id Software co-founder John Romero has opened up about the time when Sierra On-Line tried to acquire the studio for $2.5 million. The famous game designer also explained why the team declined the offer from Ken and Roberta Willaims.
Romero recalled the story during his recent GDC speech on the Wolfenstein 3D development.
Id’s relationship with Sierra On-Line started in 1992 when Romero mailed Roberta Willaims copies of Commander Keen games and she asked the developers to “fly to their office to talk business” (via GamesIndustry.biz).
When the id Software team finally met with the Sierra On-Line founders, Ken Willaims wasn’t impressed with an early version of Wolfenstein 3D. However, the company was interested in id’s portfolio of shareware games, which was bringing the studio $50k in revenue a month.
That’s why Sierra made an offer to acquire id Software for $2.5 million in company stock. According to Romero, the team was thrilled with the sum but asked $100k of it to be paid upfront in cash.
“Ken thought about it for a second, then he was like, ‘No thanks, but good luck with everything,’” Romero recalled. “So the 100k was a little too rich for him.”
So now people can only imagine how things would have turned out if id Software had accepted the offer and become a part of Sierra On-Line. Instead, John Romero and John Carmack became trailblazers of the first-person shooter genre.
Ken and Roberta Willaims, on the other hand, eventually retired from the games industry more than 20 years ago. However, the iconic duo is now back in business, creating a Colossal Cave Adventure remake.