Latest Oculus Update Removes DRM that Blocked Porting Exclusives to Vive

After weeks of criticism from the virtual reality community, Oculus has removed the headset check in its latest software update.

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Jun 24 2016, 2:26pm

Image: Oculus.

Oculus has taken a lot of heat in recent months for attempting to block one of the virtual reality community's favorite hacks: Revive. The free, user-made software allowed users to buy games from the Oculus store that were exclusive to the Oculus Rift and play them on competing virtual reality headsets like the HTC Vive.

Today, it appears the Oculus has backed down from its attempts to block Revive.

A new update to the Oculus software that started rolling out to users today has removed the headset check. This check, which was introduced in a May software update a few weeks after Revive started making headlines in April, confirmed that an Oculus Rift was connected to the computer before users could launch an Oculus game. With this check in place, players who didn't have an Oculus Rift supposedly couldn't launch Oculus games. This was should have let Oculus protect the exclusive games it helped produce, fund, and which were a selling point for the Oculus Rift over other headsets.

However, shortly after the headset check was introduced, the author of Revive, a user who goes by the handle LibreVR, updated his hack to circumvent it.

Whereas the original version of Revive simply allowed users to play Oculus-exclusive games on other headsets, this updated version of the software designed to bypass the headset check circumvented Oculus' DRM altogether, making it easier to pirate Oculus games. LibreVR told Motherboard at the time that he had no desire to facilitate game piracy and discouraged Revive users from using it for this purpose.

Today, LibreVR told Motherboard that now that Oculus has removed the headset check, he has reverted Revive to the version which didn't facilitate piracy, and has deleted the code that included those changes from Github, where he's distributing Revive.

At this point, it's not clear whether Oculus has removed the headset check for good following criticism from the virtual reality community (including Valve's boss Gabe Newell), or if the same or comparable DRM will be re-introduced in a future update.

"We continually revise our entitlement and anti-piracy systems, and in the June update we've removed the check for Rift hardware from the entitlement check," and Oculus spokesperson told Motherboard in an email.

"We believe protecting developer content is critical to the long-term success of the VR industry, and we'll continue taking steps in the future to ensure that VR developers can keep investing in ground-breaking new VR content."

Update: Oculus has confirmed to Motherboard that it will not use hardware checks going forward. "We won't use hardware checks as part of DRM on PC in the future," an Oculus spokesperson told Motherboard.