Ion Storm

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Ion Storm Inc.
Industry Computer and video games
Interactive entertainment
Fate Merged with Eidos Interactive
Successor Square Enix Europe (Intellectual Properties)
Founded November 15, 1996 (1996-11-15)
Founder John Romero
Tom Hall
Defunct February 9, 2005 (2005-02-09)
Headquarters Dallas, Texas, United States
Key people
Warren Spector
John Romero
Tom Hall
Mike Wilson
Jerry O'Flaherty
Todd Porter

Ion Storm Inc. (sometimes spelled ION Storm) was a Texas based developer of computer games founded by John Romero, Tom Hall, Todd Porter, and Jerry O'Flaherty, under the slogan "Design is Law". Hall and Romero were former employees of id Software.



Ion Storm was founded on November 15, 1996 with its headquarters in Dallas. The company had signed a licensing deal with Eidos Interactive for six games and the founders planned to scoop up titles from other companies that were close to completion, finish them, and push them out quickly to bring in initial revenue.

In a fashion similar to other dot com busts, the company spent lavishly on office decor and facilities for employees.[1] The corporate headquarters of Ion Storm were located in Suite 5400,[2] 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) of space in a penthouse suite on the 54th floor, the top floor, of the Chase Tower in Downtown Dallas. Ion Storm spent $2 million on the facility. Lisa Chadderdon of Fast Company said that the penthouse location was "unusual."[3] For the first ten years after the construction of the JPMorgan Chase Tower, the penthouse location had been unleased.[3]

Russ Berger Design Group, a firm most known for its work in designing recording studios, was responsible for interior design of the headquarters. This included a ten-foot-wide company logo set into the terrazzo floor of the lobby and matching green elevator doors.[1] The headquarters included a "crash room," a dormitory facility with two beds, three couches, a VCR, a wide screen television, and two telephone booths. It also housed a gaming room with a ping-pong table and four arcade machines, a changing area, and a shower room. The headquarters included these facilities because many employees in the video game industry work long hours at a time.[3]

This location proved somewhat problematic. A notable problem with the office was that the sun shone through the glass rooftop directly into the monitors of the employees, forcing them to cover their cubicles with black fabric.[4]

Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3[edit]

The company's first attempt was Todd Porter's Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3. Dominion was already partially completed by Todd Porter's previous employer, 7th Level, and was expected to take $50,000 and three months to complete. Instead, development continued for over a year costing hundreds of thousands. When it was finally released it received poor ratings and equally poor sales. Marketing missteps included releasing the real-time strategy game on the same day Blizzard Entertainment put out its highly anticipated demo of StarCraft, which would become a defining game of the RTS genre.[4]


John Romero's Daikatana was meant to be finished within seven months of the founding of Ion Storm and was to use the Quake engine. From very early on in the game's development, Daikatana was advertised as the brainchild of John Romero, a man famous for his work at id Software in the development of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake. Time magazine gave Romero and Daikatana glowing coverage, saying "Everything that game designer John Romero touches turns to gore and gold."[5] An early advertisement for Daikatana, created by marketer Mike Wilson and approved by Romero, was a red poster with large black lettering proclaiming "John Romero's about to make you his bitch", a reference to Romero's infamous trash talk during gaming. Nothing else was featured on this poster but a small tag-line reading "Suck It Down," an Ion Storm logo and an Eidos logo.[6]

However, already behind schedule, the decision was made to port the entire game to the Quake II engine, six months into development. Daikatana, was released three years late in Spring 2000, after its promised launch date of Christmas 1997. The game was released to middling critical reviews, and an aggressive advertising campaign in 1997 touting Romero's name as the reason to buy the game backfired as fans grew angry over delays.[4]


Like Daikatana, Tom Hall's Anachronox was moved over to the Quake II engine. These changes brought costly delays to an already beleaguered product line.

