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id CEO Hollenshead: Studio To Remain 'Games First, Licenses Second'

id Software has been ambitious with its plans for the id Tech 5 engine -- but don't expect the studio to shoot for an Epic-size licensee list, CEO Todd Hollenshead tells us.
Veteran independent studio id Software has been ambitious with its plans for upcoming engine id Tech 5, intending its use across multiple platforms and genres -- but don't expect the company to shoot for an Epic-size list of licensees, says CEO Todd Hollenshead. "Our philosophy really hasn't changed from what it's always been, which is games first, licenses second," Hollenshead tells Gamasutra in a new interview. "Working on Rage and working on Doom [4], which are both id Tech 5 games, are certainly our top priorities." The company first announced id Tech 5 in 2007, and claims it can seamlessly support multiple platforms -- with "90 percent" of game code working across PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. It also features John Carmack's MegaTexture technology. Traditionally, id's engines -- previously named somewhat informally after the id games for which they were first developed -- were licensed to a relatively small group of PC-oriented studios whose games fell close to id's on the genre spectrum. As id itself expands its scope with the genre-bending, multiplatform Rage, that spectrum is sure to widen, but the company's core licensing philosophy is unlikely to change radically. "It's been more of kind of actually going out and targeting developers, or responding to their requests and actually going out and actually working with them on an individual basis, as opposed to a more kind of marketed, kind of broader approach," Hollenshead explains. "Our philosophy on that has been that we'd rather have a small number of good-fit, high-quality developer licensees than a bunch that aren't really good fits or that may not be that bright of a licensee anyway." Part of that is to maintain a certain reputation. "We think that the licensees...are going to have an impact on how the technology is perceived," the CEO adds. Although it has not done much large-scale licensing promotion, the company has already "seeded tech out to a few licensees," according to Hollenshead, and the engine's development is on track. "The main things has been getting the tech to the 'done' stage, where things aren't moving around, and people can set expectations about how they're going to do their budgets," he says. "It's to that point. There's no significant engineering risk about whether things will work or not."

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