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All The Rage

id Software's Tim Willits talks hooking talent to work on Doom, establishing Rage and nurturing the modding community
GamesIndustry.bizAre there ever any drawbacks to being so involved with your community?
Tim Willits

Yes, the community. We love our fans, we do but you know how people are. The one's that love you the most are usually the ones that you upset the most. Living up to everyone's expectations and making everyone happy is impossible, but usually we make most people happy, and that usually works out for us.

GamesIndustry.bizFrom a business point of view has your success in the past given you more freedom to experiment and develop?
Tim Willits

Definitely. Especially now. It is so difficult launching a new IP that if you were a start up company and you were trying to do what we're doing with Rage, it would be nearly impossible. Even for us, it's hard to get the attention and hard for people to pay attention and to read the articles. But luckily we have Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein, and we can stand on those shoulders for people to take notice. But it is very difficult to launch any new IPs these days.

GamesIndustry.bizZenimax seem to trust you to do your own thing too?
Tim Willits

That's exactly what they said when they approached us a few years ago. "We will market it really well, PR, you guys focus on the game, and we'll focus on selling it." They're used to working with Todd Howard and he works very similar to that way that id does, so they were like "we know Todd, we know the way it works, you guys kind of remind us of Todd, we'll trust you too." So hopefully that will continue, but they've been great.

GamesIndustry.bizIs that true of time as well? Because you started work on Doom 4 in 2008...
Tim Willits

We started hiring people in 2008. We had to say that we were hiring folks, so we had a long internal debate and we were like "why don't we just tell people?" So we said we were hiring, but at that point we only had one guy working on it. But it was the best way to get resumes, because everybody wants to work on a Doom game. So I think it was the right call. And you know how John is, very honest, and he was like "yeah, let's tell people we're hiring people to make the next Doom!" And we got a tonne of resumes. It was definitely a good call, but yes, we had person that was actually working on it at that time.

GamesIndustry.bizI'm guessing no one is putting pressure on you for a specific release date?
Tim Willits

No. They've been great, even with Rage. The executives at Zenimax and Bethesda, they came to us and said "when do you think it will be done? We will create a marketing campaign and a distribution strategy around when you will have it done." And that's been great.

GamesIndustry.bizWhen you started it was guys borrowing computers to get a business up and running. Do you think it's harder to launch a company now?
Tim Willits

There's three approaches. There's the mega hit where you have your Gears Of War, Rage and Batman, and that's definitely one path. It would be very very difficult for someone today to go down that path, but luckily we have the mobile path, that's opened the doors for a lot of garage band developers, and we have the social path, like Facebook apps and things like that, that have also given people a lot of opportunities.

So you may not be able to make the next Call Of Duty game, but you can make an iPhone game, or a social game, and work your way up to one of the big mobile titles.

GamesIndustry.bizLike social games, casual free-to-play games are too big a trend to ignore, but is seems opposed to what you're known for. Is there ever any chance we'll see an id game like that?
Tim Willits

We had success we our Rage app, but that was really a thing we used to launch the marketing campaign. We're definitely on the mega-title-hit side. They're fun, John likes to do it, they don't really make that much money. Yeah, we'll have to wait and see. There's no new IP that we're creating on the mobile space, but we have a lot of back titles that we can still support. It's a fun little niche for us, but we're definitely the mega titles.

GamesIndustry.bizWhen I came to see you for the Rage announcement you were already talking about it being a franchise, can developers just not afford to make standalone titles in the current climate?
Tim Willits

You need to make a franchise, especially for us. We're doing everything we can to turn it into a franchise, "please let it sell so we can make another one!" Even from the beginning when we talked about the story and the setting, we said we need to make it rich, we need to have deep environment, we have the comic books that we've used to support the game, we have the book we use to support the game, the iPhone - heck, the whole iPhone game was about Bash TV, which is only a ten minute experience in the overall game.

So we definitely, from the get go, planned to make this a much bigger franchise, a much richer world, that allows us to have different games, and we can make more mobile games, heck, we could make a social game with Rage if we wanted to. And hopefully we can make a Rage 2. Hopefully.

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Rachel Weber

Senior Editor

Rachel Weber has been with GamesIndustry since 2011 and specialises in news-writing and investigative journalism. She has more than five years of consumer experience, having previously worked for Future Publishing in the UK.

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