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The real reason John Carmack left id Software

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John Carmack (Credit: Quakecon_Flickr)
John Carmack (Credit: Quakecon_Flickr)

When Doom programmer John Carmack left the company he founded to go work on the Oculus Rift, the assumption was that Carmack had traded a stale job for an opportunity to pursue his hobby — virtual reality — instead. His former studio, id Software, suggested as much in a statement at the time he left, saying that Carmack had "become interested in focusing on things other than game development at id."

Apparently, that's not quite true. The real reason that Carmack left id, he tells USA Today, was because he couldn't work on virtual reality games while he remained at the studio. Originally, Carmack had championed virtual reality while still at id, going so far as to promise that Doom 4 would support the technology. However, it now sounds like id Software parent company Zenimax Media had other ideas, and wouldn't agree to devote the resources to make Doom and Wolfenstein: The New Order into virtual reality games.

"When it became clear that I wasn't going to have the opportunity to do any work on VR ... I decided to not renew my contract."

"[T]hey couldn't come together on that which made me really sad. It was just unfortunate," Carmack told the publication. "When it became clear that I wasn't going to have the opportunity to do any work on VR while at id software, I decided to not renew my contract."

From a business perspective, it's not hard to see why Zenimax might have been unwilling to take the plunge. While winning accolades from many a technology journalist, the Oculus Rift is still an unproven, unreleased platform with a number of missing pieces. While virtual reality games are compelling, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey is the first to admit that they really need to be built for virtual reality from the ground up.

Either way, Carmack is now working at Oculus, where he allegedly has a number of projects under his belt. The company has told us that he's heading up efforts to build an Android version of the software, and CEO Brendan Iribe has hinted that he may now be building games — or at least tech demos — for the Oculus Rift as well.