id Software, the Doom/Quake maker that epitomized the power and passion of independent game development, is indie no more. The Texas-based developer sold to ZeniMax, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, last week. Though the company says that the createive process will remain the same, it marks the end of an era for one of the industry's most influential shops.
In the 1990s, id pioneered self-publishing and shareware publishing - giving away portions of games such as Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3-D, and Doom for free, then charging for the rest. Eventually, the company worked with Activision to publish its products. But as large publishers like Activision and Electronic Arts began buying up development shops, tensions have grown for third party developers. id co-founder John Carmack tells Kotaku that he grew increasingly dismayed over Activision's reluctance to throw more weight behind id's games.
"There's a very real conflict there between whether they want to put resources behind something they own the IP for and derive all the profit for versus something where they don't own the IP," he said "and they might feel like any effort they're putting into it isn't going into their value but somebody else's. That problem has grown over the years as budgets have increased."
David Kushner is the author of many books, including Masters of Doom, Jonny Magic & the Card Shark Kids, Levittown, The Bones of Marianna, and Alligator Candy. A contributing editor of Rolling Stone, he has written for publications including The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine.