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Commentary > Game Over
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Doom 3 is coming -- finally
Widely awaited, oft-delayed game is finally done. Which companies stand to gain?
July 14, 2004: 4:05 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Since 2000, developer id Software has told the world the next installment of "Doom," the game that kicked off the action genre, would ship "when it's done."

Good news, gamers: It's done. In the lexicon of the industry, "Doom 3" has gone gold.

That means with id Software's work done, publisher Activision is duplicating copies to ship to retail. What it all boils down to is you'll be able to pick up a copy at retail on Aug. 5, though some stores could start selling the game as early as Aug. 3.

That's not just good news for anxious players.

The release of the game could help spark a revival in the PC gaming industry, which hasn't seen a true blockbuster title since 2000's "The Sims". Since then, personal computers have been shoved to the background of the gaming world while the PlayStation 2 and Xbox game consoles have hogged the spotlight.

Whereas previous versions of "Doom" have focused on frenetic action, encouraging you to shoot anything that moves, "Doom 3" is more story-focused and builds an atmosphere of suspense.

I've had the opportunity to play several levels of the game and can report that it's one of the most immersive games the industry has seen.

The graphics, as exhaustively reported elsewhere, are eye-popping, but that's only a part of the playing experience. Realistic physics and artificial intelligence are just as important in creating a truly scary game. Lights, for instance, cast real-time shadows -- and the demons you're fighting know how to use those shadows to their advantage.

When you see a pinky demon (shown above): Run!  
When you see a pinky demon (shown above): Run!

For the most part, "Doom 3" is a single-player game. Multiplayer elements will only support up to four players, a minuscule number when compared to many of today's action games. The clever use of lighting and the more precise target areas will help it stand out, though. (While in previous games a shot in the general vicinity of your opponent would suffice, you'll have to aim a little more carefully now. It's literally possible to shoot under another character's arm.)

The game will ship on either three or four CDs. Despite the hopes of hard-core gamers, though, there will not be a DVD version of the game, id Software CEO Todd Hollenshead told CNN/Money.

"There's just not a compelling reason," he said, taking a break from a company celebration.

 
More gaming news and commentary? Click the creature.

"I know some gamers are hoping to use the DVD players on their machines for something other than watching movies, but there are downsides," he said. "For us the cost of the goods and the cost of the replication and having to make two masters just isn't worth it."

"Doom" is one of those games even non-gamers have heard of -- one of the most successful franchises in the industry's history, earning id over $100 million in the past 10 years. And while id is closely held, there are several public companies that will see the benefits of the game's release.

Publisher Activision (ATVI: Research, Estimates) is the big winner, of course. Analysts estimate the game will add $150 million to $200 million in revenue to the company's second and third fiscal quarters. Graphics manufacturer nVidia (NVDA: Research, Estimates) also stands to gain, as its GeForce FX cards have been named the recommended video card for the game.

On a lesser scale, Intel and AMD could see a modest bump as "Doom 3" comes with some reasonably powerful system requirements.

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On a grander scale, though, "Doom 3" (along with "Half-Life 2," which is expected to ship later this year ) is expected to help reignite the PC gaming industry. Both games were originally scheduled for a 2003 release. Their delays were a significant factor in the 14 percent drop in PC gaming sales last year.

Of course, id Software is not a dumb company. An Xbox version of "Doom 3" is well underway and was heavily shown at this year's E3 trade show. When that will hit the streets, though, is still up in the air.

"We can't say, at this point, that it's going to come out this year," said Hollenshead. "There are a couple of big pieces of work that still have to be done."  Top of page


Morris is Director of Content Development for CNN/Money. Click here to send him an e-mail.




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