Doom Eternal composer Mick Gordon claims that id Software director Marty Stratton “lied” about the FPS game’s official soundtrack, and that a Reddit post authored by Stratton in 2020 “severely impacted” his reputation, alongside other claims regarding crunch and legal challenges from Doom publisher Bethesda and parent company Zenimax, which allegedly attempted to issue a “gag order” preventing Gordon from discussing his work publicly.
In a lengthy statement, Gordon cites a Reddit post from Marty Stratton, who served as executive producer of Doom Eternal. In the post Stratton outlines the circumstances surrounding the creation and release of the game’s official soundtrack album, which was set to launch April 20, 2020, and be made freely available to players who had purchased the Doom Eternal Collector’s Edition.
Stratton claims that they were “increasingly concerned about Mick delivering the OST to us on time” and “personally asked our lead audio designer at id, Chad [Mossholder], to begin work on id versions of the tracks – a back-up plan should Mick not be able to deliver on time”. Stratton says that he didn’t believe the tracks delivered by Gordon “would meet the expectations of Doom or Mick fans”, and that Gordon suggested music mixed by Mossholder could be used to “flesh out” the Doom Eternal album.
“From our perspective, we didn’t want to be involved in the content of the OST and did absolutely nothing to prevent him [Gordon] from delivering on his commitments within the timeframe he asked for, and we extended multiple times,” Stratton says.
Following the release of and reception to the Doom Eternal OST, Stratton quotes a public response from Gordon which they claim “generated unnecessary speculation and judgement – and led some to vilify and attack an id employee who had simply stepped up to the request of delivering a more comprehensive OST”.
Stratton also claims that in the album’s metadata, Gordon is credited as the sole composer and artist, with Mossholder listed only as a contributor on certain recordings. “We are at the point of moving on and won’t be working with Mick on the DLC we currently have in production,” Stratton wrote in 2020. “I’m as disappointed as anyone that we’re at this point, but as we have many times before, we will adapt to changing circumstances and pursue the most unique and talented artists in the industry with whom to collaborate.”
Gordon has now responded to these claims, describing the production of both the Doom Eternal in-game soundtrack and the separate soundtrack album from his perspective, and alleging that Stratton “lied” in his Reddit post.
“Marty lied about the circumstances surrounding the Doom Eternal Soundtrack and used disinformation and innuendo to blame me entirely for its failure,” Gordon claims. “Marty’s Reddit post severely impacted both my professional and personal reputation.”
Gordon describes how the schedule he was asked to follow to deliver music for Doom Eternal was “disconnected” from the game’s development. He claims that id Software stipulated that each month, he should provide completed music for two levels that would match finished gameplay, but that the gameplay presented as basis for the tracks was nowhere near ready for him to refer to: “Details on boss encounters, cutscenes, main menu design, game flow, story, lore and character arcs were still a year away,” Gordon claims.
Gordon says he proposed an alternate plan for producing the soundtrack but that this was rejected by Stratton. Gordon also claims that the creators of Doom Eternal “withheld” approvals on the music that he submitted, resulting in a pay freeze. “I was already pulling all-nighters two months in, and I still had 18 months to go,” Gordon says. “They withheld approvals — and therefore payment — for months. Beginning in January 2019, I went 11 months without pay.”
However, Gordon claims that, after completing Doom Eternal’s in-game soundtrack, he discovered that some of the music that had been rejected, and therefore not paid for, was still present in the game. “It wasn’t until after Doom Eternal was released that I became aware id Software had used nearly all the music I produced throughout development — almost five hours worth — while only paying for half of it,” Gordon says.
Regarding the separate soundtrack album, Gordon says he “crunched 18–20 hour days and slept under my desk” to reach the deadline of April 16, 2020. After submitting the music, Gordon says “Marty wasn’t happy” and would release a version by lead audio designer Chad Mossholder instead. “[Marty] told me to hand over my tracks, and Chad would assemble the final OST”.
Gordon then describes “utter shock” at hearing the album for the first time, saying he was “stunned at the ineptitude”. Gordon also claims that Mossholder was credited as “co-artist” on the album. “That frustrated me immensely. I crunched for two years straight on my Doom Eternal score, and the fact that someone else thought it proper to take the credit for my work felt like a cruel insult”.
Following the reception to the album, Gordon claims that Stratton arranged for the pair to speak via a Skype call, which resulted in them agreeing to “publish a joint statement that addressed the OST situation and detailed our plans to fix the album”. Gordon says a draft statement from Stratton never materialised.
Instead, the composer claims, Stratton authored the aforementioned 2020 Reddit post. Gordon contacted his lawyers, and eventually negotiated with id Software and Bethesda’s parent company Zenimax that they would produce a new “polished” version of the Doom Eternal OST in exchange for money still owed from the production of the game’s soundtrack. Gordon also apparently told the respective company’s lawyers that their acceptance of the settlement “was tied to the condition that Marty would remove the [Reddit] post immediately”.
This, according to Gordon, “prompted a spectacular meltdown. They withdrew the settlement offer and vowed the Reddit post was just the beginning,” the composer says. “Marty was willing to issue legal proceedings to use the court process to damage my reputation further”. Zenimax and id Software nevertheless, Gordon alleges, proposed a second settlement, whereby the Reddit post from Stratton would remain live, and Gordon would receive a “six-figure” sum on the grounds that they “could never discuss Doom Eternal, the OST, or the Reddit post”.
“I rejected the gag order and returned to the negotiation table with a counteroffer,” Gordon claims. “Remove the Reddit post, pay me for the extra music in Doom Eternal, and I’ll produce another version of the OST.” Gordon says id Software and Zenimax lawyers said they would consider this proposal, but that they “delayed” and “stalled” before once again demanding the same “gag order”.
Following the acquisition of Zenimax by Microsoft, Gordon says he approached the company again with a similar proposal, but was once again met with “more stalling, threats, and a giant waste of time”. He says his statement on the situation is published as a “defence, not an unprovoked attack”.
“Marty Stratton has put me in a position where the only step I can take to repair my reputation is with a public response,” Gordon says. “It is a defence, not an unprovoked attack, published as a last resort and with extreme reluctance only after every other avenue to reach a mutually agreeable resolution has failed.”
PCGamesN has contacted Mick Gordon, Bethesda, and Microsoft regarding this story and will update it with any further information.