During QuakeCon 2015 players were given a first crack at id software's latest video-game, DOOM, in a brief, but hands-on play-test of the game. With this a stream of new information has been released into the public domain with respect to id's intentions for this project, and feel of the game itself.

The first time I saw the game DOOM I was around six or seven years old. I was over at my cousins' house, and they had been hyping me about it since I had gotten there, not that it was needed as rumours of this game had flowed through the grapevines in our school yards. There was a palatable excitement in the air accompanied by the giddiness of doing something you know you shouldn't be, something that might land you in hot water as concerned parents learned through the traditional media about the frightful acts the game portrayed. We didn't care, secluded in our own world with the door firmly locked, we hardly knew what was coming. Huddling over the tiny monitor, scrambling over the controls, we were all immediately mesmerized by the game as it finally turned on. It was so wildly different, in form, and content. We had all grown up playing games like Mario, or Sonic, colourful, bright, cheery, two dimensional games about unexpected heroes rescuing fantasy worlds. This was something else, something alien. It was brutal. It was chaotic. It was violent. It gave no fucks, and it certainly didn't offer to hold your hand. The controls made no sense, the perspective was nauseating, and you had to traverse this hellish world starting with a pistol, nothing else, just a pistol. We were immediately lost, but we wanted to find our way out, we had become absolutely immersed. The barrier between you and the character had been broken down, you were seeing the world from his perspective, no, it was your perspective, you were inside that world.


I'm sure this is the sort of story that many people can reminisce about when it comes to their first encounter with DOOM, it wasn't like playing another good game. It was an entire narrative involving a discrete experience which was formative in player's relationship with video games. However, since the first DOOM a lot has changed. The video game industry has blossomed into the largest market in the world of entertainment with leaps, and bounds being made in pretty much every field related to the medium, from hardware, to software, from content production, to content delivery. The internet blew up, and competitive video-gaming, colloquially "e-sports," has become a thing. The creators of DOOM, id Software, would spend the their time after the release of DOOM pioneering the competitive first person-shooter multiplayer world with the release of Quake I, Quake III: Arena, and Return to Castle Wolfenstein, each of them making a deep, and lasting imprint in the genre.

On June 14, 2014, we saw a teaser for a new DOOM game, and it was crazy. Considering id Software's past, I wanted to know what a new DOOM game would bring, and most pertinent to me was whether it would bring anything to the competitive arena first person shooter scene. From its initial announcement, and up to the presentation at E3 2015 I immediately began to think what opportunities it could create as a competitive platform, but unfortunately at the time there was no real way to form a substantial opinion. The only fragments of information available including the initial trailer, a follow-up three second teaser trailer, the E3 presentation itself, and finally leaked footage of earlier development work, that had been scraped altogether by that point. What was obvious was that this was going to be a beautiful, graphic, and violent game, and although I had already begun to hear rumblings from people that did not appreciate the art direction, even they had acknowledged the meticulous attention to detail.


Then QuakeCon 2015 happened, and the public were given their first taste, of an admittedly early version, of the game. We learned that the new DOOM is going to be awesome, it's going to fun, it's going to kick while you're down, and leave you with a feeling of satisfaction when you've completed it on highest difficulty. You're probably going to require a new graphics card, heck maybe a new CPU, but it will effectively push whatever hardware you have to its limits, and the game itself will plant itself as a standard measure in most hardware test for the next few years like prior id Software technologies. The action will be consistent, the level design clever and attractive, the aesthetics crisp, all being pushed by the latest, and greatest game engine in the industry. The weapons, enemies, settings, and missions will be familiar old friends, bringing with them fond memories, whilst the latest additions will have you picking your jaw off the floor. The single player game will be an enjoyable experience, and the multiplayer aspect will provide some good laughs. The game will come with the sort of features that have helped revolutionize the first-person shooter genre, notably things like aim down sights (ADS), large crosshairs, potentially vehicles of some sort, things that just go BOOM, and over-the-top theatrics.

We have to ask, why should we expect this? The video-game industry is massive! With projections anticipating the industry to be worth $110 Billion USD worldwide1, and expected to grow to a $19.6 Billion USD industry by 2019 in the United States alone.2 What must go hand-in-hand with these projections of anticipated growth, is also the recognition of the increasing costs of development. The Economists recently had an article on the costs of development, and they suggested that "developers and publishers are coy about releasing specific numbers, but budgets of tens of millions of dollars are not uncommon. The biggest, most polished games can cost hundreds of millions."3 So the rewards have increased, but so have the risks, and compounding these two factors are also that there has been an increase of competition between developers. As mentioned in the article this also has a knock on effect on publishers, and how willing they are to take on projects which do not fit the general tastes of consumers, and the industry as a whole becomes a cycle of monkey see, monkey do, because these chimps are bringing in serious cash. With the type of budgets that these large, for-profit, developers are throwing around, it's completely sensible to assume that they would need to make a large, and hefty return, to run a successful business.
Release Date
Nov. 15, 2001
Nov. 9, 2004
Sep. 25-27, 2007
Sep. 14-25 2010
Nov. 9, 2010
Oct. 25, 2011
Nov. 8, 2011
Nov. 6-8 2012
Halo: CE
Halo 2
Halo 3
Halo: Reach
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Battlefield 3
Call of Duty: MW3
Halo 4
1.0 million copies by Apr. 8, 2002
2.4 million copies in 24 hours
5.0 million copes by Nov. 30, 2007
$200 million USD first day sales
5.6 million copies in 24 hours in UK/US markets
10.0 million copes in first week
6.5 Million copies on launch day
$220 million USD first day sales

