Todd Hollenshead, the former president and CEO of id Software, has joined Nerve Software as its business manager. He’ll be the top business guy alongside Nerve founder Brandon James, who will lead game development at the Dallas company.
Hollenshead negotiated the $100 million-plus sale of id — the maker of games such as Doom, Quake, and Rage — to Bethesda Softworks in 2009, and then he left the company in 2013. Starting in 1996, he began work as the “biz guy” who handled all of the business matters while graphics wizard John Carmack ran game development. He eventually got the loftier title of president and CEO, and left after 17 years.
At indie game company Nerve Software, Hollenshead will take on the title of business manager. He will be responsible for overall company growth and strategic partnerships, while James will lead creative and title development.
“Brandon and I kept in touch, and more recently I was doing business consulting for Nerve,” Hollenshead said in an interview with GamesBeat. “It became apparent it needed a full time scope and attention. I had the ability to step in and do that, as business is in my wheelhouse.”
Founded in 2001, Nerve Software has been a work-for-hire studio that has partnered with multiple game industry titans in bringing some of the world’s most popular game franchises to market, including titles in Activision’s Call of Duty series, id Software’s Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein franchises, as well as Super Lucky’s Tale from Playful and multiple projects with Gearbox Software.
The studio is also developing original titles targeting the Nintendo Switch platform and bleeding-edge VR experiences.
“We are working on an action puzzle game called Burnstar for the Nintendo Switch,” Hollenshead said. “We are searching for a publisher for a VR title we developed internally.”
That VR game is called An Eternity on Pine Bluff Lane.
“I could not be more thrilled with this announcement. After working together at id Software, Todd is without question the best person to realize my vision, and propel Nerve Software to the next level,” said James, president, in a statement. “Todd’s reputation among publishers, developers, partners and the community is unmatched.”
Hollenshead joined id Software as CEO in 1996. During his tenure, he grew the studio from 13 employees to 200-plus. He oversaw the release of dozens of blockbuster titles and licensed products.
“I was the biz guy at id, and it would have been pretentious back then to call myself CEO. Brandon worked for me at id in the late 1990s,” Hollenshead said. “He went on to found Nerve Software and worked on id titles like Return to Castle Wolfenstein.”
Nerve worked on multiplayer titles such as the Call of Duty games. Hollenshead started consulting in November for Nerve, and then he started full time in January. Hollenshead said he was impressed with Nintendo’s performance with the Switch.
“They’ve been revising their expectations upward, and we see the Switch as a match for the kind of games we are making at Nerve,” Hollenshead said. “It matches the gameplay experience we are trying to deliver.”
Both Burnstar and An Eternity on Pine Bluff Lane are expected to come out this year. As for the challenge of returning to a small game company, Hollenshead said, “Things are super dynamic at a smaller company, for better or worse. You are nimble, but you are always scrapping from month to month. It’s a new challenge every week, and it’s not always predictable. That’s what keeps it engaging and exciting for me.”