Bethesda parent acquires id Software

Quake, Doom, Fallout, Oblivion come under one roof as ZeniMax Media purchases developer of Rage; [UPDATE] co-founder John Romero voices disapproval.

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One of the longest-tenured independent developers in the gaming industry has been acquired. Today ZeniMax Media announced that it has purchased id Software. Best known to gamers as the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, ZeniMax will add id properties like Doom, Quake, and the upcoming Rage to a library that already includes blockbusters like The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3.

ZeniMax just became a major player in the first-person shooter category.
ZeniMax just became a major player in the first-person shooter category.

While id Software will become a part of ZeniMax, the developer will retain a certain amount of autonomy. ZeniMax confirmed that id founder John Carmack will continue serving as id's technical director, with no changes to be made in the company's day-to-day operations or development process. Additionally, ZeniMax noted that "all the principals at id Software have signed long-term employment contracts."

"This puts id Software in a wonderful position going forward," Carmack said in a statement. "We will now be able to grow and extend all of our franchises under one roof, leveraging our capabilities across multiple teams while enabling forward looking research to be done in the service of all of them. We will be bigger and stronger, as we recruit the best talent to help us build the landmark games of the future."

While the focus of the news is on the newly related Bethesda and id Software, a third ZeniMax property offers perhaps further possibilities for extending franchises. In 2007, ZeniMax secured $300 million in funding to establish ZeniMax Online, a developer focused on massively multiplayer online games.

The move bolsters ZeniMax's upcoming release schedule with the addition of id projects like Rage and Doom 4. While the latter title does not have an announced publisher, Rage was confirmed as an EA Partners project at Electronic Arts' 2008 Electronic Entertainment Expo media briefing. The acquisition apparently won't affect the EA Partners deal. EA corporate communications head Jeff Brown told GameSpot, "At EA, we wish both ZeniMax and id the best of luck on their new relationship. We’re still very excited about publishing Rage, which we think is going to be one of the best games of 2010."

[UPDATE] However, such enthusiasm was not shared by id Software co-founder John Romero, who left the company in 1996 to develop Daikanta at Ion Storm. "ZENIMAX??????? Disgusting," he declared on his Twitter page, before going on to muse, "Fallout 3 bought DOOM. Wow."

The privately held ZeniMax was founded in 1999 and based in Rockville, Maryland. The firm's board of directors includes a number of notable figures, including filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer, Hall of Fame baseball player Cal Ripken Jr., and Leslie Moonves, president and CEO of GameSpot parent company CBS.

No purchase price for the acquisition was disclosed.

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