As many of you may have already heard about, id Software was sold on June 24, 2009 to ZeniMax Media, the owners of Bethesda Softworks of Fallout 3 fame. In the past, id Software fought to keep its independence, especially from the major publishers of its games (Midway Games, Activision, and EA).
Some history on id Software: id Software was founded Febuary 1991 by 4 former employees of Softdisk: John Carmack, John Romero, Tom Hall, and Adrian Carmack (not related to John Carmack). id Software’s first game was Commander Keen, created and published before the creation of the company. This title was followed shortly by Wolfenstein 3D, first published in 1992, which created the 3D first person shooter genre made popular today by titles such as Halo and Call of Duty. Predating modern 3D graphic accelerator cards, it used a ray casting technique developed by John Carmack, running with fairly realistic (for the era) 3D graphics on relatively weak computers for the time. First forward 18 months, and another game that people still remember today, Doom, was released, which upped the graphics quality and introduced realistic and graphic violence in computer games. The third major series to be released by id has been the Quake series, first released in 1996, with a cutting edge real 3D engine and featuring music and sound effects by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, it was a feast for the eyes and ears.
What does the buyout mean for id’s works? ZeniMax promised that they’d let id manage itself for now, with John Carmack still the lead technical director. ZeniMax does bring one important benefit to id: they can now publish their own games, so they get both revenue from developing the game and from publishing the game. Currently, all sales are through a third party publisher (Activision and EA for the physical copies, Steam for online distributed versions), so hopefully the potential increase of revenue will help fund the creation of more new and exciting games from id. ZeniMax also benefits from the acquisition of id’s powerful game engine technology. One thing though: Carmack always released his engines as open source after about 5 years when licensees of the technology ceased. Let’s hope ZeniMax lets him continue this tradition.