News across the wire (well, it’s yesterday’s news, we at Tap-Repeatedly pride ourselves on the timeliness of our reporting) states that id Software, once-mighty creators of DOOM, Quake, and… well, of DOOM and Quake, has been acquired by the mysterious ZeniMax Media Group, the parent company that also owns Bethesda Softworks of Elder Scrolls and Fallout 3 fame. With this buyout, Bethesda will now be publishing all of id’s games, severing the longstanding relationship between id and Activision.
1UP reports on former id honcho John Romero’s initial response to the sale – Romero Twittered the following:
Then he followed that up with
Fallout 3 bought DOOM. Wow.
i am positive about the Zenimax deal. my initial reaction was harsh. sorry.
Hee hee. I guess it doesn’t matter how reclusive or off-the-radar ZeniMax is, its lawyers and PR agents smell trouble and aren’t lazy about picking up the phone and giving a serious tongue-lashing to a mouthy ex-employee.
No word on how much the purchase cost, though ZeniMax and Bethesda have indicated that id will be allowed to continue as it has been for years, with great independence and no staff changes.
All in all this doesn’t mean anything to Joe Gamer; id hasn’t been a creative force in the industry for some time, though its games continue to sell well and the upcoming Rage and DOOM 4 are expected to top charts for many moons. It’s just another sign of consolidation in an industry that is in the throes of consolida-… consoli-… consolidinationism. This is the year that brought us the world’s first megapublisher, remember; Activision/Blizzard still dwarfs its closest rival. We’re a scant 24 months out from the BioWare/Pandemic merger; Crytek recently acquired Free Radical, Square-Enix gobbled up Eidos; someone is going to buy Take-Two sooner or later. But id was always the great independent whale, thumbing its nose at the business side of the business for so long. I never imagined a world in which it would be owned by someone else.
ZeniMax Media Group is a very quiet sort of organization. They’ve owned Bethesda for years but only recently has the company thrown itself exclusively into games; ZeniMax used to do other media services ranging from marketing to web design. They don’t publish, not directly; they just own. and unlike most other companies even peripherally involved in the games industry, ZeniMax prefers quiet anonymity, almost never appearing in the press and rarely interfering with Bethesda’s operations. Last year the company announced ZeniMax Online Studios, presumably to build the Fallout MMO that Interplay so famously failed to produce; with id now in the stable, the company is likely to see some very positive balance sheets in coming years… enough, perhaps, to fuel another, more significant buyout. I admit, I’d like to be a fly on the wall at their next strategy meeting.
Kotaku has a little more info on the buyout, including a fairly clear explanation of why the company chose to sell from id studio boss and engine ubercreator John Carmack. Basically it looks like id wanted more publishing control and more longitudinal control over its own IP pipeline. If so, ZeniMax is probably the logical place to go.