Id Still “Figuring Out” Quake Live

Id bossman Todd Hollenshead has explained to VG247 what the “failure” of the in-game advertising model means for Quake Live. He stated that the closure of ad firm Massive – which MS shut down earlier this year – has caused Id to rethink: “I mean, smarter people than me were making these estimations. Look at Microsoft. They spent, like, $200 million on the Massive acquisition, and they basically shuttered that division in February. So that had ramifications for us, because we used Massive. And if that was more successful, that’d have had a significant impact on what Quake Live is.”

It’s not over for the reborn Quake III, however, as Id are now experimenting with subscriptions and video-ads: “The game is an entertainment success, so now we have to figure out how to make the business model work.” And with no hats, how’s a company to make a profit? Eh?


  1. Askeladd says:

    Shiney blue suede shoes?


  2. jon_hill987 says:

    Pity the in game adds didn’t work. In an arena game it was one form of advertising I didn’t mind (what spots arena isn’t plastered with adds?) despite the fact you see them all the time. Far better than an add before playing.

    • Gnarf says:

      I’m kind of imagining marketing dudes being like, so say a player is going to stroll through this section here, then, how about we put a little billboard here? You think he’s gonna stop and look at it, like can we put a little video on it, or is he just going to look at it while walking through and we should just have a static image?

      And then the player rocket jumps and flies backwards through the air there or whatever.

  3. MD says:

    They should try selling hats — it couldn’t hurt. (Except by drawing the ridicule and ire of the community, but from this crowd you get that pretty much by default.)

    One thing that saddened me a bit from Carmack’s QuakeCon Q&A was his answer to a question regarding QL. After admitting that it has been a business failure thus far, he put this down in part to its nature as a highly skill-dependent, fast-paced game lacking grindy character advancement. All fair enough, probably, but instead of railing against this he said that id is “internalising some of those lessons as we go forward”.

    • Zyrxil says:

      I completely agree. Hats may be a meme joke, but hell, selling cosmetic items and skins works.

    • masiif says:

      I have high respect for id software as I grew up with their pioneering games (as well as the many others based on their technology). If they water down the gameplay of Quake Live it would be a major disappointment.
      Personally I hope they are going to sell some in game content. I would be more than happy to pay for defrag with the associated maps so I am able to enjoy it anywhere, anytime.

    • PoLLeNSKi says:

      Hats and most cosmetic items won’t work in QL because a huge majority of the players use a console command to set the enemy models to a bright green colour model which almost fills the hitbox for ease of aiming.

      I think they set their subs rate too high for what is essentially Quake 3 with cut-down features (map pool, mods, server options, LAN play) a handful of new features (server browser, statistics, friend lists, ?) and no really useful modern additions like integrated voicecomms.

      I’m a huge id fan but they need to up their game and work out how to make this model work. Personally I’m very anti-advertising and don’t believe that adverts work effectively in a modern age where recommendations via the huge multitude of social networks are so much better directed at me – the only ads I might fall for are the ones informing me of a discounted product or something I was previously completely unaware of. The ads in QL are nothing like that (Fosters, Fall Out, new movies…)

      – Steam works sooo well at providing a platform for both friend recommendations and for them to show off their deals and people have to see my hats when I kill them.

  4. John P says:

    I wish someone had sent Eidos the memo about the failure of in-game ads so I wouldn’t have to see Shane Warne’s fat face in Human Revolution. Or whatever ads will be playing at that time.

    • ziusudra says:

      There are no ads in Human Revolution.

    • viverravid says:

      There are no ads in Human Revolution.

      …. if you block the IP of the adserver

    • Chuck84 says:

      There is a point made in the PC Gamer review about the in-game ads. I haven’t played it, but i doubt they’re just making it up.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I think I4C just wants my Severed Max Head hat like EVERYONE ELSE PLAYING TF2 until I blocked trading requests with non-friends, non-current-server-players.

      Other than that, hats are just fine. I’ve been playing TF2 since long before hats and hats improved the game. How? Simple: give the players status symbols and they will desire them. Social status is incompatible with anonymity, so the typical behavior of all the players on all of the TF2 servers (that I played) improved tremendously a mere few months after hats were introduced.

      Unfortunately the F2P nonsense has completely diluted the pool of quality players on public servers but at least the total number of players has increased dramatically and empty servers are a lot rarer now.

    • ankh says:

      I didnt really think much of those ads in Human Revolution, but Shane Warne? Fuck no. Please send them the memo. We cant risk it.

  5. I4C says:

    1. Anti-warp .
    2. Lan servers.
    3. Ladder for duel and team games.

    I would buy the game full price if they put that in.

    Hats would ruin the game, this isn’t a console game like TF2(i am really sad how valve dumbed it down for consoles, thank god we have fortress forever)… unless ofc we have a cvar to not see other peoples hats.

