I’m Boycotting Zenimax And You Should Too

I’m Boycotting Zenimax And You Should Too
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When companies act against the interests of consumers, it makes sense for consumers to boycott those companies. The same is true when companies decide to take anti-developer positions. It only makes sense for developers to avoid those companies as partners, publishers and platforms.

Zenimax, the parent company of Bethesda (who make Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Dishonoured and more), has been engaged in a half billion dollar lawsuit with Facebook over the origins of the Oculus technology. There’s some details about it here, but suffice to say it’s all been ugly and unreasonable to date.

In the latest stage, Zenimax has sought an injunction as part of their ongoing lawsuit and in the process has gone from being simply a company that developers should avoid working with to actively acting against the interests of indie devs. That injunction would effectively shut down the Oculus store for the Rift and Gear VR. That would, in turn, deprive developers of the revenue they would expect from their VR titles.

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That, along with the way they’ve treated John Carmack during the litigation, is a strong signal that Zenimax does not care about developers or creatives in any way.

We have a Gear VR title currently in the Oculus store (Atop the Wizards Tower) so I’m not an objective observer in this case. Regardless we’re in no way dependant on those revenues to run our studio. In this fashion, we’re lucky. Many developers are not lucky in the same way, and many developers are 100% dependant on the revenue their titles raise in order to pay their staff and their bills.

For developers that have invested heavily in VR, Gear VR represents one of the best available platforms for actually getting content to the masses. Losing that avenue is a huge blow.

Zenimax is well known in the games industry for being litigious, but in this case they’re putting forward litigation which indicates they’re happy to attack and harm thousands of indie developers in order to try and hurt Facebook. No matter how this case ends, neither Facebook/Oculus or Bethesda/Zenimax will be changed substantially by the quantities of money involved. Indie developers will go out of business.

We (indie developers, solo developers, small studios, etc) have very little power when it comes to the actions of billion dollar businesses but the one thing we can do is refuse to deal with them. I don’t believe it is fair to destroy the businesses of small indies in order to attempt to make a point, especially when there are substantial other avenues available.

If Zenimax intends to treat indies with contempt, then I can only suggest we return the favour. I’m done with Bethesda games and with Bethesda as a company. I won’t be publishing with them in the future, and given the ways they’ve treated their talent, it’s hard to recommend anyone deal with them in any situation.

Look briefly at the situation with John Carmack — they bought iD software for $US100 million and they’ve tried to turn their ownership of that studio into half billion dollar lawsuit. Zenimax is a company that sees the people it works with as tools for litigation and exploitation. That’s an untenable relationship for any developer, and it’s also an untenable relationship for me as a consumer.

Carmack Is Pretty Furious After The Zenimax-Oculus Trial

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It’s a shame, I really want to play Prey. But I’d rather take a stand against the businesses that prey upon us, as developers and creators.

Morgan Jaffit is the founder of Defiant Development, makers of Hand of Fate and the upcoming Hand of Fate 2. This story was reproduced from Medium with Morgan’s blessing.


  • No idea what the beef is between Zenimax and whoever else, obviously Zenimax are a business and feel the need to pursue litigation in order to protect their own interests and those of their investors. Regardless of that course of action being right or wrong, and honestly that all depends on which side of the fence you sit, I won’t be boycotting anything. Apologies to the author, but if you disagree on a personal level then by all means take whatever action you deem necessary, but please don’t push your views on me.

    • He’s not pushing anything on you. You could have stopped reading or writing that comment at any time had you felt that aggrieved by it.

      • True @leigh, but I chose to read his argument and weigh it up to see if the points provided were valid rather than not understand his point of view and just wave it off as “little indie guy gets pissed at AAA guy”. I understand where you’re coming from though.

        • Oh totally, I didn’t mean at all to be snarky and chose to carefully word it that way!

          As a matter of fact I read this when it was on Medium. The guy just felt he needed to express himself. Kotaku states that, but doesn’t quite make it clear enough.

          This may or may not follow the same trajectory as other AU stuff and float onto the US site/other portals, but the author could unfortunately be subject to some absolute idiots who don’t choose the same. Kotaku always will have to deal with trolls who accuse them of hypocrisy but we kind of accept that’s the medium we are in.

        • You’ve read his argument, decided you disagree, and that (appears) to be that. I don’t see how they’re pushing any further their opinion onto you?

          • I think claymore35’s comment has to do with the wording of the article title. If it was something more like “Why I am boycotting Zenimax and feel others should as well” (okay, pretty awful, but I’m not a writer) then that would be an opinion piece, which is reasonable. But because he’s actively pushing for others to join him in his position by saying “and you should too” it comes across as a lot more pushy.

      • Well, the title does read “I’m Boycotting Zenimax And You Should Too”, so there’s definitely something being pushed onto us.

    • Seems to me that the “pushiness” is coming from the people whining about someone having a different opinion than they have. This bullyish behavior is most distressing, but I support your 1st amendment right to have, and publicly state your opinions, although I may disagree. Trying to dictate how and what the author chooses to write… Not cool. Grow up, kids.

  • I’m boycotting them until they make another Elder Scrolls game – or publish something cool like Prey.

  • If this was say, EA, or Nintendo, the whining would be loud enough to hear across oceans.

    But no, Zenimax is one of the good conglomerates, how I forget!

    • it is not often that you an i see eye to eye on a subject but im in total agreement with you on this Leigh. It infuriates me to no end at how Zenimax has been about get away with such bullshit moves just because of TES.

      First the was the Bulshit that Zenimax and Bethesda pulled on Obsidian with their Bonus due to Fallout New: New Vegas scoring an 84 on MetaCritic with reviews making the game down for being a buggy mess at launch ( it was) yet Bethesda was incharge of the QA testing, not Obsidian.

