E3 2008: Video Q&A: Carmack on 'one-game' id-EA deal

Legendary Doom founder, id lead designer Tim Willits, and EA Partners GM David DeMartini talk to GameSpot about how Electronic Arts became Rage's publisher.

Today's Electronic Arts press conference at the E3 Media & Business Summit ended with a shocker. Namely, that id Software had decided not to partner with longtime publisher Activision for its next project, Rage. Instead EA will distribute the game under its EA Partners program, which lets independent developers take advantage of the massive publisher's marketing, sales, and support expertise without having to surrender any sovereignty over their IPs.

Today's id announcement is a coup for EA, which also has EA Partners deals with two other famed first-person shooter developers: Crytek, makers of Crysis, and Valve, the shop behind Half-Life 2 and Left 4 Dead. But while id is most famous for its horror-themed FPS series Doom and Quake, Rage is something new for the studio--an open-world game that has players driving through a postapocalyptic hellscape in Road Warrior-like vehicles.

"As we moved out with a new title and a new franchise for us, we shopped it around to all the major publishers," id cofounder John Carmack told GameSpot. "In fact, we've done it a couple times, [since] we're in the enviable position of having been able to fund the title ourselves...we were able to retire a lot of the risk to the publishers."

Now, several years into the game's development, id made "some hard decisions" and decided to go with EA Partners, despite having a poor opinion of the publisher's past record. "I'll admit that, if you asked me years ago, I still had thoughts that EA was the Evil Empire, the company that crushes the small studios...I'd have been surprised, if you told me a year ago that we'd end up with EA as a publisher."

Obviously, Carmack's opinion has changed. "When we went out and talked to people, especially EA Partners people like Valve, we got almost uniformly positive responses from them." Like other EA Partners, such as Harmonix/MTV Games, Carmack stressed that the EA Partners deal "isn't really a publishing arrangement. Instead, they really offer a menu of services--Valve takes one set of things, Crytek takes a different set, and we're probably taking a third set.

For EA, the decision was simple. "We look at the top independent developers in the games space," said EA Partners general manager David De Martini. "We're just trying to help them make the best game possible." He singled out EA's large roster of consults and experts which will help developers with PR as well as marketing their game when "it's at the right level of quality."

Does the Rage deal mean that EA Partners will also be distributing other id games such as Doom 4 and the forthcoming Castle Wolfenstein game? In a word, maybe. "It's a single title deal right now. As with previous id titles, we don't have anything locked up just now, and we'll be shopping around Doom 4 in the not-too-distant future." As for Rage, the game will be released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and Mac "when it's done."

To hear Carmack, De Martini, and id lead designer Tim Willits discuss the deal, check out GameSpot's video Q&A with the trio.

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Discussion

39 comments
grambyte
grambyte

I lub his name... De Martini... or is that irrelevant? :P

NA3D
NA3D

The average rating for EA games has dropped from: 7.8 in 2001 to: 7.0 in 2007 with 7.3 in 2004 Games with a 8.0 or higher 2007: 5 games 2004: 7 games 2002: 7 games and EA made less games that year so it has been a steady drop in quality for at least 7 years now, and they just keep increasing the number of games every year. So all in all, EA just wants money, and pushes out junk to try to turn profit. they buy out other companies to try to use their branding to help their sales, and it works, then they keep on doing it until that brand has no worth left to it. So I dont want to hear this bull swap that EA isnt the company it used to be, or anything positive in their direction until they change their ways or no longer exist. [Buy EA games at EB, GameStop, GameFly and other places used where EA wont make any money if you dont like them to the point you dont want to buy their games that are actually rating over a 8 or better.]

imprezawrx500
imprezawrx500

who cares? ea and activision are both the same.

combatsoldier
combatsoldier

I love ID so this shoud be good, even if it involves EA.

RaiKageRyu
RaiKageRyu

People think EA got better? They seem worse and worse every year to me.

ctg867
ctg867

-Dead Space continues to look cooler and cooler. Makes me think of Bioshock in space a little bit. Anywho, if they bring out a demo, I like it, and I got the cash for it, I'll pick it up. -So many triple A games. Again, Mirror's Edge looks cool and all, but there are too many damn games for me to be picking up. Unfortunately this has found it's way to the bottom of my list for this year, even though the concept sounds interesting. -Yet another triple A title. Spore looks extremely fun, though this time I have an excuse on why I can't buy it other then budget: I don't have a high-end PC. The concept is so crazy though, and it's amazing to see how the Creature Creator took off and how much they're trying to do with the game. -Time for sports talk. This is the part I sleep for. Dynamic DNA is far from inventive. Gamers have been asking for this for years. Nice try though. I'm actually in support of Wii All-Play as long as it keeps the hardcore experience intact, and this casual stuff is strictly an optionally add-on. -So will Nucleus work cross game AND cross platform? If so it's a good idea. But if all it does is add another layer on top of all these games for no reason other then for them to make cash by nickel and diming gamers, then what a piss poor idea. -Time for Dragon Age talk. This is the part I sleep for. That may sound harsh, but with Kotor 3 and Mass Effect 2 just waiting out there to be finished, I could not care less about them diverting resources for a pseudo sequel to Baldur's Gate. -Here we go again. Right next to Dead Space and Mirror's Edge, this is another big name action game that I want to get. Left 4 Dead looks incredible, but I don't know if I have the budget for it. -What a surprise that id is working with EA huh? Activision has always published their big titles. They're actually still the publishers on the Return to Castle Wolfenstein sequel. Only id thing EA has published is Orcs & Elves. So Rage will be published by EA, but what about Doom 4? That's a good question, but hopefully all three games end up being good, regardless of who brings them out.

