Mick Gordon, known for his work on soundtracks for several games including the Wolfenstein and Doom series, has released a statement in response to accusations made against him by Marty Stratton in May 2020.
In April 2020, Gordon distanced himself from the soundtrack album for Doom Eternal after it received criticisms from fans on its quality. This led to speculation from fans about its production, and Stratton, who was working as executive producer on Doom Eternal, posted an open letter to the Doom subreddit to address rumours.
A year and a half later, Gordon has written a lengthy statement rebutting Stratton’s claims, with screenshots of emails and legal documents (with sensitive information removed) as evidence of the true timeline of events. He posted his statement on Medium, in which he alleged abusive behaviour and manipulation by Stratton. Gordon stated he has released it to defend himself, and urged people to not use it as an excuse for a hate campaign.
Gordon claimed Stratton lied about the production of the Doom Eternal soundtrack album, and accused Stratton of using disinformation to place the blame on Gordon. He also accused id Software of using tracks and edits for the in-game score which he submitted to them in “good faith”, rather than as part of his contract, without paying him for them.
The events have been laid out in chronological order by Gordon and paint a messy picture of development. He claimed he was originally asked to work on the in-game music and provide final tracks at a rate of two levels per month. He called the schedule “tight, although not impossible”. However, he claimed id did not provide any gameplay or level design material to aid him with composition, making it difficult. Other issues such as slow communication and a contract delay put the music schedule behind where it should have been.
Gordon said he proposed a different plan for development which would allow him to make changes to the music further down the line if necessary. His proposal was immediately rejected by Stratton, he claimed. “He threw the proposal back in my face and proceeded to tear me down for having the audacity to raise the issue,” Gordon wrote, adding that he was already working all-nighters in order to meet id’s demands, despite the game still being in an early state of development.
Gordon claimed his contract was for 142 minutes, but the number of minutes he submitted to id was “more than double” that amount due to requests for rewrites or outright rejections of his work. Pay was withheld from him, he has claimed, and in 2019 he alleges he did not receive a payment from id for 11 months. Gordon stated he later realised much of his work had been included in the game without his knowledge, and has yet to receive payment for their use.
Gordon has also now described the events which surrounded the Doom Eternal soundtrack album. The album was announced at E3 2019 with his name attached, but he claims he hadn’t been told about it. “I hadn’t been offered a contract to produce it… I learned about it in the media,” he wrote.
After contacting id, Gordon said Stratton refused to give him a contract for the album. As developers crunched on Doom Eternal in a push to reach the game’s original release date of 22nd November 2019, Gordon said he considered quitting the project due to withheld payments, unreasonable requests and lack of transparency between him and management.
In January 2020, Gordon contacted publisher Bethesda regarding the album, who negotatiated a deal directly with him. Payment for an earlier album he had completed for Bethesda was rolled into the contract for the Doom Eternal album. Gordon has claimed Stratton lied about the contract in his Reddit post. While Stratton said the contract was signed in January 2020 wwith a deadline of early March, Gordon claimed the contract was signed on 18th March with a dealine of 16h April. Gordon also stated his contract was only for 12 songs, and he did not have the time or budget for the 30 tracks Stratton said he had committed to.
Other contradictions include Stratton’s claim that the soundtrack was delayed by Gordon’s request, whilst Gordon stated he had not signed the contract for the album when the delay was announced. Stratton claimed Gordon was given “complete creative control” over what he delivered, whilst Gordon stated the terms of his contract gave creative control to id, as well as his source files.
Shortly before the album was released, Gordon learnt id had been creating an album for six months already. He wasn’t happy with the tracks lead audio designer Chad Mossholder had created, which prompted him to confirm his limited involvement once fans who had noticed its poor quality. Gordon claimed Stratton got involved with the album a few days before it was due, who cut him out of the process. Gordon said he was not allowed to listen to the album before release, and also alleged many co-contributors were not credited by id.
Stratton demanded a call following the reception to the album. Gordon said he agreed to release a joint statement with id, and claimed Stratton agreed to send him a draft statement. The draft never arrived, and instead Stratton posted his open letter on Reddit. Gordon said he got his lawyers involved because of the false accusations made against him by Stratton and the unpaid minutes. After presenting evidence to id’s parent company Zenimax, Gordon said they “quickly offered to settle”.
However, according to Gordon, settlement negotiations fell through. Gordon wanted Stratton to retract his Reddit statement, whilst Zenimax refused. He claimed he was instead offered a six-figure sum to take “full public responsibility for the failure of the OST”, and he wouldn’t be allowed to discuss Doom Eternal or criticise Stratton or Zenmiax.
Negotiations on the settlement continued to go nowhere, Gordon claimed, as Zenimax used stalling tactics and legal threats to coerce him into agreeing. Gordon refused to sign any settlements Zenimax proposed. “Giving up my right to tell the truth just to get some money was totally unacceptable. It meant having Marty walk all over me wasn’t so bad as to be beyond being paid off.”
“The only thing left to do is issue this public response,” Gordon wrote near the end of his statement. The harrassment and abuse from toxic parts of the community combined with the allegations from Stratton have left him in a position where his only option is to speak publicly about what happened, he said. “Using NDAs, settlements and gag orders to silence truths is an appalling tactic used by people in high positions of power fearful of accountability. I am choosing to speak out because the alternative was to accept that tactic as okay.”
Bethesda did not immediately respond to Eurogamer’s request for comment.