      Then there was the Prey 2 Human Head Hostile takeover attemp with the game being cancelled in its entirety because Human Head refused to be bought out by Zenimax. It would later emerge that Zenimax also tried to pull this stunt with Obsidian. it should be noted that Prey 2 was 92% complete when it was canned and given to Arkane.

      Next we have the fact that Bethesda refuses to speak to Kotaku because Kotaku(us) actually did their fucking job of actual journalism to give us the stories that ive mention. Not even Ubisoft, EA or Activision have pulled that shit and we all know how much they cop(rightfully deserved).

      Now lets get to Bethesda Game Studioes itself and the fact that they have effective been pulling a Homer Simpson. Just coasting through the years doing nothing to innovate, each successive game containing less and less (Fallout 3 had 5 full lots of DLC, Fallout 4 had 2 full pieces of DLC, 1minor piece of DLC and 2 items that added less than a free a mod would).

      Bethesda has also been able to some how have great review scores despite their games being buggy as all hell ( the bugs that were in New Vegas were all in Fallout 3 yet only New Vegas is called the buggy game) Infact its only been because of the likes of CDP-Red, Techland and Ubisoft that fir the first time ever Fallout 4 reviews sure people finally get sick of bethesda’s games being bug filled messes

      • I like their games. What happens at the corporate level doesn’t affect that.

        As long as they continue to make games I enjoy, I will continue to buy and play them, even if the board of their parent company eat fried puppies while wallowing in the blood of kittens.

        • you kinda should care about what their corporate level does seeing as they killed Prey 2 when it was 92% complete all because they wanted to own Human Head and Human Head said no thanks.

          Remember they have fucked over 2 developers and one doesn’t exist anymore because of them.
          I almost feel as if im frank grimes and bethesda/Zenimax is homer simpson.

          • To be fair, Human Head left the project in the hands of Arkane Studios when the contract ran out, and then a year later it was cancelled. The cancellation was not because of the attempted buyout, the buyout attempt was why Human Head left the project (I’m not saying they were wrong to leave given the extended requirements Zenimax demanded of them, I’m just saying them leaving was not the cause of the cancellation). Rather than continue the project left to them by Human Head, Arkane Studios was told to scrap the work they’d done and go in a different direction. A year later, they publicly cancelled the concept of a sequel (so cancelled Prey 2), and instead announced a reboot. So it really does appear as though they didn’t like the work that was done, rather than they cancelled it out of spite at a refused buyout.

            Also, regarding Obsidian, the bonus was contracted. When it comes to contracts, close really just isn’t good enough. Unfortunate for Obsidian, but you can understand Zenimax holding firm to the agreed terms. After all, why pay out money when you don’t have to. Chris Avellone acknowledged this. He also acknowledged they have repeatedly taken on projects without planning in advance, which has resulted in delays. Knowing how stringent publishers are about delivery times, those delays could well be responsible for the product being delivered in an unpolished state. Obsidian’s head has also stated he would be fine with being bought out if a reasonable offer were made so that he didn’t have to worry about being able to pay people project to project. He’d be fine with being independent too, but he wouldn’t mind being bought out.

            Now, go grab those cables Grimey 🙂

        • only you like Bethesda’s and ID’s games….. not ZeniMax,,,

          zenimax is a monster that gobbled your favourite games

      • Turns out that if a company constantly pushes out products that most people love one after another, most people will give them more leeway than other companies. Who would have thought?

    • Eh its a crap argument anyway.

      Zenimax feels that they have a legal standing to do what they are doing which potentially means money is on the line.

      If this was impacting EA, 2K or Ubisoft, he wouldn’t give a damn.

      His issue is that some indie developers may be caught in the crossfire.

      The indies might believe zenimax has other avenues to pursue, but maybe they are far more expensive or drawn out. All businesses make decisions in their best interest.

      Unfortunate indies get caught in the crossfire but we wouldn’t care if it was another big publisher/developer.

      It’s a double standard and I’m sure zenimax isn’t really displaying contempt for indies they just don’t need to show concern either.

      Just because I don’t stop to give a less fortunate person a bunch of help, doesn’t mean I hold them in contempt.

      It may just mean that I’m more concerned with looking after número uno. One can still consider and weigh up the negative impact on others without viewing them as worthless trash as the writer would try and elicit

      He’s against

  • Heaven forbid a company should actually object when former employees steal thousands of emails (which Carmack himself admitted), break NDAs (which was conclusively proven), use their technological processes and developments in their technology (which is what the $500m penalty was for, nothing to do with iD Software) and then attempt to stop another company (Facebook) from making a profit from that theft.

    Sorry, Morgan, but if you feel you have a right to get pissed at someone (and I’m not saying you shouldn’t be pissed, just that your anger is misdirected), it should be Oculus, who perpetrated the actions that led to this taking place, and Facebook, who failed to do due diligence in investigating the companys possible legal liabilities before investing so heavily in the product and opening a store, and who both then misled game developers about the legitimacy of their product. Zenimax are just trying to stop Oculus, and through them Facebook, from illegally profiting from using their product.

    Kinda how you, as a game developer, are probably against piracy.

      • Yeah, forgot that little gem. Also, the court-appointed expert proving that Cormack had recently formatted his laptop in a weak attempt to avoid having it used against him was pretty awesome.

      • What is wrong with poaching people? People jump ship all the time for more pay. It’s the way the job market works in some professions.

        • Jumping ship in itself is not a problem. However, going back to your old company and actively recruiting talent from it is heavily frowned upon. At best, it is considered unethical. At worst, there are often contractual clauses that it violates. I am not certain which is the case here, but it’s a pretty dodgy move either way.

          • Non-compete clauses are one thing, they limit people from applying their own abilities in the field they work in, which I agree is bs. But anti-poaching clauses are usually separate to that, and are normally intended to prevent mass-exodus of talent, leaving a company up the creek. Those tend to be a bit more reasonable.

          • In cases like this, it can be hard to determine what constitutes as poaching.

