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.
Does that mean there will be a Daikatana sequel finally? I really hope so. That game was awesome.
Consolidation is good. It brings efficiences to the market place and allows producers to counteract the extreme buyer power of companies like Best Buy and Wal-Mart. There are a thousand Chinese video game companies poised to enter the market the moment prices go up, so this is a matter of pure survival. Besdies, id would have likely gone out of business anyway and this is a better use of its assets. Barriers to entry in the video game market are low (e.g., that murder floor game and other small or one man operations).
I think I have covered all of my basis.
Good day, sirs and madamses.
I wouldn’t be holdig my breath for Daikatana sequel seeing how it had nothing to do with id, heh heh heh.
But, still… This. THIS is the end of an era, pure and simple. id was the last great indie company out there. They pioneered the technology. They pioneered the business model. They weren’t even on the open market (not being a public company). So this for me is a day I will always remember…
Rage and Wolfenestein will still be published by Activision. After that… let’s see. Doom 4 will be ZeniMax-published and Carmack has been talking about working on an iPhone game. Beyond that… Allah knows.
Yes, Ajax, you’re covered. Good talking points (Ajax is an anti-trust lawyer, folks, working on the side of the evil giant corporations. It goes against his sensibilities, but it pays well and he’s good at it so he carefully memorizes and recites the proper pro-consolidation responses. Do not flame him, he’s a victim of circumstance).
I agree with Meho. id was the… yes, it was the last of the unicorns in terms of a studio that always played by its own rules, maintaining its independence even as it, for years, dictated the vagaries of the industry, from where videocard technology should go to what kinds of games we played. While they’ve gone downhill creatively of late, the debt gamers owe to id – for its attitude as well as its games – really cannot be tallied.
Still, I maintain that they could have chosen a much, much worse overlord if their goal was to be owned but still retain their independence. ZeniMax is like the hands-offest of hands off.
A good interview clarifying the matters further over at IGN: http://pc.ign.com/articles/998/998235p1.html