In the not-too-distant past we all heard the news, “id Software sells out to Zenimax”. My first action was to pick my jaw up off of the ground, and my second was to Goggle Zenimax. Who the heck were these guys and who did they threaten to get that deal to pass? I suddenly had flashes of the Coca Cola secret formula commercial; id Software would be doomed forever. I was shocked! That shock inevitably lead to a little anger. If I had a list, id Software would easily one my top 5 dream companies. Their focus on the less beaten path of technology has always been a staple that I’ve admired. Now that they’ve become a cog in the corporate wheel, it sort of lessened their street cred for me. Not that they did anything wrong… yet… but my real concerns were with Zenimax. What scared me most; and ultimately triggered the outrage, was the near perfect track record that so many publishers have to eventually close these types of studios. It only takes one board meeting, one guy high enough in the corporate ladder to say, “id hasn’t done much for us lately, let’s save a buck this fiscal”. We open our RSS readers just about every morning to the text of another studio being torn apart, assimilated, or outright shut down and liquidated. Many of these studios were once thriving independent developers who were purchased in their prime by some public company dangling the golden carrot. Some years later (and sometimes only months later), this thriving studio is struggling to do what they’ve always done so well.
We’ve all been reassured on multiple occasions that id Software will continue to do it’s thing and that this buy out will change nothing, but I still have my doubts there. The “when it’s done” mantra may likely be reworded to “under 3 years” and eventually less. The focus on unique and risky technology could be pushed aside in favor of meeting deadlines with a more established architecture. The design choices that often make id games unique may start to see mandates from business and marketing departments instead of game designers. id may have to rename the BFG because corporate found it offensive. Doom 4′s space marine could be played by Shia LaBeouf or some other flavor of the month. At the end of the day, id Software could become *gasp* just another generic shooter house putting out yearly upgrades to last years’ big hit.
Just as we often feel compasion for a character in our favorite movies, I suppose I feel a sibling’s compasion for id because they’ve been a company that has stuck with it’s morals for so many years. A part of me is very sad to see the old id gone, but I am hopeful. If this new id means more money, more man power, and better marketing support then I can only hope that it means I’ll be playing more than one id Software game every four or five years. I am hopeful that it will also imply more exposure since id has often been very introverted about their progress and milestones. If this buy out was truthfully a way to give the financial support they needed to just go crazy and make even better gamess, then I’ll say that this is good news. The real effects of this buy out won’t be seen for another 3-5 years by my guess, but it would be interesting to ask both sides (id and Zenimax), “where you do you see id Software in five years?”