            Lets say you are happy working at a company on Project X, and the company decides it no longer fits with the company’s strategic direction and moves your team over to work on something different. Morale in your team drops and one of the senior developers quits. Next you see a press release announcing that he is working on something in the same field as Project X for a second company. If you apply for a job at the new company, would this be used as evidence of poaching in a trial?

          • If you approach the other company and apply there without active participation from the former developer, no, that is not poaching. If the former developer were to email/text/call you and tell you that you should come work for this other company with him, or his new employer approached you based on his recommendation, then that would likely be viewed as poaching. The difference comes down to the active participation of the former employee in the process.

          • Right, but how could you prove it either way? One of my ex-colleagues was subject to an anti-poaching provision after changing employers. Me and a few other colleagues met him a few times during that period at conferences and similar events. He took the terms of the agreement very seriously, but how would you prove what was said in those conversations?

            A lawyer is prosecution lawyer is going to look at any staff movements as evidence of poaching and then try to tie in any circumstantial evidence to support that interpretation.

            I’m also not sure why you’d have a problem with the general idea of “poaching” employees. Poaching can certainly hurt a company, but on the other hand anti-poaching agreements can harm employees. The judges found that the secret anti-poaching agreement between Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, etc had depressed the salaries of employees by removing competition (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-Tech_Employee_Antitrust_Litigation for details). People should certainly follow the terms of contracts they agree to, but I don’t see a reason to support anti-poach behaviour in general.

          • There, the agreement was between the companies to not attempt to hire employees from the other companies. This is unethical, as it decreases the need to ensure the employment conditions a company offers are superior to the potential competition. This differs from a former employee of the company going after his former co-workers and attempting to persuade them to leave his former employer and join his new one.

            Also, you need to remember that in civil cases, once the case reaches the courtroom the burden of proof is on the respondent, not the plaintiff. To get there, however, the plaintiff has to demonstrate sufficient evidence that there is probable cause to claim breach of contract. If that happens, the burden of proof is then on the respondent to demonstrate that the balance of probability is that a breach did not take place. Saying “he spoke to Gary in the coffee lounge, then Gary left to join the same company as him” would not meet this criteria. There would need to be proof in the form of written/recorded communication, or considerably more circumstantial proof, before that criteria could be met. Even then, however, as I said the required standard of proof is “balance of probability” not “beyond a reasonable doubt” as in criminal law, making defending such a case a lot more realistic.

    • I was going to say, didn’t they run a few articles 100% taking Zenimax’s side? As much as I disagree with the way American companies own their employees the laws seem pretty clear here.

    • I’m not on either side here, but I have to look at it impartially. Yeah it’s awful for the little guys who get caught in the crossfire, but what is the alternative? Let a potential 1/2 billion dollar problem “just slide”?

      I’m curious whether the article’s author would be upset if it was a small indie developer potentially shutting down the store?

      • Lets be honest, a small indie developer wouldn’t have the financial resources to go up against Facebook. They’d drown in the red tape and expenses before it ever went to court.

    • I don’t think they have an issue with the lawsuit or them defending their IP
      What they have an issue with is the injunction against the store which is very clearly going to target companies outside of the facebook. More than that is is going to have a much greater and negative impact on those developers than on occulus themselves.

      • Oculus makes 30% on every sale from the Oculus store, it’s a revenue stream built on illegal advantage. While an intervention to cancel the sales cut while leaving the store running would be in the better interests of the developers using it, my understanding is that level of fine-grain control can’t really be done with a court injunction.

        • Sadly correct. Whilst this sort of thing can be offered as an interim settlement agreement, the courts are pretty much limited to all-or-nothing applications of the law.

      • Again, though, that comes down to Oculus/Facebook having issued licenses to people to develop software based on technology that is not entirely theirs, and then offering a retail platform for that software from which they draw a revenue stream based on that software. I agree it sucks that the developers are getting caught in this, but to use an analogy, who should you really be angry at, the guy who stole something and then sold it to you and a bunch of other people, or the guy who wants his stolen stuff back?

      • Sure but the point of an injunction is to prevent illegal profiteering in the meantime.

        Sure they may have other courses of action to take. However these could take more time and money from zenimax’s coffers.

        And they could negatively impact others anyway.

        Let’s be real if this wasn’t impacting indies and just hitting big developers this guy wouldn’t care. Either care about the effect on everyone or don’t at all.

        It’s also unlikely that zenimax has contempt for Indy developers, far more likely they considered the impact on them versus the impact of not taking the steps they are, and found that their own interests weren’t best served by accomodating for the indies.

        That doesn’t mean they view indies as worthless.

        It might just mean that they don’t view a potential for multi million dollar losses as being offset by the potential losses to indies.

        Much in the same way I don’t view homeless people as worthless, but I’m also not throwing money at them or drastically changing the way I live to facilitate their transition to not being homeless.

        It’s a case of priorities and that doesn’t necessarily mean putting my life on hold to the benefit of others.

        Which I might do if they were of more worth than myself.

    • It’s a confusing verdict because Oculus were found not to have stolen trade secrets from Zenimax, yet somehow were still found to have infringed Zenimax’s copyright. The only part of that seems to be from where their “expert” determined that they did so through non-literal copying, which just isn’t a thing when it comes to code. And I believe the case is that none of the code from then with the DK1 is used with the Rift now, or something along those lines. So there’s very little reason for Zenimax to actually be filing an injunction on the Rift, and they’re only going to harm VR by doing so.

      It is very hard to get a clear idea of what’s going on, with everything filtering through partially-reported articles, armchair experts, anti-facebook sentiments etc. It’s shit that that expert’s testimony is apparently under seal and can’t be scrutinised, that seems to somewhat be the crux of the whole matter.

      • As I understand it, whilst the code wasn’t directly copied, the processes were. There was sufficient similarity between the coding that a parallel could be drawn between them, resulting in the conclusion that Oculus had used the knowledge of the former Zenimax employees to generate a sufficiently similar product that it violated Zenimax’s IP. As you say though, that is a conclusion drawn from a number of partial sources, and the actual expert testimony is sealed, so I cannot say conclusively one way or the other.

