Todd Hollenshead Interview

Todd Hollenshead of id Software

As the former CEO and current President of id Software, Todd Hollenshead is one notable id employee who isn’t involved with development on a technical level. By no means does that make his job any less important, as Hollenshead has kept the wheels rolling smoothly at the developer since the early days of Doom. At a time when many frown upon video game executives (Bobby Kotick, ladies and gentlemen), Hollenshead is generally met with great fanfare at best, and indifference at the very worst. In fact, the only time in recent memory that Hollenshead has crossed gamers is when he promised during Quakecon 2009 that Doom 4 would make an appearance at the convention this year.

id Software was acquired by Bethesda Softworks in 2009. Gone are the days of distribution deals and choosing between EA and Activision for publishing rights. As for the transition, “It’s been very smooth,” said Hollenshead, during a sit-down at Quakecon 2010. “I mean really, nothing note-worthy at all has been a problem…we have a publisher who is absolutely confident in our game.”

While the games industry is certainly competitive, there is always some sort of respect and admiration between developers. While id has always been heralded as an elite developer, Todd is sure to spread the love around. “We had respect for what Bethesda and Zenimax had done with Fallout 3 and their long history, and respect for Todd Howard and the stuff that he had been doing at Bethesda for what? Oh gosh, fifteen plus years, maybe? Any concern that we had about whether things were going to work out well has come out on the good and even on the things that we thought would be good, are probably better than we might have hoped they would be.”

The acquisition also allows Hollenshead to maintain focus on the internal workings of id Software, while leaving outside distractions to Bethesda and Zenimax. “One thing I really love about the merger is that we have a crack legal team and I don’t have to deal with contractual disputes or arguments and take-down notices to sites that are pirating our stuff.”

Now that id is part of the Bethesda family, you probably won’t be seeing any more non-Bethesda titles running on id Software tech, but that doesn’t seem to bother Todd. While some companies, like Epic Games and their Unreal Engine 3 technology, license to any and all who want access, id Software is going in a different direction. “That was never really our strategy…we always kept it to a small number of developers on that. If they [Epic] are the GM of engine licensing, we perceived ourselves as the Ferrari of it.”

And like everyone else at id, Todd seems to be a big fan of NVIDIA. “For as long as I can remember, as long as I’ve been at id, we’ve had an excellent relationship with NVIDIA, whether it’s giving NVIDIA input on their technical direction or to receiving information from NVIDIA about their technical direction. That allows John [Carmack] to let the guys in NVIDIA know, ‘Hey, this is what I’m thinking about, this would be cool,’ and having all that dialogue. There is an amazing relationship there. NVIDIA’s been a huge fan of id over the years and we’ve been pretty NVIDIA fanboy-ish as well."

Devin Connors