John Romero, Warren Spector and Mike Wilson at the 2000 E3 Convention

Although Anachronox received critical acclaim for its vast storyline and characters,[7] it, too, was commercially unsuccessful on its release in June 2001.[4]

Deus Ex[edit]

Deus Ex director Warren Spector and
designer Harvey Smith

In late 1997, Warren Spector was asked to found the Austin branch of Ion Storm. By keeping well clear of the troubles at the Dallas office, Ion Storm (Austin) was more successful. It developed the highly successful and critically acclaimed Deus Ex. With the demise of Looking Glass Studios, Eidos Interactive secured the rights to the Thief franchise and together with Spector tried to relocate as many of the Looking Glass team to Austin as was possible.


Romero and Hall left the company after producing Anachronox in July 2001. On July 17, 2001, four and a half years after the company's creation, Eidos Interactive closed the Dallas offices.[8] The Austin office remained open to produce Deus Ex: Invisible War and Thief: Deadly Shadows until Spector's departure to "pursue personal interests outside the company" in 2004. A number of other senior staff also left at about the same time. After finishing their 6 game contract, on February 9, 2005, Eidos announced that the Austin office would also close, meaning the end of Ion Storm as a company. Later on, the Ion Storm website was shut down.

Games developed[edit]

Year Title Platform(s)
GBC Mac N64 PS2 Win Xbox
1998 Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 No No No No Yes No
2000 Daikatana Yes No Yes No Yes No
2000 Deus Ex No Yes No Yes Yes No
2001 Anachronox No No No No Yes No
2003 Deus Ex: Invisible War No No No No Yes Yes
2004 Thief: Deadly Shadows No No No No Yes Yes


The rise and fall of the company is documented in great detail in the book Masters of Doom.[4]

In 2010, Romero would later apologize for the infamous advertisement. Romero stated in an interview that "up until that ad, I felt I had a great relationship with the gamer and the game development community and that ad changed everything. That stupid ad. I regret it and I apologize for it."[9]

The critical and commercial failure of Daikatana was a major contributing factor in the closure of Ion Storm's Dallas office. ScrewAttack named this game the #7 bust on their 2009 "Top 10 Biggest Busts", which listed the biggest failures in gaming, due to its controversial advertising and the hype that Romero built on this game, which in the end turned out to be a failure.[10] GameTrailers ranked this game the #2 biggest gaming disappointment of the decade (the 2000s), citing the game's terrible AI for friend and foe alike, pushed-back release dates, controversial magazine ad, and gossip-worthy internal drama (among other things) as "the embodiment of game's industry hubris."[11]