        • Except that’s not how things work when it comes to code and copyright, unless the code itself was directly copied then there’s nothing they can do unless I think if they had a patent for the concept, which would be another story entirely. But from what I’ve read about it everything as a concept that was dealt with at Zenimax was done so openly, so that they didn’t have any specific claim over it.

          • I believe you are thinking purely of software development, rather than technology development, which is a different kettle of fish. In software development, it’s all about coding, which is why as you say they would have had to almost copy/paste for copyright to apply. When developing new technology, in this case VR, it’s all about the process, and copyright law recognises that distinction.

            Also why I distinguished between the two above.

          • That seems fair, though everything about this has all been talking about the code so I’m not sure whether it applies. Haven’t seen anyone else bring it up at all.

      • It would be like how a fan remake of a game is illegal, even though they don’t use any of the actual game’s code.

        • That’s generally based on the assets though. If you made a game that played exactly the same as Super Mario Bros except it looked nothing like it but all the music was replaced with random notes, the sprites were all basic geometry not resembling the original at all and none of the characters named the same, then I don’t think there’s anything they could do about it unless the code were identical.

    • Hold up, did Zenimax have a product, in the sense that they had extant materials, technology, and/or plans?

      What was the point of the jibe at the end of your post? It might tangentially relate to your observation on Zenimax’s activity, if you stretch it far enough and look at it only from a particular angle.

      • Zenimax had been actively pursuing development of VR technology for years at the time of Cormack’s departure, and he had been an active participant in it. Whilst they did not have a final product (or at least have not publicised plans for one), they have extensive technological materiel that could one day be used to produce one.

        The point of the jibe was that a game developer would no doubt object if their product was plagiarised and included as, say, a mini-game in part of a larger game. Or copied illegally and then sold to someone else who then played it without the original developer receiving monetary compensation for it.

        As a game developer himself, Morgan ought to be aware that defending IP is an important matter, and preventing other people from unlawfully profiting from said IP is an integral part of that.

  • I’m not a fan of Zenimax, but Occulus’s business practices have been shady at best. Shrug?

    • Sure, he was working for Oculus on Zeni’s dime before jumping ship… but when faced with two soulless conglomerates in a messy situation, simply side with the one that’s making a product you really want. I’m sure inspired by the moral of the story?

  • I’ve never felt any need to buy a Zenimax game, but already disliked them for reasons I can’t remember before the lawsuit. Vaguely interested in going sailing for Doom at some point, but it’s a pretty hefty download so I probably won’t bother 😛 Either way, more than happy to continue going without them.

    • unless Bethesda get of their arse and fucking make a proper game, TES 6 will be their downfall. Bethesda has been able to get away murder when other devs have done over for not even having a quarter of the bugs or poor story telling that a Bethesda game has had.

      Compare Techland’s Dying Light to Skyrim:
      Both are Open World First Person RPGs with decent sized maps.
      Both Focus on melee Combat.
      Both have pretty forgettable stories and side missions
      Both support modding and have large modding communities
      Yet Melee combat in Dying light is engaging unlike TES
      Movement plays a part in combat. Skills(perks) actually change things up and are not just passive boosts
      Dying light also had no where near as many bugs as Skyrim or Fallout 4.

      Hell even Ubisoft who i hate with a such a passion that i dont touch their games anymore have made more alive open worlds than bethesda have. Animals will hunt other Animals and you have all the predators just gang up on you the player. Dogs wont go near stronger Predators. In far cry Primal if you have a Cave bear with you no other predator will even try to attack you unless you attack it first and even then they will likely run away most of the time

      I shouldnt even have to mention what CDP-RED has accoplishes when it comes to Open world RPGs

      • In fairness, an argument has to be made that:

        1. Skyrim was designed for the previous console generation, which limited them based on the hardware which was 6 years obsolete at the time of the release. Both of the games you have referenced were released on the current gen, which allowed a greatly superior game engine to be used, allowing greater interactions between in-game NPCs.

        2. Skyrim was released 4 years prior to Dying Light, and 5 years prior to Far Cry: Primal. Significant developments in game design have been made over that time, especially regarding combat.

        3. The original Witcher game was released in 2007, and was far from an open world game. It was less ambitious than Skyrim, had horrible load times for the relatively small zones it had, and had a similar level of bugs at release as Skyrim. Whilst most of this was addressed in the enhanced edition, they shouldn’t get credit for a do-over release. The Witcher 2, from 2011, was slightly more ambitious, but still not open-world. At release, it suffered from activation issues, performance problems, DRM-game interaction that slowed framerates considerably, broken questlines, gameplay balance issues and limited resolutions at which the game could be played. Whilst most of these were later addressed, again, they shouldn’t get credit for do-overs. The Witcher 3 was their first real attempt at an open-world game, and that didn’t happen until 2015, again 4 years after Skyrim, and again, on the next generation of consoles. I will confess, Witcher 3 performed a lot better out of the gate quality-wise than its predecessors, although there are still vids of whales falling from the sky, etc.

        4. I make no excuses for Bethesda regarding the bugs in their games years after release. Quality control has never been one of the finer points of Bethesda Game Studios, as much as I might wish I could argue otherwise, and their apparent policy of only addressing major issues in patch releases has done nothing to help that. But it could be worse… at least the game runs (see Ultima IX for reference).

        5. The storylines in TES V and Fallout 3+ games have suffered from the sheer scope of the world they create. The storylines themselves, when taken as individual elements, are relatively short affairs, but are engaging. The problem is that because they are based in a large world setting, being relatively short means that by the time you get to the next part, the impact of the previous part has more or less faded. This was very much not the case in TES III and IV, and I think a lot of that comes down to the world size. The bigger the world, the more you need to fill it, and the bigger the main storyline needs to be to retain its impact and not get lost in the mix. In this aspect, I strongly agree that CDP-RED has overtaken Bethesda, although I await the next set of games from them to see if Bethesda has learned from this.

