ZeniMax Media Inc., parent company of noted game publisher Bethesda Softworks, today announced it has completed the acquisition of the well known and acclaimed game studio, id Software, who are famous for their game franchises such as DOOM, Quake, Wolfenstein, and their upcoming title, Rage. Bethesda Softworks will in the future publish the titles of id Software once all previous obligations to other publishers have been fulfilled.

While I feel that such an acquisition is completely unexpected, I feel that it may be within id’s own benefit to be bought out by another company in order to be able to gain access to more financing as well as have larger teams work on higher profile games. This may also help Bethesda and possibly bring higher quality games to their lineup of RPGs. The issue here is that ZeniMax makes MMO games while Bethesda makes RPGs. That combination is perfectly fine and in some instances makes sense. But once you add in id who makes FPS games like DOOM and Quake you start to question whether or not this kind of an acquisition makes sense. But then they come out with a statement like this…

id Software will continue to operate as a studio under the direction of its founder, John Carmack.  No changes will be made in the operations of id Software in the development of its games. All the principals at id Software have signed long-term employment contracts, assuring they will continue in their roles developing games at the studio.

“This puts id Software in a wonderful position going forward,” said John Carmack, who will continue to serve in his current role as Technical Director.  “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.  As trite as it may be for me to say that I am extremely pleased and excited about this deal, I am."

Robert Altman, the founder, Chairman & CEO of ZeniMax Media stated, “We, along with many others, consider id Software to be among the finest game studios in the world, with extraordinary design, artistic and technical capabilities. They have demonstrated, repeatedly, that rare ability to create franchise properties that are critical and commercial successes. Our intention is to make sure id Software will continue to do what they do best – make AAA games. Our role will be to provide publisher support through Bethesda Softworks and give id Software the resources it needs to grow and expand.”

Although all of this sounds great and the press release clearly paints a rosy picture, we have to remember that almost with every single acquisition people will be cut out and laid off in order to save money and prevent redundancies within the new company’s structure. And because of that, we may see some people leaving id that may have played an important role in its development because ZeniMax did not see them as valued persons. As they stated, key individuals will have their contracts extended with the new company but we wonder whether or not the new corporate structure will in any way affect the way that games are made within id. Not to mention the fact that this is not the only high profile acquisition/merger of gaming companies. Another notable one would definitely be the merger of Activision and Blizzard in late 2007. And from my recollection, Activision and Blizzard are also two companies who make entirely different games. There is also a possibility that because companies are diversifying their franchise portfolios they are able to become more successful in making sure that they are not delivering only one type of game and putting too much emphasis on one game type making them vulnerable to changes in the market demand. 

Personally, I am not necessarily a fan of consolidation in the game industry or any industry for that matter because eventually it leads to a lack of competition and inevitably a monopoly of sorts. Specifically referring to an oligopoly, meaning a few companies rule the entire market which basically boils down to a monopoly. Such large companies like Activision Blizzard and EA as well as ZeniMax make up the majority of the games we see today… and while the larger companies may be able to bring us larger titles with more intricacies, it also means that we will more likely than not see more sequel games and less new fresh ideas. Meaning that we’ll be seeing more of the same out of these companies since companies will refuse to take large risks on unproven concepts and be weary of putting large sums of money into them. Because of that, I fear, we will simply just see more of the same.