The court battle between Facebook and ZeniMax was a nasty one, resulting in Facebook having to pay out $500 million by a jury who sided with ZeniMax that the social media giant stole code from ZeniMax during the $2 billion buyout of Oculus. The VR wars never really became the battleground some thought it would due to the lawsuit from ZeniMax, which put a halt to the Oculus Rift's momentum. Well, in a recent appeal, Facebook managed to come out of the situation somewhat gleeful because the $500 million that the company owed ZeniMax has effectively just been cut in half.
Bloomberg is reporting that Facebook's appeal for the $500 million verdict was met halfway by the court, with the company now only being ordered to pay $250 million plus $54 million in interest. It's something that ZeniMax's lawyers weren't too happy with, and even opted to call the jury's new verdict to cut the payout in half disappointing.
Facebook, however, is happy that the company no longer has to pay out all $500 million in the case, but will continue to appeal the current charges of $250 million in order to bring the payout down lower than that.
This all started after Oculus brought John Carmack on board after he had been working on VR tech while at ZeniMax in the Bethesda division at id Software. He was renown for developing the id Tech game engine that powered games such as DOOM, Quake, and RAGE.
However, when Carmack joined Oculus, ZeniMax accused Facebook of stealing code developed under its studio. It turned out that out of the 42 billion lines of code, seven lines were used that belonged under ZeniMax Studios, which is what caused them to get caught up in a copyright infringement charge.
The court battle dragged out for years, starting in 2014 and finally ending in 2017. With the appeal, the court case drags on just a little while longer.
What's interesting here is that Facebook has been seemingly spending more time and resources fighting off the court case rather than focusing on building up the Oculus Rift brand. The headset originally shipped back in 2016, but it's had a really rough go of it ever since.
The software library has kind of suffered in that time, as money that could have been spent on building up the exclusive VR library of the Oculus Rift was instead focused on keeping the device on the market given that ZeniMax was attempting to block the sale of the Rift on the marketplace. It would have been a scary time for Rift owners had that motion gone through.
Maybe with the case finally starting to wind down, we'll see Facebook get back to focusing on building up and building out the brand of the Oculus Rift to attract more than just the niche tech enthusiast. Facebook did eventually release the Oculus Go for $199, which is a cost-effective VR solution, but the company still needs to work on getting out compelling software. Maybe with the lawsuit against ZeniMax somewhat going Facebook's way, we'll see more support for the Oculus division going forward.