        • ok remove Skyrim and replace it with Fallout 4 or replace Far Cry Primal with Far Cry 3 and my points still stand and even console hardware is given excuse except for the fact that Skyrim had the same issues on PC and now we can even look at the special edition thats been released and has the exact same bugs that were in the original to the point thast number one mod is still the Unoffical patch and the only change to the game was updating it to be 64bit. Compare it to other re-releases and remasters and those bugs get fixed. Even the Offical HD texture pack for fallout which comes in at a Hefty 56gig is no where near as good as some texure mods that you can get of the nexus that are only 2gig in size.

          I am sick and tired of everyone making excuses for Bethesda while other devs get crucified. I am sick and tired of bethesda’s last arse design of philosphy of “Modders will Fix it”. Its not a modder’s job to fix your game, its their job to make it better, to make it last longer. Fact is that with out mods and modder Bethesda wouldnt anywhere near as big as it is today

          • Far Cry 3 was far more limited in NPC interaction than Skyrim. And you fail to grasp that game engines have to be uniform across platforms. They can’t use one game engine to accommodate the console limitations and then use a completely different one for PC. Any game engine must be capable of being run on the weakest platform it is being developed for. Fallout 4 npc interaction was largely based on the game engine used for Skyrim, which I agree was a disappointment. They made significant improvements in other areas of the game design, and I will agree they ought to have done more with regards to fleshing out the actual game world.

            As I said, I make no excuse for Bethesda’s weak ongoing game support, nor their apparent policy of only fixing major issues in patches.

      • How much did Fallout 4 sell though? How much did Skyrim sell? How much did New Vegas sell?

        Lets be real here. People will buy a new Elder Scrolls/Fallout game because they are Elder Scrolls/Fallout games. Even with the bugs and shit, they are still fun games and loads of people enjoy them.

        Now dont get me wrong, I got bored of Skyrim and I have a bit of a passing interest in Fallout games more than anything, so I dont have any vested interest in this. But i cant see Bethesda falling on their sword if they make yet another buggy TES game.

        • Yes they sold a lot of copies but Fallout 4 is also the first game that people have actually stopped and looked at the poor shape its in to the point that more people have stopped playing it and have gone back to not just New Vegas and Skyrim but also fallout 3 because of how hollow F4 is. Even Skyrim people started to see how hollow and empty it was

          As ive said numerous times in many many many posts about bethesda, they are on their last legs, if they dont shape up and fix their attitude and lazy/lack of focus game design they will loose their customer base. A city in the Witcher 3 is an Actual City, A town in Farcry 4 has more NPCs than Diamond City. Hell GTA 5 is more lively had to deal with the same limitations as Skyrim

          • GTA5 feels more lively, but the NPCs in GTA 5 aren’t following generated routines designed to simulate actual lives unlike in Skyrim. The game engine is actually less complex. Same deal with Far Cry 4.

            In Skyrim, every NPC gets up, eats, goes to work, converses with other NPCs, goes home, sleeps, etc. The game engine simulates actual people living their actual lives. For a game at the time, that was a huge step forward, as opposed to having randomly generated NPCs spawn, walk past, and then despawn when they were out of a set range. Even most current games do not have that level of NPC complexity. And it is that complexity that limited other aspects of the game.

    • I imagine it will be like their other games.

      Huge. Buggy. DLC prioritise over bugs (unless the bugs are REALLY hurting sales). They’ll make it easier for modders to mod the game aka modders fix the bugs that the company won’t spend time or money on because they need the money and time to make another huge, buggy, DLC filled Elder Scrolls VII, with mod support.

      • Being fair, most of the problems with Fallout & Elder Scrolls comes from the Gamebryo engine. Thankfully apparently everyone is moving to idtech, so we might see less of this shit going forward.

  • John Carmack wears big-boy pants and can take care of himself. Zenimax can do what it likes. I’ll judge it on the games that it releases.

    • code is like art and music…. its basis and formation has been stolen for all eternity… thats how its formed and why its called art

      without imitation art is back to nothing

      • Except we’re not talking art, or game coding, or anything like that. We’re talking the operating code and processes for a virtual reality viewing device, which comes under the field of technological innovation. Completely different field to art and music.

        I’ll also point out that even in art and music, imitation that too closely resembles the original without reference or payment to the original can still get done for copyright infringement…

        • ///deltree
          notes are notes… and colours are colours, language is language

          i see the whole construct is what you are talking about here…. and to take the whole is really ripping it off for lack of better word, but thats the conundrum with copyrights and fair use

          • ///deltree (was responding to the old post, sorry)

            I agree that it’s a complicated situation from an ethical point of view. Cormack originally did a lot of the work, and it sucks that he can’t take the credit for it and benefit from it directly. But the bottom line is from a copyright point of view, that work belongs to Zenimax, not him, and because he used knowledge of the processes to construct something very similar to what he had achieved at Zenimax (even if not the same coding), Zenimax now has him nailed to the wall.

          • Thanx,,,,, I got schooled…and feel bad now…. there is obviously much more than the surface that I scrape…

            the emails must have had some good code to pick from

      • Excuse me while I go steal copies of all of your family photos and sell them on to dodgy companies.

  • Wait i thought it had been established zenimax had a case and had had emails and data stolen by Carmack? Isn’t it their right to protect their own code? Sure it sucks for the devs using that platform but if it’s currently involved in litigation that’s occulus fault for stealing data.

    • nope, occulas was find for breaching an NDA they were not done for copyright infringment or stealing code

      • Actually, $50mil of the fine was for copyright infringement, and a further $250mil was for false designation. Only $200mil of the fine was actually for breaching the NDA.

