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Oculus Responds to Zenimax’s Claims About Carmack, ‘Stolen’ Code

Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift

Oculus VR has fired back at Zenimax Media’s claims that legendary game developer stole Zenimax-owned VR technology as he left the publisher to become Oculus’ chief technology officer.

In a followup to a recently heated standoff, Oculus VR has made an official statement in regards to Zenimax Media’s claims that John Carmack stole pertinent, virtual reality-based technology and coding upon his departure from id Software and Zenimax to help lead development on the Oculus Rift.

John Carmack is a revolutionary game programmer who is responsibly for revolutionizing the first-person shooter genre with his work on Doom and Wolfenstein 3D. His 3D engine designs have been used by numerous studios in the industry to help design other famous franchises such as the Half-Life and Call of Duty series. From 1991 until Nov. 2013, Carmack worked at id Software (which was acquired by Zenimax in 2009) and also for Zenimax’s subsidiary companies. Carmack recently parted ways from the company upon his discovery that Zenimax did not want to support the Oculus Rift technology. Rumor has it that the last games Carmack worked on for Zenimax before his departure were Doom 4 and The Evil Within, which were being published under Zenimax’s subsidiary company, Bethesda Softworks (of Fallout and The Elder Scrolls fame).

In response to Zenimax’s claims that Carmack stole pivotal technology, coding and virtual reality know-how on his way out, Oculus VR has responded with the following seven points, stating that it will prove ZeniMax’s accusations to be false:

  • There is not a line of Zenimax code or any of its technology in any Oculus products.
  • John Carmack did not take any intellectual property from Zenimax.
  • Zenimax has misstated the purposes and language of the Zenimax non-disclosure agreement that Palmer Luckey signed.
  • A key reason that John permanently left Zenimax in August of 2013 was that Zenimax prevented John from working on VR, and stopped investing in VR games across the company.
  • Zenimax canceled VR support for Doom 3 BFG when Oculus refused Zenimax’s demands for a non-dilutable equity stake in Oculus.
  • Zenimax did not pursue claims against Oculus for IP or technology, Zenimax has never contributed any IP or technology to Oculus, and only after the Facebook deal was announced has Zenimax now made these claims through its lawyers.
  • Despite the fact that the full source code for the Oculus SDK is available online (developer.oculusvr.com), Zenimax has never identified any ‘stolen’ code or technology.

Carmack made an initial response to Zenimax’s claims earlier last week by Tweeting that his work was never patented during his years at Zenimax. He also claims that he is fully aware that Zenimax owns the coding that he wrote for the company. However, Carmack also stated that Zenimax does not solely own the rights to VR technology.

Stay tuned as we will continue to provide updates on this controversial story once more information (hopefully in the form of an official response by Zenimax) is made available.

Next: Oculus Rift Plays Metroid Prime

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