The composer of Doom Eternal, Mick Gordon has finally spoken up about the controversy surrounding the game’s soundtrack, two years after it first became known.
Gordon wrote his response as a lengthy post as a lengthy post on Medium where he offers his perspective of how events transpired. He alleges that id Software did not pay him for half the game’s soundtrack and that Executive Producer Marty Stratton was a recurring abusive presence throughout the production process.
The controversy first came to light when the OST of Doom Eternal was released alongside the collector’s edition. Fans quickly picked up on the fact that there were differences in the sound mixing between songs in the OST and the same piece in Doom 2016.
Gordon had responded to these raised questions by stating that he did not mix the tracks in question. This led Marty Stratton to issue a public statement regarding Gordon’s work on the game.
The statement alleged that Gordon wouldn’t deliver promised work on time and stated that they will likely not be working together again.
And that was where the story lay for two years. But now, Mick is back and he seems to be holding nothing back.
Gordon’s story begins with allegations of crunch. He states that he was given very tight deadlines for final versions of music he was working on. He elaborates that sometimes, these deadlines were as close as two finished pieces of level music per month.
Gordon also states that he was given very little direction on what the levels would be like due to multiple changes during development and missed milestones on id Software’s side.
He goes on to claim that he had suggested an alternative schedule to the management where he could make less specific and more reusable themes that could be shaped into the final OSTs when the levels were done being designed.
Stratton reportedly struck the idea down, which resulted in Gordon having to work long nights to finish music for levels that hadn’t even been designed yet, only for those compositions to be thrown out when they did not match the final level.
Gordon goes on to state that he faced multiple payment issues when working on the game. One of the most egregious ones is when id Software allegedly attempted to not pay him for music he had composed because they had “changed their minds” about using it.
Gordon also recounts that he once went unpaid for 11 months.
Additionally, once the OST of Doom Eternal was released, Gordon discovered that id Software had used almost all of his music, including tracks he was told had been rejected. He also stated that he had only been paid for half of the songs and that the company has yet to fully compensate him.
Gordon also claims that the OST of Doom Eternal was announced without having made any sort of deal with him and ignored his attempts to make such a deal. He reportedly had to go over id Software and talk to Bethesda directly to get a deal for 12 songs, which he worked under crunch to complete.
Gordon goes on to state that Stratton got involved once again by adding additional pressure to complete the work quickly, while revealing that audio designer Chad Mossholder had been working on an alternative OST for months.
According to Gordon, Mossholder’s tracks were largely remixes or edits of Gordon’s score and made up most of the music on the album.
After the release of the OST, it received a negative reaction. Stratton reportedly called Gordon to berate and blame him for the album’s negative reception.
Following this, they both reportedly agreed to release a joint statement. However, Gordon was blindsided by an open letter released by Stratton on Reddit.
This letter caused Gordon to become the target of harassment, doxxing, death threats, and was bombarded with phone calls and emails. This prompted the composer to take legal action and according to him, settlement negotiations fell apart when he demanded that Stratton take his Reddit post down.
Gordon also claims that he was once offered six figures to publicly take responsibility for the album’s failure. He declined this offer.
The full account of what Stratton claimed and Gordon’s refutations of it are publicly available here.
For now, we will leave you with this quote by Mick Gordon on the issue:
“I’ve worked on some great games, built lifelong friendships and worked my butt off in the trenches with some of the best creative minds on earth,” Gordon concludes. “I’ve had many great experiences in the game industry. My ‘collaboration’ with Marty Stratton wasn’t one of them.
“I never quit DOOM. I quit a toxic client.
“Marty couldn’t accept that I never wanted to work with him again, and made his best attempt to send my career into a nosedive as punishment. He resorted to lies and innuendo that fell apart under the most basic level of scrutiny, then tried to bury the issue under a stack of cash.”
And of course, neither Bethesda nor id Software has deemed it necessary to make any statements yet. But we will see how long their corporate indifference will last.
In the meantime, this Mick Gordon issue highlights another facet of the gaming industry that rarely gets discussed: fair pay and good work conditions for composers, sound designers, and audio engineers.
One would think that given how important music is to gaming, composers would be beloved and taken care of by the companies whose games thrive off their music. However, this is clearly not the case.
We hope this story sheds some light on the struggles of the very real people who bring our favorite games to life.