  • Sorry champ. As with others here, I’m not boycotting Zenimax for defending their rights and their tech. It does suck to be in your position as a VR developer, I was previously in games development and understand what it feels like when a platform is pulled out from under your feet.

    But your frustration should be directed at Oculus, not at Zenimax, because it was Oculus that did the wrong thing. If I stole core work from your game Atop the Wizards Tower and started making money off it, and you sued to protect your rights, should the people who bought my version of the game be angry at you? Of course not, they should be angry at me. Likewise, you shouldn’t be angry at Zenimax for protecting their rights, you should be angry at Oculus for putting you in this position in the first place.

  • Haha no.
    I could care less how companies do business, as long as they keep producing good games.
    Konami for instance ditched their best asset and now they’re producing complete trash.
    As for indie developers, at risk of sounding like a real dick, I could honestly care less. The only indie games I’ve enjoyed playing were Joe Danger and Limbo.
    The Witness, Fez, Super Meat Boy etc. all got bulk critical acclaim and yet they all felt like mediocre flash games that would have been free to play 8 years ago.
    Besides, why wouldn’t Zenimax want to protect their IP?
    There’s no denying their case.
    Suck it up, or have your own petty little protest. Zenimax will live on just fine without you.

    • You have shit taste in games, and it’s ‘couldn’t‘ care less. You would care how they do business if you were involved in the industry or an employee, but I guess empathy/understanding is also beyond your scope.

      • Well excuse me for preferring games with more than one shallow mechanic.
        I appreciate that indy developers are able to take more risks, but more often than not they just make mediocre sideacrollers that play worse than they did in the SNES days.
        P.S. I know it SHOULD be ‘couldn’t care less’ but have you ever actually heard anyone say it that way IRL?
        Also, I bust my arse 5-6 days a week working a job I hate but need to pay bills so I have no sympathy for people workin cushy office jobs doing what they love.

    • As for indie developers, at risk of sounding like a real dick, I could honestly care less.

      You’re right, you do sound like a real dick! An illiterate and over opinionated one too…

  • So to echo the author, me pirating movies and games and what not is fine and if Villiage Roadshow tries to sue me everyone should just boycott them?

  • VR can is sooooo overrated, and sooooo overpriced, and it can soooooo piss off out of this planet.

  • Zenimax – legal entity established to make a return on investment.

    Morgan Jaffit – person who established a legal entity to make a return on investment.

    I think it’s a bit unfair to throw stones at a business that is protecting its interests just because that might adversely affect your own interests. Someone below Defiant Development in the foodchain is going to suffer from decisions made by Defiant Development at some point. Does that mean they should they call for a boycott of Defiant Development?

  • Carmack copped squat out of the whole litigation process, even though he openly admitted to stealing code. The conduct of Facebook and Oculus in the whole deal is questionable at best. Zuckerberg pretty much lied openly in the courtroom, the company did not perform due dilligence, and the poached staff and intellectual property from multiple companies including Valve. I’m just glad that Valbe was able to quickly team up with HTC and bring the vive to bear, otherwise we would have been left with VR in the most horrible form of an orwellian walled garden that facebook was pursuing.
    This article presents Carmack like the victim, he knew what he was doing when he stole code, he then proceeded to wipe all his harddrives clean, clearly the work of the innocent. Plus this is Zennimax veraus facebook, not zenimax versus some little indy studio. As poor as some practices of Zenimax are, facebook is absolutely abbhorent in their relationship to their customers and business practices. Zuckerberg openly admits it. Anyone that punches facebook in the gut is alright by me.

  • I’m not too fussed by whatever is happening with Zenmiax right now. Unless their next open world games actually look interesting and alive, I’ll just stick with other developers. A real shame since I bloody loved FO3 and NV. Admittedly I played around 50 hours of Skyrim but once the wanderlust of exploring the world faded, I couldn’t get pass the combat (utter rubbish). Skyrim’s failing were made painfully obvious after I played Witcher 2 a couple of months later, which while wasn’t a true open world, definitely felt more alive to me. And yeah, let’s not even talk about Witcher 3, which I think without a doubt has spoiled the genre for a lot people moving forward.

  • Anyway, as most people can probably see, boycott of Zenimax over this, not going to happen

    (Sorry, original post I was replying to disappeared and now cannot get rid of this one… Damn you Alex :P)

    • over this lawsuit no, but add it to what we have already seen from Zeni/Bethesda (in my reply to leigh) and people really should stop givening Zeni/bethesda the free pass that it continually gets while other publishers like Ubisoft, EA, Konami, Activision, Blizzard and Valve cop

  • Just going to put this here because there’s been a couple of comments that are a bit confused about where all of this is coming from.

    The article is from an Australian developer providing his perspective on the recent Zenimax/Oculus lawsuit, its effect on developers and his stance as a result of that. It’s unrelated to the relationship between Kotaku and Bethesda/Zenimax in Australia or anywhere else, and it’s not a statement of intent on our part.

    I figured it would be really interesting to have some perspective on how things have played out from the case, a point of view people might not have seen, considered, or known about. Morgan kindly agreed to let me republish his thoughts, and I’m happy he did. It’s good to have different points of view, and while most people understand and are cool with that, a few have gotten confused. So I just wanted to clear that up.

    Re. the disclosure at the bottom @leigh: it’s the same we’ve used in the past when other developers have contributed to the site. I can maybe extend the hyperlink to cover a few more words; would that make it a little clearer visually?

    • Don’t worry mate, I’m fairly sure the vast majority of us understood it wasn’t Kotaku talking. Most of the first post is simply referring to the pushy wording of the title the original author used. Any confusion subsequent to that probably stems from the fact that the disclosure is at the bottom of the article and easy to gloss over whilst reading the comments, as opposed to at the top of the article or near the author’s name in the header (without noticing the disclaimer, it makes it seem like Morgan is a Kotaku contributor/Staff member), but as I said, fairly sure most of us got it 🙂

    • That’s for greater minds than mine, dude. It’s like I pointed out in the paragraph after that comment (in my comment, hah!), it’s no fault of the original author – or the site – if someone interprets Jaffit completely differently from what he’s intended.

