Doom Eternal composer Mick Gordon has posted a full statement regarding the debacle surrounding the game’s original soundtrack release, delving into a detailed breakdown of the game’s difficult development, mismanagement, broken contracts and, at the end of the day, accusing id Software Studio Director Marty Stratton of brazen lies.
It’s a huge statement that’s well worth reading, but if you just want the gist, we’ve tried to break things down below.
The Doom Eternal soundtrack was included with the Collector’s Edition of the game, with the original promise that this would be “Mick Gordon’s original DOOM Eternal soundtrack”. Delayed shortly before release, this ended up only featuring 11 tracks mixed by Gordon himself with the rest having been composited from audio taken from the game instead of having a bespoke mix.
Following this, Stratton posted a lengthy statement on Reddit pinning pretty much all of the blame on Gordon for the delay, the failing to meet contractual obligations and forcing them to have id Software’s lead audio designer make up the rest of the tracks. This led to a lot of online vitriol being flung in all directions – it’s the internet after all – with the soundtracks for the DLC expansions produced by other composers.
Two years on from this point, Gordon’s statement on the matter seeks to clear his name, going into the details of the game’s development, the specific issues surrounding the OST, and the aftermath which saw id Software withholding payment for the full soundtrack that they used and offering Gordon a six-figure sum to not contradict Stratton’s version of events.
Doom Eternal’s development
Gordon states that writing the soundtrack for Doom Eternal had a very strict schedule that was difficult to meet when so many parts of the game were in flux – music and gameplay are closely linked within the game – and the final vision not clear. The intent was to save time later on, but with such changes and Gordon working to contract with id Software able to throw out work or simply reject it later on, it was a strenuous process. His attempts to shift the schedule for more flexibility were shot down by Stratton.
In the end, while Gordon was contracted for 2 hours 22 minutes, id Software used 4 hours 46 minutes and 1 second of music that he produced, including rejected tracks, mockups, ideas and sketches. The contract states that he would be paid for overages, but he still has not been. This in addition to the long, long periods of non-payment through the multi-year development of the game.
The soundtrack was announced in mid-2019 with Gordon having no knowledge of this. With id Software uncommunicative about this after Gordon completed his work on the main game, he went to Bethesda in January 2020 to get a contract so he could start work – prior experience with lack of contract and Bethesda meant he will not work un-contracted again.
The soundtrack was delayed in March 2020 shortly before the game’s release, but Gordon was still not under contract at this time – directly contradicting Stratton’s claims that he was to blame. Eventually, a compromise of a 12 track soundtrack on 18th march was made with a flexible date of 16th April. Stratton became involved, stating that this must be a hard deadline, and revealing that if Gordon could not deliver, his contract now meant that he could be liable under consumer protection laws for failing to deliver by 20th April – something that would have kept Gordon from signing had he been aware.
He was also then made aware that id Software’s lead audio designer had been working on a soundtrack for a full six months, but that “the content fell far short of expectations” because of how it was spliced together.
Gordon says he then crunched for 18-20 hour to finish his 12 tracks on time, but that a last minute computer error threw a spanner in the works. With five hours to go Stratton suddenly decided that he wanted different songs instead.
Gordon replied, “I shot back that their rapidly crunching schedule and imminent deadline meant it was too late for a change in direction and that I’d prefer to use the little time remaining to work on the music rather than entertain his sudden last-minute interest in the OST.”
The “Open Letter”
With dissatisfied fans of the game after the OST was released, Gordon was rather terse in his responses online. In an effort to save face Stratton and Gordon agreed on a combined statement (after an argumentative Skype call), before Stratton turned around with the open letter pinning much of the blame on Gordon.
There could have been cynical reasons for the use of Reddit as a public platform, but Gordon privately used his legal representation to counter the narrative directly with Zenimax. Demonstrating the chain of events, they offered to settle with part of the stipulation being that Gordon produce a new version of the Doom Eternal OST. However, Gordon wanted Stratton’s post removed.
This became a sticking point, as “lawyers acting on Marty’s behalf expressed worry that even removing the post would reflect poorly on his reputation.” This turned to threats of legal action against Gordon, and eventually a hush-money payment that would prevent Gordon from talking about this ever again for a six-figure sum. Eventually it all turned to stalling and delay tactics.
Gordon refused this, clearly, and has now made public his record of events. He also claims he still has not been paid for the outstanding work on the game.
So, what now?
This is another case of two contradictory accounts of events – after the Bayonetta 3 debacle last month – but it certainly seems as though Gordon has all the receipts to back up all or most of his chain of events. Given that they seemingly reached a stalemate with the behind-closed-doors back and forth between lawyers, and with vested interests getting in the way, at the very least Gordon is trying to rescue his tarnished reputation. However, a public discussion like this could also (once again) go over Stratton’s head to a higher power.
Bethesda is now owned by Microsoft, and I’m sure that Phil Spencer has probably made a phone call or two to try and find out what the bleeding hell went on.
Source: Mick Gordon