Unfortunately I was unable to attain sales data on id Software games, but judging from the fanfare and general media coverage the release of the above mentioned games receive, it's not difficult to imagine the games released by id Software are not close to these numbers. For example, DOOM 3, released on August 3, 2004 had sales of 3.5 million copies by, or around, January 9, 2007. At 60 USD per game, that's approximately 210 million USD12. Not bad by any standards, however, when we look at another game released in 2004, HALO 2, we see that it had achieve a million less sales within the first day of release. Additional factors someone from the arena-fps crowd has to consider is that this game hardly catered to them, and their tastes. DOOM 3 was a dark, atmospheric, single-player oriented game, which once again as is id Software's traditional role, pushed the boundaries of 3D graphics to a new level.


I don't think the new DOOM game is going to set the world on fire, but it will be good, and most people who play it and can run it with good frame rates are going to think quite highly of it. This will be the case unless your gaming background includes Quake, more specifically, competitive online Quake. If you're one of those people, one of those sorts then you're going to hate this game, and everything it stands for. Not because it's terrible, because it's "not DOOM", because it's "not Quake", because "id is dead." Alas, that age, that style, that genre is at an all-time low in terms of popularity, even though it's seeing a resurgence with games like Reflex, and Diabotical, a large studio could never justify making a game like Quake 3: Arena ever again, unless the market demand rapidly surges overnight. Quake players have no interest in any crutches, they don't want to aim down sights, or duel wielding guns, they don't want pretty graphics, great characters, wonderful stories, or anything else which fuel the vast majority of people who play video games. What do they want? They want the opportunity to destroy, and humiliate their opponents, shatter them to the point where they never want to play the game again. They want blood, and they want it by the gallons. They are ruthless, and even the nicest ones you'll meet will want nothing short of utterly embarrassing you inside the arena. Yet this is now a niche genre, one that is slowly growing, but unless there is a miracle of sorts, it will never have the reach of the mainstream fps games, in terms of scope, or sales.

To these die-hard players, that look at the old games, and hope that the developers make something like them and think; "well they were commercially successful in the past, surely with the right development, and marketing it could be successful now." Maybe, but when DOOM and Quake were released they had very little competition, especially within the first person shooter genre. We can understand this because they created the genre, and since then the landscape video game market vastly changed. Large franchises such Halo, Call of Duty, and Battlefield have reshaped the first-person shooter genre, and as a result reworked the expectations, and qualifications of the end user. What people want, and how they judge the products is very different to how people made these judgements in the 1990s. Those things which define the essence of an "arena first-person shooter", a sub-title which in itself is quite new, things such as deep movement mechanics, the reliance on a keyboard, and mouse, the ability to infinitely customize the visual aspects of the game, a small crosshair, responsive input, low visual clutter, are antithetical to those expected features in a modern first person shooter. To give a brief example of the sort expectations players have, the idea of re-configuring the visual aspect for of the game is now discussed within the boundaries of fairness, and cheating. Quite often I've heard that digging through a config file, and retooling the aesthetics of the game so that it visually clearer is against the rules of fair-play. Fans of this genre need to re-shape their qualifications for "success," and an active community with 6,000-10,000 players should be treated as a massive success.

Maybe some people will point to Epic and their latest Unreal Tournament game, and I will concede that. However, we should consider the amount of work that is being done by the community and the fact the game is only possible because of community involvement, and development of the game. It is not just a case of traditional in-house development, the community will be assisting the developers pretty much every step of the way.

So...? The new DOOM game is going to be good, and as long as your expectations are in line with the current reality of the video game market, then you will not be let down. Maybe this assessment is inaccurate but considering the sheer costs of the game development the smart money is to go where the consumers are. Can you really blame anyone? I don't think it would be fair to expect anything less. For those hoping that DOOM will spark life into a long dormant community, then you will, most likely, be thoroughly let down. If you want an arena-shooter, then there are lots of indie developers working on just the game you want, so support them, and help them make the community you want a reality. Between Reflex, Diabotical, INSIGHT, Mid Air, and TOXIKK you'll be able to find a game that fits your niche, and style.