      I don’t exactly agree with everything he’s saying either, but this is what people visiting this site should be hoping we see more of – local, real-deal Aussie developers telling us what’s it really like.

      With the reception received today, I’m not sure why any others would want to follow Jaffit’s lead and offer their own thoughts from where they sit any time soon. On any matter. That’s the real shame.

      Jon Blow used to seek out anything written about him or his games and have it out with commenters, mano e mano. I don’t think that’s exactly the right way to go about things either, but still, the bloke has more of a right to an opinion on this issue than I sure do.

      • I have to admit, I would love to have a discussion with Morgan and find out exactly what his reasoning for directing his anger at Zenimax rather than Oculus is, and debate it with him. I certainly don’t expect it on here, because as you say, such a conversation would be flamebait given the reception of some people. I hope he doesn’t take my criticism of his argument in the article as criticism of his position though. I understand his frustration, and maybe there are considerations he hasn’t postulated in his article that support his position in targeting Zenimax and not Oculus. I simply feel the arguments he gave in the article were not supported by the facts of the case.

  • Wait, your argument doesn’t make sense. Zenimax aren’t trying to “Destroy” you or any other indie business. They are trying to win a fight against Oculus. You are not the target. That you could lose business opportunities as a result of the lawsuit doesn’t mean that Zenimax are targeting you.

    I am not a lawyer, nor am I a judge, but here’s the thing – Zenimax think they have a real legal case against Oculus. If they genuinely think they are the aggreived party, don’t they have a right to challenge Oculus in court? Say you run a business in, I don’t know, food processing and packaging. Your company invents a new preservative that helps food stay fresher. But one of your chemists, despite signing an NDA, goes to your rival food processing firm and gives them your new preservative. Legally, you’d be right to sue the chemist and the employee. But say your rival firm pleads “NO, don’t sue us! One hundred local stores depend on us to stay in business!” – that’s akin to using innocents as a shield for your crimes. You can’t say “I don’t deserve to be puinshed for my actions, as punishing me indirectly hurts innocent people”.

    I don’t know if Oculus is guilty, or if Zenimax has a case. But your entire argument boils down to – “if oculus goes under, my friends will be hurt, therefore how dare anyone sue them”. And that’s not a sane or reasonable argument. Say a man steals a car and gets caught and says “YOUR HONOUR! HOW DARE YOU SEND ME TO JAIL! MY KIDS WILL SUFFER IF I GO TO PRISON! HOW DAAAAARE YOU!”. No sane judge would take that argument seriously.

  • yeah no

    1) in the grand scheme of things happening in the world and in terms of worthy causes willing to stand for, this one isnt even remotely on my list.
    2) not everything they make and not everyone they employ is part of this evil Cabal of typical big corporation nastiness. thats like boycotting a country just because they have a Trumpster in power.

    while I agree Bethesda has been taking the safe route, once again, you are blaming a small arm of a huge corporation for their sins. take your stand by all means but (all though I understand where you are coming from and the issue itself) all I can raise is a mere “meh” and a shrug of the shoulders. even in terms of huge corporations doing badness they are still at a “meh whatever” level

  • I won’t buy from Zenimax but not for all the reasons you listed above. If they wont give out early review copies that is a step in the wrong direction and I wont support it at all.

    But for Carmack? No. He stole files from the company and started a new one building the technology he previously worked on whilst having stolen notes. This likely wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t steal the files, which everyone knows is highly illegal. He brought it on himself and Facebook intentionally avoided due diligence and is liable for the damages. Rightly so. Zenimax shutting down the online platform with an injunction and it affecting indie developers? It hurts but if they don’t get a share of the company I can’t say I disagree with them terminating services that is based on part of their illegally take IP. Whether or not the notes were used is irrelevant if they were present and stolen as Carmack is smart enough to not use their codes directly to avoid IP issues.

    If you are hurt by that action then just sue Oculus for damages incurred from their unethical and illegal behavior. It’s their behavior that created this situation, not Zenimax’s. Even if they treated him poorly.

  • Power to the boycotters I guess……. There were definitely conflicts of interest in the case. But do we really know the full details on it? seems like a silly kneejerk reaction to me along with the weak ass boycotts against games or companies, no one has the spine to do so, remember MW2? lol.

    I wont be boycotting anything Zenimax over this, consumers or end users weren’t ripped off and i’m fine with that. palmer lukey (or whatever his name is) sold a product to facebook that he had crowdsourced and hadn’t even completed yet… while a great business decision it was not what people had funded the project for….

    Zenimax are nowhere near as bad as Ubisoft or EA when it comes to destroying franchises or ripping off consumers, and as a consumer of their products for years now I know i’m going to get value for money with their software.

  • Thank god finally someone is saying this! Gaming journalism isn’t dead after all.

    What is a shame however is that it took this major event for it happen. Zenimax and Bethesda has been shitting hot garbage for years now and no one ever react to this degree.

    • With respect, disregarding Zenimax’s previous actions, they are not the party in the wrong here. The courts ruled that. The evidence released by the courts supports that. Anecdotal testimony of the court proceedings supports that. I won’t say Zenimax haven’t pulled some shady stuff in the past that may justify some anger in their direction (but seriously, what game production company hasn’t…) but the arguments made in the article are not supported by the facts of the case, and can hardly be used to justify a demand to boycott the company.

  • Well, actually, I’ll only act against the company if they do something really dreadful, like ship a game without local servers, or release a game that looked better in its trailers. Unless this massive conglomerate’s actions directly affect me in my tiny little sphere, then who cares about they way they mistreat and manipulate the developers. They’re only the guys and girls who are working long crunch-hours, and going from project to project unsure of whether their studio will get folded before they even reach the deadline so the parent-company can show another percentage point of growth to their investors at the end of the year. These guys are only the ones actually creating the great games I love so much, why should I give a second thought to them? As long as the big soulless money-machine keeps on rolling, they’ll hire a new bunch of monkeys to make the next game for me, so who cares about how they treat the rest?
    Now where’s my copy of Fallout 5 already?

