Oculus and Epic Games share a strong and fascinating partnership that’s grown over the past few years. Last night’s Game Developer Choice Awards showed why.
Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney was this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing the work he and his company have done building the Unreal Engine development toolkit over the past two and a half decades, as well as creating blockbuster titles like Unreal Tournament and Gear of War. Handing him the prize was none other than John Carmack, another videogame industry legend and current CTO of Oculus.
“You get a lifetime achievement award for making a lot of great games, or for developing important technologies, or for building a great company that has an impact on the entire industry,” Carmack said after confidently striding onto the stage. “Now, clearly, Tim Sweeney has done all of the above, so this is a really easy call to make here.”
He said that, “by the logic of videogames” the two should be “arch-rivals” that are “destined to do battle in virtual reality with functional weapons.” It’s true; Carmack’s former company, id Software, competed with Epic in the shooter space with its Quake franchise, and both are known for pushing the boundaries of PC gaming. Ultimately, Carmack decided he should instead just “admire the work of an esteemed peer”, adding that there was “a lot to admire over the years”.
— Brendan Iribe (@brendaniribe) March 2, 2017
Taking the stage, Sweeney said the award “meant a lot” coming from Carmack. In his acceptance speech, he talked about the progress the industry had made, and also the challenges it was facing.
Over the past few years Epic has closely aligned itself with the VR industry, including building its partnership with Oculus. Yesterday the company even released a full Oculus Rift exclusive game, Robo Recall, for free, and Oculus announced its price cut on Epic’s GDC stage. But while they work together, Sweeney has been critical about Oculus’ approach to ecosystem, and its decision to build what he would describe as a walled garden with Oculus Home. Last year, he said the company was treating games from other platforms as “second class citizens“.
Despite being handed the award from an Oculus employee, Sweeney unsurprisingly didn’t stray from that subject in his short speech. “Recently you might have heard me speak up about the dangers of platforms closing down and the walled gardens getting ever increasingly higher walls,” he said. “I think we should all be unafraid to say what we think about these things and fight the good fight together so that all developers in the future have the same opportunities that I had back when I started Epic Games in 1991.”
Carmack and Sweeney have always prided themselves on speaking up inspite of the business dealings of their company, and last night was a great example of that.
Elsewhere are the awards, Owlchemy Labs’ Job Simulator walked away with Best VR/AR Game, and Pokemon GO grabbed Best Mobile Game.