we were just Activision’s shooter shop. We did the FPSes there. There was no conflict, and that was great,” he continued. “But they brought on their own internal studios and there’s a very real conflict there between whether they want to put resources behind something they own the IP for and derive all the profit for versus something where they don’t own the IP and they might feel like any effort they’re putting into it isn’t going into their value but somebody else’s. That problem has grown over the years as budgets have increased.”

Hollenshead said ZeniMax was a “better fit” than either Activision or Electronic Arts, both of which have published id games in the past, and said that while the studio will now be able to focus on internal development its operations will remain largely unchanged. “Things aren’t really going to be different in terms of what’s going on at id,” Hollenshead said. “We’re not going to change the kinds of games we make… There will be more, better games from id. So if you’re a fan of the company, then it is all upside and all things to look forward to.”

The upcoming Wolfenstein and Rage games will be published by Activision and EA respectively but any sequels will be released under the ZeniMax/Bethesda label, as will Doom 4. And while terms of the deal were not disclosed, Carmack said the id and Bethesda teams will remain “very much separate.”

“There’s going to be a lot of communication and cross-pollination. I doubt there’s going to be any technology shifts between the two companies, but there’s certainly going to be cooperation. And I wouldn’t be shocked to see some hints of different things crossing over in different ways,” he said. “That’s just the kind of stuff when you have lots of people who think everybody is working on cool stuff together.”

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