Back in early February, a Dallas jury awarded ZeniMax Media 500 million dollars to be paid by Oculus, its owners, and the former CEO. John Carmack, co-creator of the Doom series, immediately lambasted this decision in a long Facebook post. Carmack had a lot of stakes in the decision as he was one of the original founders of the Oculus and its super successful Kickstarter campaign.
Now the prolific developer is suing ZeniMax for 22 million dollars for unpaid money when the media giant bought id Software back in 2009. While it’s true Carmack is no longer with id, he left after the buyout in 2013 to become the Chief Technology Officer for the Oculus.
But back in 2009, Carmack was the majority shareholder of id Software and while ZeniMax paid half of the $150 million acquisition, the developer has not seen the rest, whether in the form of money or stocks.
The lawsuit claims that ‘sour grapes’ is the cause of the lack of payment. This all goes back to the court’s decision in February where ZeniMax won over Oculus. Even though the media giant won, Carmack was cleared of charges relating to misappropriation of the VR headset code that he allegedly developed while at id. The document paints a pretty clear picture of ZeniMax trying to get back at the developer after the Oculus trial.
Defendant ZeniMax Media Inc. will soon be obligated to pay Plaintiff John Carmack more than $45 million in cash under the terms of the Asset Purchase Agreement and a Convertible Promissory Note by which ZeniMax bought the assets of id Software, Inc. in 2009.Mr. Carmack’s right to receive that money ripens no later than June 23, 2017, the eighth anniversary of id Software’s sale to ZeniMax. It is the final payment due to Mr. Carmack for the sale of id Software, the world-famous video game studio he founded and led for more than 20 years.
But ZeniMax clearly doesn’t want to pay. And while Mr. Carmack awaits ZeniMax’s seemingly inevitable refusal to honor its obligation to pay the remainder of the purchase price, ZeniMax is already in breach of the Asset Purchase Agreement and Convertible Promissory Note. Pursuant to those contracts, Mr. Carmack has the absolute right “to convert all or any portion of the Unpaid Principal Balance solely into shares of ZeniMax’s CommonStock . . . .”
As the saga of the curse of the Oculus continue on in the court of law, the future of the headset is still uncertain. ZeniMax has not sought out an injunction to stop the sale of the VR gear and it’s still available to the public as usual. This still could happen as the initial trial did find that the headset’s code infringed on ZeniMax’s patents.
Speaking of the media giant, they sent a response to the lawsuit via UploadVR:
“We have reviewed John Carmack’s latest legal complaint which is completely without merit. We note that this is Mr. Carmack’s second complaint against ZeniMax…
“The jury flatly rejected Mr. Carmack’s complaint, and found for ZeniMax. Mr. Carmack was personally found guilty by the jury of the theft of ZeniMax’s property, including thousands of confidential ZeniMax documents he secretly took when he quit his employment…
“In addition to those crimes, it was revealed by an independent court-appointed computer forensics expert, that upon receiving notice of the Oculus lawsuit, the files on Mr. Carmack’s Oculus computer were intentionally wiped–destroying the evidence, and that a sworn affidavit Carmack filed with the Court denying the wiping was false…
“Apparently lacking in remorse, and disregarding the evidence of his many faithless acts and violations of law, Mr. Carmack has decided to try again. We look forward to presenting our response to Mr. Carmack’s latest allegations in Court.”
While this ugly issue continues to ping-pong throughout the US justice system, it’s hard to see an end in sight. The average VR player probably won’t even know about the continued battles over the Oculus but the consequences could come down to a consumer level. Here’s hoping that Oculus curse is broken in the months to come.