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Md. Firm Buys Maker of Hit Video Games

In buying Id Software, ZeniMax is picking up popular titles such as Doom 3.
In buying Id Software, ZeniMax is picking up popular titles such as Doom 3. (Associated Press)
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By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 25, 2009

ZeniMax Media, the Rockville-based parent company of video game publisher Bethesda Softworks, announced yesterday that it has acquired game development studio Id Software.

Id is famous among video game fans as the Texas-based studio behind popular franchises such as Doom and Quake. Bethesda Softworks, meanwhile, is known for games such as last year's blockbuster hit Fallout 3.

ZeniMax's chairman and chief executive, Robert A. Altman, said that he approached Id a year ago to find out if the company would be receptive to an acquisition.

"The more we got to know them on a personal level, the more we found that we look at things very much the same way," Altman said of Id's team. Altman said that his company's studios are best known for a different type of video game than what Id specializes in, "so there was no overlap."

The deal's terms were not disclosed. The acquisition is just the latest expansion by the privately-owned local company, which happens to feature boldface names such as movie mogul Jerry Bruckheimer and Cal Ripken Jr. on its board of directors. Two years ago, ZeniMax announced that it was opening a new game studio in Hunt Valley, Md., with the aim of creating an online game in the same genre as the popular computer title World of Warcraft. That studio's secret project is still in the works.

Id is a legendary game company, said Edward Wu, an industry analyst at Wedbush Morgan, but one that has lost some of its primacy. The company once made money by licensing some of the game software technology that it developed, but others have gained an edge in that area. "It seems that [Id] lost some of their momentum to other companies in recent years and that may have prompted them to do the merger," he said.

Consolidation in the video game industry is certainly nothing new. Over the last several years, many Washington area game development studios have been snapped up by major publishers such as Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive Software.

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