Two years after the controversy over Doom Eternal’s soundtrack mixing highlighted a behind-the-scenes conflict between the game’s developers and composer Mick Gordon, Gordon is finally speaking out.
In a lengthy post on Medium, Gordon has offered his side of the conflict over Doom Eternal with an account that includes allegations that id Software failed to pay him for half the game’s soundtrack, and that executive producer Marty Stratton was a recurringly abusive presence throughout his work on the score and the OST.
For context, Gordon’s issues were first highlighted back in 2020 when the Doom Eternal soundtrack was released alongside the collector’s edition and fans noted discrepancies in sound mixing between the soundtrack and the same piece in Doom 2016. At the time Gordon pointed out on social media that he didn’t mix the tracks in question, leading Doom Eternal executive producer Marty Stratton to issue a public statement about Gordon’s work on the game. Stratton’s account included multiple concerns that Gordon would not be able to deliver his promised work on time, and ended by noting that they would likely not be working together again.
Now, however, Gordon paints a very different picture.
Mick Gordon alleges crunch and multiple pay issues
He begins by describing being given tight deadlines for final versions of his promised musical tracks — two finished pieces of level music per month. However, he says he lacked direction as to what kind of levels or environments those tracks were meant to cover due to constant development changes and missed milestones.
Gordon then claims he proposed an alternative scheduling plan to management that would allow him to write broader, reusable themes first that could then be shaped into final specific versions as levels were hammered out, but says that Stratton struck it down. This resulted made, Gordon claims, in severe crunch for him as he worked late nights finalizing music for levels that hadn’t been designed yet, only for that music to be thrown out later when it didn’t fit the levels after the fact.
Gordon notes that all this was punctuated by slow communication from management, him being cut out of meetings about the music, and increasing ostracization from the rest of the team.
That wasn’t all though. Gordon also complains of multiple pay issues over his time working on Doom Eternal, including at least one attempt to deny payment because id Software had “changed their mind” and no longer wanted to use the music he had provided, and other delays or deferrals of on-time payment. At one point, Gordon claims he went unpaid for 11 months. When the game and soundtrack finally released, Gordon says he realized they had used almost all of his music, including numerous tracks he had thought had been rejected, but had only paid him for half of it – and as of his post says they have yet I’m so.
Gordon also claims id Software announced the aforementioned Doom Eternal OST without ever having made a deal with him to produce one, and ignored his attempts to make such a deal. He eventually reached a contract Bethesda directly for a deal, and through multiple communication delays he got one for 12 songs, which he crunched to complete on time. However, Gordon goes on to say that Stratton once again got involved in negotiations, adding additional pressure to finish quickly and revealing that audio designer Chad Mossholder had been working on an alternative OST for months. Mossholder’s work, which Gordon says was largely edits of his own original score, ultimately formed the bulk of the final release.
“I never quit Doom, I quit a toxic client”
Following the release, Gordon related that Stratton scheduled a call with him to discuss the negative feedback to the OST that largely Stratton berating and blaming him for its failings. Gordon claims they ultimately agreed to release the joint statement and was expecting a draft to arrive in his inbox, when he was blindsided by Stratton’s publication of an open letter on Reddit instead, over which Gordon says he was harassed, doxxed, and bombarded with emails and phone calls. Gordon pursued legal action, but claims settlement negotiations fell apart when he demanded Stratton take the Reddit post down. At one point, Gordon says he was offered six figures to take full public responsibility for the OST’s failings, an offer he declined.
Doom Eternal (January 2019 Screenshots)
Despite months of back-and-forth negotiations during which time Microsoft announced it would acquire Bethesda and over which Gordon claims Stratton became increasingly hostile, an agreement was never reached.
“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 the stack of cash.”
Bethesda and Stratton have yet to reply to Gordon’s accusations. IGN has reached out to Bethesda for comment.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her her on Twitter @duckvalentine🇧🇷