id - "Licensing financially significant"
But still "a long way behind game development" according to the man who should know, CEO Todd Hollenshead
Following on from the recent unveiling of the new "id technology licensing program", Todd Hollenshead, id Software CEO and the man in charge of Quake engine licensing, has responded to some of the questions raised by the document. Despite the apparent change of heart from id, who in the document talk about their traditionally "low-key approach" to engine licensing, it seems that this part of their business is still very much playing second fiddle. "Engine licensing is something we do because it makes sense to do it. It's certainly financially significant to us, but it's a long way behind game development."
With two Quake 3 engined games already released and at least five more already in the works, it's certainly not that far behind though. After all, at $300,000 a pop, unless publisher Electronic Arts got a big saving from buying multiple licenses, that's around $2,000,000 going into id's bank account even before they start getting any royalty cheques. If any of the games using the engine are successful, that figure could easily double over the next couple of years, even if no more licenses are sold. According to Todd though, "I doubt technology licensing will ever be the primary goal of id", pointing out that they still enjoy game development after all these years, and that companies which develop engines without games to go on them have "historically been unsuccessful".
He also discussed the support (or lack thereof) given to licensees, which is something that rival companies have pointed out in the past. "As far as our involvement with licensees on the engine development, our primary role is providing them with the fixes, updates, and improvements that we make to the technology. We provide assistance where reasonable and warranted, but we certainly don't hand-hold. Companies that need to be treated like that really are not good licensing candidates and we probably wouldn't even license it to them."
It seems that while Quake 3 is arguably the most advanced 3D graphics engine currently available in its final form, as id themselves admit in their new licensing document, "it takes a technically savvy team to use [the Quake 3 engine], and it's not priced for a 'me too' title".