ZeniMax Wanted 15% of Oculus for Carmack's Contributions

Continuing revelations during ZeniMax vs. Oculus court battle reveal more about the relationship between the two companies.


Palmer Luckey and Brenden Iribe took the stand yesterday and answered questions about ZeniMax's accusation that Oculus stole its VR tech. Luckey went in-depth concerning his development of early Oculus Rift prototypes and his relationship with former id Software/ZeniMax employee John Carmack.

The prosecution brought into question a Non-Disclosure Agreement signed by Luckey that pertained to ZeniMax Media's VR tech, and whether or not Luckey had informed Oculus co-founder Brenden Iribe about it. Luckey responded that as far as he could remember, he had told Iribe of the NDA, but that he could have been incorrect.

In the second day of the Luckey/Irebe testiomony, an email chain between Luckey and Iribe from 2012 was also brought up concerning Carmack's contributions to Oculus. These communications revealed that ZeniMax Media wanted 15% share in Oculus for Carmack's work with the then start-up company. However, Luckey and Iribe felt like 2% was more than enough. Luckey went on to state that ZeniMax's demand for a 15% share was "out of the blue."

As reported by UploadVR, the defense concentrated on emphasizing Luckey's role in the creation of the Oculus Rift, and his abilities as an engineer, which ZeniMax's 2016 complaint and yesterday's questioning from the defense had challenged. Luckey gave a detailed rundown of the prototype Oculus Rift headsets and his relationship with John Carmack. Luckey met Carmack in the Meant To Be Seen 3D forum, and Carmack's interest in Luckey's work on VR tech spurred Luckey to send him an Oculus prototype.

In April 2012, Carmack posted a review of the Oculus Rift prototype headset on the Meant To Be Seen forums, and stated he would be giving demos of the headset over the next month. In response to some of the concerns Carmack had with the kit, Luckey created an SDK to resolve them.

Although Luckey and Carmack demoed Doom 3 on the Oculus Rift during QuakeCon 2012, Luckey stated that he had never had access to Doom 3's source code and that later uses of Doom 3 were done with publicly sourced footage of the id Software title. He also stated that after a meeting with Valve he did not leave behind a headset or any executable files.

Brenden Iribe's questioning concerned his relationship with Palmer Luckey. Iribe recalled that Luckey had brought up the ZeniMax NDA sometime in late 2012 or early 2013, but it was quickly forgotten. Iribe could not remember whether the NDA had been mentioned during the Facebook acquisition of Oculus VR in 2014.

Iribe was also questioned as to whether code written by John Carmack was used in the official Oculus Rift SDK. Iribe stated that Carmack gave value technical advice, but that advice was not always taken. Iribe stated he saw no problem with taking any advice that allowed them to refine the Oculus SDK, but that it contained no direct code from Carmack.

ZeniMax Media vs. Oculus VR continues today. We'll continue to keep you informed with the latest news concerning the case as it becomes available. 

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