VolcanoMan001
VolcanoMan001

Bah! "Partners Program". Sure, you start out as a partner but if they like what they see then they will eventually gobble you up. It should be called "Suckers Program".

1005
1005

EA still confuse me, some days they do stuff that i hate them for then others they have a really good idea and i like them. *sigh*

Soldaten027
Soldaten027

You have to admit though, EA's trying to get rid of that look by using the EA partners system. Compared to their nasty takeover's, they should have done this a long time ago.

Hungry_bunny
Hungry_bunny

This will really be a benefit to ea. Both Profit-wise and Image-wise. id software chose to partner up with ea.

Mystoksor
Mystoksor

meh, id hasn't done anything good since quake 3

cas11123
cas11123

Well, most of the games EA has destroyed they owned directly and the developers mentioned to be in this EA partners thing have produced some pretty top-quality stuff. I think it would be better to wait and see how the game turns out before we start making assumptions. Even if it does turn out to be a stinker, it is only a one game deal. On a side note, it seems the companies in the deal are faring better than their EA owned counterparts. Maybe EA should do this instead of buying up developers. You know.. be what they were originally meant to be.. publishers.

jer_1
jer_1

Screw EA, Carmack has just lost a sale (and I'm sure many, many more) for this one. He was absolutely right when he said EA was part of an Evil Empire. No doubt about it.

Lach0121
Lach0121

to NAD3d, umm they are no worse than anyother major company.... though i d o have to say that they did take some game franchises and destroy them... like 007 james bond. and command and conquer, Rare handled 007 way better, and EA cant begin to compare to westwood studios on the C&C and red alert universe... though C&C3 and Red alert 2 were not that bad, pretty good actually, but Generals blew chunks...... but as a company EA games is no worse than any other major company.... no worse than microsoft, no worse than sony, or nintendo, no worse than sega, no worse than ubisoft....

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

Normally, I really can't stand with EA, but this sounds cool.

ocdog45
ocdog45

money can buy anything

DontEatCream
DontEatCream

The EA Partners program sounds too good to be true. But I guess if id, Valve, and Crytek took it, then it can't be all that bad.

TwiztedMetal
TwiztedMetal

This can only mean good things for EA :)

Sharvie
Sharvie

Hopefully it won't go down the pan.

NA3D
NA3D

(Total PR Stunt) This dude must be getting some fat cash to be talking nice about EA. They are the evil empire, they are a morally and ethically disturbing company, and wow.... I think they had him say that to try to hit the nail on the head with people talking down about EA. There is no other excuse for it really. Their rep it dieing for remaking the exact same game with little update, buying out companies and destroying their quality, and yeah... I think this video is purely EA trying to hit the nail on the head of their bad rep. for doing things gamers are not happy about. I still stand in protest and say, "Dont buy games where EA will get profit, and buy them from EB, GameStop, GameFly, and other places used where EA will get no profit at all." "what they can do for us during testing..." Yeah, look at their own games and how horridly they have been tested, yeah right... EA still crushes small studios, I dont know what he means by out dated, because EA just keeps getting dirtier since 2004. All in all, the average game made by EA has a lower rating today than what they have ever had before, and it keeps going lower. So you can not say they are not the evil empire just caring about profits and not about gamers.

Cube_of_MooN
Cube_of_MooN

Well this could lead to interesting future developments.

the_real_VIP
the_real_VIP

I bet EA is gonna consume and digest id Software by the time Doom 4 and Quake 5 comes out.

carstairs
carstairs

This could affect a lot of titles, it's big news.

-Twilight-
-Twilight-

John Carmack has a good head on his shoulders, I don't see him making a wrong decision here going with EA, especially for just a potential single time. If anyone, give at least Carmack credit, he won't screw it up.

ThunderStorm101
ThunderStorm101

People need to relise that EA arnt the company they use to be, there getting alot better, if anything (and im probly gonna get flamed for this) Activision are the the new EA, they butt rape all of there games now its aload of crap, they have screwed the GH over by making 2 many sub par versions of the game, Shame on your ActyBliz, shame on you

mrklorox
mrklorox

I wouldn't blame Rockstar for going independent and using a program such as "EA Partners" for a publishing/distribution deal. It beats all R* licenses falling prey to EA if the T2 buyout actually happens: EA would get the pub/distro revenue they want and R* would be independent, so Mr. Houser won't have to ask Mr. Zelnick for any extensions on unfinished products.

eddy96_1
eddy96_1

id produces awesome games so no doubt the next ones are gonna b good.... doom4?

WizengamotX
WizengamotX

What I got out of this is that EA is getting better, I like all four of those guys as interviewers, and that DOOM 4 AND CASTLE WOLDENSTEIN are ON E3! YEAH!

portej
portej

This just in, EA Games has changed it's trademark catch-phrase "Challenge everything" to... ALL YOUR GAME ARE BELONG TO US !

Neosword
Neosword

Interesting. Doom 4 should be good.