    • Squishpoke says:

      This is the worst case of “X game is stupid because it is consolized and dumbed down” fallacy I have ever seen.

      I mean, come on, it’s TF2. If you knew what you were talking about you’d know that TF2 is NOT a console game (considering that the console versions are crippled shadows of the PC version).

    • Cyberpope says:

      dont you see squishpoke?! hats have unbalanced the game and made it easier for the F2P console kiddies to hack and oh god i dont know what im on about its just a hat

    • CommentSystem says:

      If anything the hats have made the game more complex. I have zero understanding of the metagame Value has built around TF2.

  6. PaulMorel says:

    Why not hats? Vanity items are the key to owning the internet.

  7. markcocjin says:

    Laugh all you want about TF2 hats. Valve are just better at figuring out how making the community work for and profit from the game to keep it alive and relevant.

    Hats may be a bit silly but they don’t hold a player hostage like an ad that forces itself on you. Whatever ridiculous content you see in TF2, the players chose to wear/flaunt them.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      People’s hats force themselves on me all the time.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      Those hat have somewhat corrupted or diluted an excellent visual aesthetic though. I can choose not to wear hats, but have no choice about what others are wearing.

    • c-Row says:

      Next thing you know, Valve will offer a DLC to give you the option to switch of the showing of other people’s hats.

    • PetiteGreve says:

      How to turn off hats (all of them or only a few of them) : Irish Fortress => link to
      The tool is frequently updated (the From Dust and the Pipboy items are already there). You can do the exact same thing yourself (by making your own items_game.txt)
      It (should) works with “sv_pure 0” and “sv_pure 1” servers.
      Of course it’s not working on “sv_pure 2” servers (since that setting is forcing 100% unmodified aka “vanilla” TF2).

      People (including myself) contacted Valve about the possibility of turning off hats/items, they said they were going to think about that.
      So far they haven’t announced anything related to such feature, but they’re already aware of the request.

  8. sjjs says:

    I wouldn’t mind hats. Big hats with their own hitboxes.

    (What can I say – my aim is shit, so I’ll take any help I get.)

  9. Herzog says:

    What QL needs most is a proper matchmaking system, so that a rookie who plays his first duel doesnt face an opponent who has been playing the game for ten years.

  10. Tei says:

    Quake Live is a in-browser game,… Is supposed to run light and need a small download of data. If you add hats that thing can get out of the window. But is a idea, like others.

  11. louder says:

    I am unsure as to why you have fixated on hats. Something as simple having different skins for the guns and player and charge a small amount of money for some and then have other free ones but with adverts on the back and call them sponsor shits.

    So you have the standard Q characters, the sponsor characters and the purchase characters. You could then have pretty much the same for the guns (although im nothing thinking there would be lots of sponsor guns!). Also adding things like the ability to change the colour of ammo or explosions in game for a small fee. Not only would people want massive pink explosions but they would most likely pay for them and it would make the game look crazy. Small visual things like that (changing the colour etc) wouldn’t effect gameplay and could easily be implemented.

    Even going as far to offer different animation sets and sounds. Thing like this would pull people in.

    • manveruppd says:

      I thought about this too, selling custom skins and models, perhaps even custom maps. Ideally, they could set up a marketplace for user-created content and take a cut of the sale price!

      Thing is though, it’s a really fast-paced competitive game, and most people woiuld consider that stuff distracting. Also, there’s the question of sabotaging yourself with costumes that are too flashy: I’d certainly pay £1-2 for a massive ridiculous clown hat, it would amuse me, but it would also make me a big flashing target! And then there’s the other side of the coin: if someone makes skins that are stupidly hard to see, wouldn’t that be cheating? And then of course everyone always has the option of forcing all enemy skins to appear as TankJr, a lot of competitive players do that as it improves framerates on slower computers, plus it’s a large and high-contrast model. So all those skins you paid for will be invisible to a lot of people!

      Contrast that with TF2, which is a slower-paced, less hardcore game (I’m not dissing it, it’s a lot of fun!), where you have time to notice if someone’s wearing a silly outfit.

      But the shooter that did fashion best has GOT to be APB I reckon! The shooting there was so awful that you had PLENTY of time to notice if your opponent was wearing a purple 1970s pimp-coat and a huge hat with a feather in it, cause you had to empty a whole clip before you could hit him! :D And you’d also notice if he was driving a car with his own handmade decals that made it look like theGeneral Lee from the Dukes of Hazzard, because the handling of those cars was so atrocious that you would have PLENTY of time to look at it as its driver tried to take a tight turn and would lose control of it, causing it to flip over and tumble slowly towards where you’re standing on the other side of the street! :P Hell, you could even have a custom 5″ theme tune that people would hear every time you killed them, which was great! I made a Pacman tune and even sold a few copies of it! :) It was fun hearing the tune you yourself made after being killed by someone, and then messaging them a “thank you for your custom”! :D Made being killed slightly less painful.