Since its release, Deus Ex has appeared in a number of "Greatest Games of All Time" lists and Hall of Fame features. It was included in IGN's "100 Greatest Games of All Time" (#40, #21 and #34 in 2003, 2005 and 2007, respectively), "Top 25 Modern PC Games" (4th place in 2010) and "Top 25 PC Games of All Time" (#20 and #21 in 2007 and 2009 respectively) lists.[12][13][14][15][16] GameSpy featured the game in its "Top 50 Games of All Time" (18th place in 2001) and "25 Most Memorable Games of the Past 5 Years" (15th place in 2004) lists,[17][18] and in the site's "Hall of Fame".[19] PC Gamer placed Deus Ex on its "Top 100 PC Games of All Time" (#2, #2, #1 by staff and #4 by readers in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2010 respectively) and "50 Best Games of All Time" (#10 and #27 in 2001 and 2005) lists,[20][21][22][23][24][25] and it was awarded 1st place in PC Zone's "101 Best PC Games Ever" feature.[26] It was also included in Yahoo! UK Video Games' "100 Greatest Computer Games of All Time" (28th place) list,[27] and in Edge's "The 100 Best Videogames" [sic] (29th place in 2007) and "100 Best Games to Play Today" (57th place in 2009) lists.[28][29] Deus Ex was named the second-best game of the 2000s by Gamasutra.[30] In 2012, Time named it one of the 100 greatest video games of all time,[31] and G4tv ranked it as the 53rd best game of all time for its "complex and well-crafted story that was really the start of players making choices that genuinely affect the outcome."[32] listed it as one of the most important games of all time, calling its influence "too massive to properly gauge."[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Tetlow, Karin (July 1998). "Dallas Ion Storm". Interiors Magazine. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  2. ^ Directory of corporate affiliations, Volume 5. National Register Pub. Co., 2001. 821. Retrieved from Google Books on May 29, 2012. "ION STORM LP 2200 Ross Ave. 54th Fl., Ste. 5400 Dallas, Tx. 75201"
  3. ^ a b c Chadderdon, Lisa. "Demons Over Dallas." Fast Company. September 30, 1998.
  4. ^ a b c d e Kushner, David (2003). Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created An Empire And Transformed Pop Culture. Random House. 89. ISBN 0-375-50524-5. 
  5. ^ Michael Krantz (June 24, 2001). "Beyond Doom and Quake". Time. Retrieved July 7, 2008. 
  6. ^ GameSpy Staff (June 9–13, 2003). "The 25 Dumbest Moments in Gaming". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 2005-12-11. Retrieved April 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ Wolpaw, Erik (2001-06-16). "Anachronox for PC Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2007-01-14. 
  8. ^ Divine, Christian (2002-01-02). "A hardcore elegy for Ion Storm". Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  9. ^ 10 Years Later, Romero Apologizes for Daikatana Tom's Hardware, May 18, 2010 (Article by Kevin Parrish)
  10. ^ ScrewAttack Video Game, Top 10 Biggest Busts, ScrewAttack's Top 10.
  11. ^ GameTrailers, Top 10 Disappointments Of The Decade Archived June 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "The Top 25 Modern PC Games". IGN. September 27, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  13. ^ "IGN's Top 100 Games". IGN. Retrieved March 20, 2007. 
  14. ^ "IGN's Top 100 Games of All Time". IGN. Retrieved March 20, 2007. 
  15. ^ "IGN's Top 100 Games of All Time". IGN. IGN. 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  16. ^ Adams, Dan; Butts, Steve; Onyett, Charles (2007-03-16). "Top 25 PC Games of All Time". IGN. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 
  17. ^ "GameSpy's Top 50 Games of All Time". GameSpy. Archived from the original on August 18, 2004. Retrieved March 20, 2007. 
  18. ^ "GameSpy's 25 Most Memorable Games". GameSpy. Retrieved September 22, 2006. 
  19. ^ Leeper, Justin (December 28, 2003). "GameSpy Hall of Fame: Deus Ex". GameSpy. Archived from the original on January 4, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2010. 
  20. ^ "PC Gamer". October 2001. #10 out of 50 Let us count the ways. Deus Ex was a shoo-in to win the 2000 PC Gamer Game of the Year award (as well as receiving similar high honors from around the industry). With its genre-blending mix of roleplaying, first-person shooting, and action/adventure elements combined with multiple pathways to successfully completing missions, Deus Ex created its own genre -- the Immersive Simulation 
  21. ^ "PC Gamer's top 100 PC Games of all time". PC Gamer. February 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  22. ^ "PC Gamer's Top 100". PC Gamer. August 5, 2008. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  23. ^ "PC Gamer's Best 100". PC Gamer. August 13, 2007. Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  24. ^ "PC Gamer". April 2005. #27 out of 50 PC Gamer's Best Game of 2000 opened gamers' (and developers') eyes to "immersive entertainment" 
  25. ^ "PC Gamer Readers' Top 100: 20-1". PC Gamer. May 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  26. ^ Sefton, Jamie (2007-04-26). "PC Zone votes Deus Ex the best PC game ever!". PC Zone. PC Zone. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  27. ^ "100 Greatest Games". Yahoo! UK. Archived from the original on January 26, 2011. Retrieved March 20, 2007. 
  28. ^ Edge Presents: The 100 Best Videogames. Future Publishing. 2007. 
  29. ^ "The 100 best Games To Play Today". Edge. March 9, 2009. Retrieved 2010-11-17. 
  30. ^ "Gamasutra: Top 12 Games of the Decade". Gamasutra. December 30, 2009. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  31. ^ "All-TIME 100 Video Games". Time. Time Inc. November 15, 2012. Archived from the original on November 15, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2012. 
  32. ^ "Top 100 Video Games of All Time #53 - Deus Ex –". 2012-06-13. Retrieved 2013-01-07. 
  33. ^ Adkins, Nickolai. "The Essential 100, No. 70: Deus Ex". Ziff Davis. Retrieved 2014-07-04. 

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