It had to be talked about, really. Yes, it’s the biggest story of the week: You can now fight stormtroopers in VR. True story. Whilst fans are jumping up and down at the prospect, however, another piece of news has come in which might just tip the balance of the biggest story in VR news. We’re talking, of course, of that Oculus lawsuit, to which Facebook lost $500m this week. James takes a look…
Star Wars VR We Must Have; Need Our Patience VR Does
(oh… and that Oculus lawsuit thing)
It hasn’t been a particularly good week for Facebook. Despite posting eye-watering results that their net profit nearly doubled in the 4th quarter to over $6 billion, that Oculus lawsuit ruling is threatening to overshadow what should be a very positive news story for them.
Even the story that Star Wars fans can literally fight stormtroopers in VR is not big enough news to knock this story on the head – can you imagine! The new VR experience in LA sounds amazing… did I mention that you can fight robots too!?
It is several years ago now that I woke up to the news that Facebook had purchased Oculus. I remember laying there wondering why this may have happened, not quite sure of the reason that a VR headset firm had just been purchased by a social media site. Over time it became clearer and clearer why they did this and, hence, it became the new normal.
The Facebook Oculus Lawsuit News
This week, it was found that there were two negative consequences of that deal, which was settled in 2014. Firstly, and perhaps most damagingly, the Oculus lawsuit that had been brought on Facebook was settled, resulting in a payout of $500 million.
The crux of the Oculus lawsuit was that Palmer Luckey had a non-disclosure agreement in place with Zenimax, and found that, whilst the Oculus Rift, the headset at the centre of the claims, wasn’t an unlawful copy, Oculus had breached a contract with Zenimax and infringed some of its copyright.
Interestingly, it had also found that John Carmack, a previous employee at Zenimax, took intellectual property belonging to Zenimax when he left the firm to join Oculus as its full-time chief technology officer. Essentially, the jury heard that he made “non literal copies of code” used to develop the Oculus product; imagine a book being copied and the names of the characters being changed. He still refutes the claims.
Whichever way you look at it, this isn’t good news but perhaps more worrying is the call for patience this week by Mark Zuckerberg. While discussing the results mentioned above with investors, he admitted that the company’s VR ambitions are “a little behind from where we want to be”.
He added that the delayed shipments of the company’s Oculus Rift VR headset and touch controllers were a “disappointment” and that VR sales “won’t be profitable for quite a while.”
All this said and done, Zuckerberg had said in the trial that they were looking to invest a further $3 billion in the technology over the next decade. According to reports, they have just recruited Hugo Barra, the most prominent global executive at Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi and a former Google exec, to lead its virtual reality business.
As such, a little patience is needed, and perhaps we all just need to pop to LA and have it out with some stormtroppers while we wait to see what the real outcome of VR will be.
James Dearsley is the Founder and MD of TDMB. In addition to his work with us, he is also a renowned expert in PropTech, and was recently voted the most influential person in PropTech. An impassioned speaker and advocate of technology, particularly in the Property industry, his other interests include beekeeping, real ale, green trousers, and (currently) growing a beard.