      Still, I’m sure Id will figure something out for QL. I think selling people’s mods on there might be an option – I would happily pay for Rocket Arena! (There’s actually STILL people playing Rocket Arena 3, but it’d be nice to see it reincarnated in QL!) I know the Clan Arena mode is similar, but it’s not as intense as the old 1v1 games in classic RA.
      The way to do it so there’s enough people to form a game would be if someone who bought a mod were allowed to start their own game of that mod. (So giving them the kind of privileges that only subscribers get for the normal game modes) That game would then be joinable by non-owners.

    • Carter says:

      Wait, just realised manveruppd said everything I was going to.

      I think possibly micro-transactions are they way to do things, just not entirely sure what they could be, possibly custom skins, although everyone does force TankJr or Keel for the enemy models not many do the same for there team so there would be some visibility there or although it would be hit and miss between players
      I think they need to cultivate a better community thats willing to pay for stuff, the premium model was essentially a disaster with few people playing and then only ever playing one map. New maps or old Q3 favourites released for free would certainly ehnance the community as was seen when the premium maps were available for free during Quakecon

  12. yhalothar says:

    No wonder. I bought a subscription and still play on free maps, as there aren’t many people on premium servers.

  13. King Kong says:

    There’s only so many people that want to play a hardcore PC game without experience points and levelling up.

    That said, I have no problem finding full servers in the evenings on weekdays and any time on weekends for CA, CTF, DM or duel

    Hopefully they don’t actually shut the game down, it can’t cost them that much to maintain it

  14. nootron says:

    I’d try out Monocles. Quake 3 RMT Monocles. I don’t think anyone’s tried this yet and it sounds like a sure win.

  15. ScubaMonster says:

    The only problem with Quake Live that I had is that blood and gibs are gone, completely. What is Quake without bloody gibbing? That was a let down to me. Yeah the game play is the same, but sanitizing it just kind of sucks the cool out of it. Also, there were some cool mods that I’d rather be playing with. Excessive Overkill was great chaos.

  16. Derpentine says:

    “I mean, smarter people than me were making these estimations.”, Dont undersell yourself Mr Hollenshead. These same ‘smarter people’ also presumably thought the initial ad scheme was a good idea. You know, just one of those things that commerce folks don’t seem to understand… the internets.

    I’d love ads to work and such, but eh… I doubt many people didnt see the issues at the outset, then the accounts etc. Sell out or get out, save face and keep, don’t prolong the inevitable or alienate your playerbase (sup monocles, sup w/ you).

  17. bisquack says:

    There’s a colossal amount of stupid suggestions to make the game profitable floating around here.

    Hats? Skins? Costumes? Have any of you even played the game beyond the single FFA match in which you got downright destroyed because you couldn’t comprehend why you don’t start with an AKu-74? And then, “What the fuck some glowying blue dude just one shot me. This game is full of hackers. I fucking quit.”

    People force models to avoid bullshit such as the aforementioned “skins”.

    The game isn’t profitable because people are simply horrible at the game. In fact, I believe that it’s just a general statement about gaming as a whole. If you can allow for a large portion of your gamerbase to have this feeling that they are contributing in an online match that is benificial to their team/objective and make it seem “fun”, despite the fact that spamming grenades at a fucking doorway does little more than just piss everyone off and makes you a bloody useless excuse for a human being, then you’ll be profitable.

    Considering Quake, by its unfortunate yet severely under-appreciated nature, punishes you for playing like a twit, people simply do one of two things:
    1) Accept that they are mediocre at best and enjoy their subpar credit rating and shits for children and a cow for a wife
    2) Not play and bitch on forums about unbalance, hackers, lag, netcode, lack of hats, and mountains of bullshit.

    So how do you fix it? You punch people like ScubaMonster in the teeth for bitching about gibs not being there. Seriously dude? Was it really that satisfying to gauntlet someone? You sound like one of the guys at quakecon going apeshit during the TDM finals when someone hit four rails in a row. NEWSFUCKINGFLASH: NOT THAT HARD.

    Brb going to write a blog.

  18. oatmeal says:

    I wish they would revolve those ads a bit. You can only see the same Fallout New Vegas ad so many times before it hits a nerve.

  19. dX9b99ge3W2 says:

    Good luck to id as I have no idea whatsoever in how they can monetize Quake Live.

  20. sbs says:

    “Is the current extended console cycle helpful to you at all in that respect? The tech curve’s sort of flattened out for the time being, so there’s not quite as much of an impetus to make angels weep at your fence textures and whatnot. Or at least, that’s how it seems from the outside looking in. ”

    This one made me laugh. Great interview.