Here's the real reason why John Carmack left id Software

By on February 5, 2014, 9:00 AM
gaming, id software, john carmack, virtual reality, vr, oculus rift

John Carmack sent shockwaves through the gaming community last November when he abruptly decided to part ways with the company he helped create to take a full-time position with Oculus VR. None of the parties involved ever gave a reason for his departure but now the gaming legend is speaking out on the matter.

In a recent interview with USA Today, Carmack said he ultimately left id Software because ZeniMax, the parent company of id Software, didn’t share his vision and passion for 3D gaming. Specifically, he said they weren’t interested in devoting the resources necessary to make Doom 4 and Wolfenstein: The New Order compatible with virtual reality – or more accurately, the Oculus Rift.

Without a deal, Carmack decided not to renew his contract and ultimately left id Software to work full time with the Oculus Rift team.

Despite the fact that the Oculus Rift has received a ton of attention from technology journalists and gaming fans alike, the truth of the matter is that it is still an unproven technology that has a long way to go and a lot of hurdles to overcome before it arrives as a consumer product. As such, one could easily understand why ZeniMax would be unwilling to take such risks and invest extra money into titles that are likely already expensive to begin with.

Meanwhile, Carmack is said to be working on a number of different projects at Oculus VR which could include building games or tech demos and creating an Android version of the software.




User Comments: 17

Got something to say? Post a comment
9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I totally understand John Carmack's decision and applaud him for sticking to what's best for him and making the move. He makes a good argument that his particular talents of optimizing code isn't greatly needed at iD since games have a supercomputer's wealth of processing power these days. The challenge of optimizing a device to gain a few milliseconds of performance and in turn creating an apparent and obvious improvement would appeal to such a man as John Carmack.

Sniped_Ash said:

Well Zenimax dumped a ton of money into The Elder Scrolls Online and that's going to flop so if they're risk-averse now, just wait until that hammer drops.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

I'd buy the OR for Mirror's Edge 1 and 2 alone. Throw in a new Doom title and I'll never leave my computer again. Or heck, why not Outlast? Ok, maybe creepy mutated naked psychos with fully erect schlongs might be a bit much for VR. But the potential, oh the potential.

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

So he left because he wanted to do something and the company didn't. Said in another way, the artist wanted to make what's cool, and the company wanted to make what'll sell. Making what's cool is fun 'n all, but if it doesn't pay the bills then it's not a good idea. People are NOT going to want to wear some giant expensive VR thing on their head while they play games. Remember the Microsoft Illumiroom? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ4hWa6y710) Too expensive. Look at how much people on this site even complain about the Kinect. I don't see wearable VR taking off.

rub900 said:

I would have bought a new doom game. Course I am an old fart.

1 person liked this | amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

Sometimes, life is about taking risks... not playing it safe.

Night Hacker Night Hacker said:

He has always been at the forefront of technology, pushing the limits and developing new ideas. It's how he has made money doing what he loves and giving us all some amazing software. Now he sees an opportunity to take it in a new direction. I don't know why they would not want to support him, he has a proven track record.

Guest said:

He hasn't been relevant for 10 years, no big loss.

2 people like this | LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

That's like saying Babbage isn't relevant. You wouldn't be where you are today if it wasn't for him... or Carmack for that matter if you're a gamer.

Guest said:

His leaving has no effect, his non existence would have changed the gaming industry. If Mick Jagger died today it would not be blow to music, his good stuff has already been made.

Guest said:

Looks to me all that really happened is he finally broke the mind control device zenimax used to turn him into a corporate shill.

Guest said:

Agree with this

Guest said:

For a couple hunder $ I'll buy one too. In fact it's hard to control myself not to order dev version OR :)

Revolution 11 said:

Wow, never expected so many guests to be so cynical.

While Carmack has not done amazing things for the last decade perhaps, he is still relevant in the gaming industry, if not for his legacy, then for his innovative, detail-oriented ideas. Just listen to a few of his convention lectures during QuakeCon or E3.

If ZeniMax will not use his talents properly for Doom 4 and Wolfenstein, good riddance to them. I look forward to his progress on Oculus Rift.

MashoBosatsu MashoBosatsu said:

So he left because he wanted to do something and the company didn't. Said in another way, the artist wanted to make what's cool, and the company wanted to make what'll sell. Making what's cool is fun 'n all, but if it doesn't pay the bills then it's not a good idea. People are NOT going to want to wear some giant expensive VR thing on their head while they play games. Remember the Microsoft Illumiroom? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ4hWa6y710) Too expensive. Look at how much people on this site even complain about the Kinect. I don't see wearable VR taking off.

No. He "artist" wanted to create the future, they "company" wanted to create what's safe. Maybe the future is always cool, according to some, not necessarily so. What is safe isn't the way to "cash in", possibly a conservative (or uninformed) demographic will share some cash with you, but each blockbuster product/game was radical, or original, at its presentation - and then was cloned 10,000 times and the meme became common and mundane.

It sells until there is something that is not "that", and then everyone moves on. (examples abound on these forums)

Don't say money so often like it's your jesus christ, or ibrahim. It's not a destination it's a crude medium. Money is not a goal, not for "company", read some drucker, porter, reaching the future is the destination.

Better to have stuck with your so called "artist".

--

MilwaukeeMike said:

No. He "artist" wanted to create the future, they "company" wanted to create what's safe. Maybe the future is always cool, according to some, not necessarily so. What is safe isn't the way to "cash in", possibly a conservative (or uninformed) demographic will share some cash with you, but each blockbuster product/game was radical, or original, at its presentation - and then was cloned 10,000 times and the meme became common and mundane.

It sells until there is something that is not "that", and then everyone moves on. (examples abound on these forums)

Don't say money so often like it's your jesus christ, or ibrahim. It's not a destination it's a crude medium. Money is not a goal, not for "company", read some drucker, porter, reaching the future is the destination.

Better to have stuck with your so called "artist".

--

Money is always the goal, albeit often indirectly. There's even a famous book they make you read in business school called The Goal, and in it, the goal is to make money. Money and the future are hand in hand, if you don't make money, you won't be the future, you'll be the past. Remember Solyndra? They were the future of solar panels, but they didn't make money. Now they're in the past. Compare to Tesla, who also looks like the future, but they are making money... and when the future becomes the present, they'll be in it.

If this company wants to be around in the future they need to make money, and they don't think VR is going to do it for them. You could argue that the future is built on failure and learning from mistakes, and without trial and error we wouldn't be where we are today. And you'd be right. Maybe in order to get everyone using VR for gaming we need someone to take the first step. But if you don't believe it will EVER make money, then there's no point in it.

Money isn't Jesus, it shouldn't be worshiped. But you still need it. If you don't have it you can't pay your employees. And unless you're running a cult, they're not going to stick around to be part of your brilliant future.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.