A US court has ordered Facebook to pay $500m to Zenimax for using code developed by the gaming firm in its Oculus headsets.
Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus, sold to Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion. Things have not gone smoothly since. Luckey was found to have funded a pro-Trump trolling campaign and seems to be keeping a low profile at Facebook. Losing the court case to Zenimax due to a broken a non-disclosure agreement is another blow to the relationship. Perhaps more importantly, VR headsets have yet to take off in the mass market.
Facebook, however, is strongly committed to developing VR, pledging to invest a further $3 billion over the next decade to make Mark Zuckerberg‘s vision of Social VR a real world reality.
Facebook has certainly has the resources to pay a $500 million fine without too much difficulty.
The social media giant’s fourth quarter financials show robust revenue and profit growth, driven by booming advertising revenues and 1.86 billion monthly active users (and counting).
Just days ago Facebook announced that former Xiaomi and Google executive Hugo Barra has been brought on board to lead the Oculus team and help make VR mainstream.
In a post Zuckerberg said, “Hugo shares my belief that virtual and augmented reality will be the next major computing platform.
“They’ll enable us to experience completely new things and be more creative than ever before.”
So the Oculus ruling is a small bump on the road for Facebook.
The lightweight, affordable hardware needed to make Social VR a mass movement is likely to come from future R&D.