Carmack left id Software because he wasn’t allowed to work on VR glasses

John Carmack had wanted to combine his work as a programmer at id Software with his new role at Oculus VR, the company behind the virtual reality headset Oculus Rift. However, owner ZeniMax did not allow him to build VR support into the id Software games.

In an interview with USA Today, John Carmack explains why he left id Software, the company he co-founded in 1991, in November 2013. Carmack joined Oculus VR in August 2013, where he was given his own office in Dallas as chief technology to combine his work for the company behind the Oculus Rift with his work at id Software. ZeniMax Media, owner of id Software also confirmed that Carmack would combine both functions.

In the interview with USA Today, however, Carmack makes it clear that he set one condition; he only wanted to continue his work at id Software if he could build support for the Oculus Rift into id Software’s games. He hoped that Oculus VR and ZeniMax could strike a deal on that. “That would have been a huge gain. It seemed like a sensible plan,” Carmack told USA Today. “But they couldn’t agree on that and it made me sick. When it became clear that I wouldn’t get the chance to work on virtual reality at id, I decided not to renew my contract.” If the deal had been closed, Carmack would have combined both jobs, he says. “I probably would have stayed, to continue working with the people and technology I know.”

Carmack had hinted earlier that ZeniMax gave him little leeway. As co-founder, Carmack had a lot of say in the direction of id Software. He lost it in 2009 when ZeniMax, the parent company of publisher Bethesda Softworks, acquired id Software. ZeniMax announced in 2013 that it had cracked down on the studio two years earlier. Doom 4 has been in the works since 2007, but ZeniMax didn’t like the progress. The new owner then decided to take over control. The two id Software development teams were merged and the studio was tasked with starting development on Doom 4 from scratch.