  • So many of you are so wrong on so many levels and while I do not know the truth either, I have followed this from day one. when VR was just emerging.

    Carmack started his VR work when still with zenimax…. he offered the VR work to zenimax but zeni said no they dont want anything to do with VR…
    so Carmack shifted his employment to Oculus BEFORE oculus was with facebook
    then facebook bought Oculus and the rest is history.

    The only thing Carmack (with Lucky) breached was a NDA… no work was stolen and that was proved in the latest court case.

    zeni is after a ghost in the mirror because they think they have a case, which they kind of actually do because they are going back on their word that they dont want to be involved with VR…. now they want to be involved with VR now its taken off…. they are two timing their decisions.

    EDIT: there are so many made up things and the comments are snowballing into one big ClusterF over this situation
    one glaringly obvious point is how can he take all those emails if he formatted his computer?

    • Carmack joined Zenimax, and began his work in VR as a project within a Zenimax company. This work went on for several years. He then left the company and joined Oculus, taking thousands of corporate emails with him. Those emails are the confidential property of Zenimax, as is the work he undertook on VR whilst he was there and the technological materiel he developed whilst there. Any work, innovations or ideas undertaken or developed whilst in the employ of the company is the intellectual property of the company and remains such regardless of the future fate of the employee. This is indisputable, and a common situation in corporate America and elsewhere. When he joined Oculus, those emails were shared with them. These facts were openly admitted by Carmack in court. He then went on to recruit multiple people from his old team, who joined him in Oculus. They then developed the Rift based on the technological processes he was developing at Zenimax. Zenimax approached them at this time regarding the Rift with concerns regarding the use of their IP. Facebook then approached Oculus and pushed through the purchase doing only 2 days of investigation, which is negligible when it comes to due diligence, and knowingly dismissed the claims by Zenimax without significant investigation. This fact was admitted in court eventually by Zuckerberg, after several attempts to deflect and deceive. During the court case, an expert examination was undertaken on Carmack’s computer by an independent court-appointed examiner. The exam found that shortly before the computer had been submitted as evidence, it had been formatted. The conclusion reached was that this was to deny evidence that could have further implicated Carmack.

      When the court award was given, it was broken up thusly:
      $50mil for copyright infringement
      $50mil each from Luckey and Oculus for False Designation
      $150mil from Brendan Iribe, former Oculus CEO, for False Designation
      $200mil for breach of the NDA.

      The conclusion we can draw from this, given the expert testimony given in the court outside of the facts listed above was sealed by court order, is that there was sufficient grounds to conclude that the processes and coding used by Oculus in the development of the Rift, whilst not sufficiently proprietary to classify as trade secrets, were sufficiently similar to that developed by Carmack and his associates at Zenimax as to warrant the charge of copyright infringement, which was then labelled as the work of Oculus.

      All of the above facts I have stated are freely available on various news sites. As you can see, it refutes your claim that no work was stolen. It also lays out the timeline, none of which is questioned by any of the other posts that I can see in this article.

      You are not the only person to have followed this closely 🙂

      • thanx for typing that out anonymous…. no-one can give a straight answer on the internet these days / report in full

        guess people should format the moment they leave a company and also clear the emails/ change passwords

        • No worries. Carmack knew what he was doing when he kept the emails, unfortunately. He openly acknowledged that what he was doing was wrong, but that it shouldn’t amount to stealing because “it didn’t contain source code, just snippets of source code”. Not the brightest of arguments when referring to corporate emails, especially when given his position with iD he clearly ought to know better.

  • Congratulations Morgan! I bought your first game but I sure won’t buy your second, and I will tell everyone to boycott it too. Your entitled whingeing is quite frankly mind boggling. Carmack is the dodgy party here, and you’re simply someone who made a business choice that is not working out for you.

    Zenimax are not ‘attacking indies’, and the hyperbole there is unbelievable. And as a world leading expert in hyperbole, I should know. They are defending themselves in a business arena against someone who took obviously illegal actions but thought he could get away with it. He didn’t, and while it’s sad you got caught in the crossfire, you probably should drop that one-eyed defense of him.

    Would you want one of your employees doing the equivalent to you? Didn’t think so.

    Kotaku giving you this platform is not a good move for them at all.

    • Please be fair to the guy, mate. He’s upset that he and other colleagues in his field could make significant losses as a result of this court case. His upset is understandable, even if his anger is apparently misdirected as the result of poor information probably fed to him by Oculus.

      I agree that his arguments do not warrant a boycott of Zenimax, but please, do not boycott his work based on this whiplash response to the situation by him.

      • I have more grounds for boycotting his work than he does for suggesting anyone boycott Zenimax.

        The reality is his work is, like many other indie devs, not to the same standard as a ‘big’ games company. Therefore purchase of his product is based on him pitching it at a low price and trading on the ‘indie’ notion of being an underdog and therefore somehow deserving of attention due to goodwill and a desire to support small business.

        Approaching Kotaku to gain a platform to write a really unbalanced spray piece is the best way to erode any good feeling a potential customer might have, and that’s what happened here.

        It’s business, and it’s a reason why a lot of indie devs fail.

        I’m not suggesting wild dogs eat his entrails, only that I will not buy his product. And pointing out that Kotaku basically gave this guy a knife to cut his own throat publicly in return for page views, which is not a very *ahem* ethical thing to do.

  • I apologise for my behaviour in this thread, its a sad state of affairs for everyone it seems and the rabbit hole went deeper than I thought, suing brings out stuff for all sides

  • Even if I agreed with you… they make some of my favourite games. It would be an empty promise if I were to say I’d boycott.

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