Oculus Rift release date, price and system requirements: Oculus overtakes HTC in key market

10/03/2017: Oculus CTO and id Software co-founder John Carmack has re-opened the legal feud between Oculus and Zenimax Media, bringing a $22.5 million lawsuit against the company.

The games industry legend is suing ZeniMax over the sale of his company id Software. Carmack claims that he is still owed a total of $22.5 million from ZeniMax's purchase of the Doom studio in 2009.

According to Carmack, he was set to receive a promissory note valued in excess of $45 million as part of the $150 million deal. He swapped half of that value for ZeniMax common stock in 2011, but alleges that the company is now refusing to pay him the rest of the money or let him convert it into stock options.

While it follows hot on the heels of another legal dispute between Carmack and his former employers, the two cases are not directly linked. ZeniMax recently sued Carmack, along with Oculus, its founder Palmer Luckey, CEO Brendan Iribe and parent company Facebook, over claims that Carmack stole ZeniMax IP in order to help develop the Oculus Rift. Facebook was ordered to pay ZenimMax $500 million after the court found Oculus used ZeniMax computer codes, but ZeniMax has also requested an injunction stopping Oculus from selling the Rift.

In Carmack's lawsuit, first reported by the Dallas Morning News, ZeniMax stated that the aforementioned dispute is the reason it is not paying up. Carmack's claim noted that not only did ZeniMax not charge him with breach of contract, Oculus was also acquitted of stealing trade secrets.

"When ZeniMax bought id Software in 2009, it agreed to pay a total of $150 million for that purchase. Now that the final installment of that bill is coming due, ZeniMax is simply refusing to pay," the lawsuit said. "But sour grapes is not an affirmative defense to breach of contract."

02/03/2017: As we draw near to the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Oculus Rift, Facebook has decided to reduce the price of the VR headset for the first time, dropping from $599 to $499.

Oculus has also cut the price of its Touch Controllers mere months after the Rift accessory went on sale, from $199 to $99. Additional Oculus sensors are also now available at a reduced price of $59.

The Rift and Touch Controller bundle, that previously would have set you back $798, is now available for $598.

The new prices are live today, although we are still waiting on clarification of the new UK prices.

"Last year was all about getting the hardware out there, getting the software out there really enabling developers to build great content," said Oculus VP of product Nate Mitchell, speaking to GamesBeat. "This year, the focus is really around bringing more people into VR."

As an added bonus, those customers who bought an Oculus Rift or Touch Controllers in the last 30 days before the price cut will receive $50 credit on its digital store.

Mitchell added that the cheaper price "should let even more folks who've been waiting to get into VR to jump in".

The price cut means the Rift bundle is now $200 cheaper than the HTC Vive, which with motion controllers is priced at $799.

The move is somewhat of a surprise given the Rift's relatively short time on the market, but it will certainly help Oculus sell more units.

But a cloud still hangs over Facebook-Oculus, which is still reeling from the damage caused by the lawsuit brought by ZeniMax. Not only did Facebook have to pay out $500 million, an impending injunction against the use of the disputed VR code could result in the death of the Rift entirely.

24/02/2017: ZeniMax, the video game company that successfully sued Facebook over VR intellectual property theft, has made good on its promises to try and block the company from monetising the code in future products.

Following its $500 million lawsuit, ZeniMax has now requested that a federal judge issue an injunction to block attempts by Facebook's Oculus to use the code, which if successful could limit the number of games available on the fledgling VR headset.

ZeniMax filed for the injunction on Thursday at the US District Court for Northern Texas, the same court that awarded in favour of the company earlier in the month.

"ZeniMax's motion does not change the fact that the verdict was legally flawed and factually unwarranted," an Oculus spokesperson said. "We look forward to filing our own motion to set aside the jury's verdict and, if necessary, filing an appeal that will allow us to put this litigation behind us."

Earlier this month, a US jury found that Oculus had used ZeniMax codes to launch its VR headset, and that executives, including Oculus founder Palmer Lucky, had violated non-disclosure agreements during the building process.

Speaking at the time, a ZeniMax spokesman told gaming website Polygon: "We will consider what further steps we need to take to ensure there will be no ongoing use of our misappropriated technology". The company also said it would seek an injunction to "restrain" Oculus and Facebook from ongoing use of the code.

The case came mere months after Facebook paid $3 billion for the startup, which was one of the first companies to start developing modern VR headsets.

What this means for Oculus remains to be seen, as the company has already distributed the disputed code to other game developers, and it has been used in a number of games available on Samsung's Gear VR.

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.