Oculus DRM Kills Hack that Ports Games to Competing Headsets
The developer of Revive told Motherboard that the latest Oculus software platform locked down his cross-platform hack.
Oculus has put the kibosh on a workaround that would let people play Oculus-only games on competing headsets, Motherboard has learned.
Back in April, we wrote about a piece of user-made software called Revive that allows games exclusive to the Oculus Rift run on competing virtual reality headsets, like Valve and HTC's Vive. Think of it like a patch you could install on your PlayStation 4 to run games exclusives to the Xbox One.
At the time, we wondered whether Oculus will do something to stop Revive. On one hand, Oculus has spent a great deal of money and effort to publish games exclusive to the Oculus Rift, which is a good way to convince early VR adopters to buy it over the Vive. On the other hand, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey previously said that players could mod games in order to play them on "whatever they want" as long as they buy the games from Oculus' online store. That way Oculus still makes money on every sale, even if the Rift as a platform loses some of its edge over Vive.
One could argue that Oculus would sell more games if players could play them on whatever platform they wanted, but not having exclusive games gives them less reason to buy a Rift as opposed to another platform. For example, Microsoft would sell more games if it sold Halo on PlayStation 4, but then people would have less of a reason to buy an Xbox One. It's a platform play.
Today, the developer of Revive, who identifies simply as Libre VR, told Motherboard that a recent update to Oculus software has killed his hack. The update, which is still being rolled out to Oculus users, includes new "updated to platform integrity checks."
According to Libre VR, what seems to be happening is that Oculus' DRM now checks to see whether an Oculus Rift is connected to the PC when playing a game bought from the Oculus store.
"While this helps prevent piracy from people who didn't buy an Oculus Rift, it doesn't do anything to prevent piracy from those who did buy an Oculus Rift," Libre VR told Motherboard. "And this clearly excludes anyone who bought the game, but didn't buy an Oculus Rift. Even if Revive wasn't targeted, they were probably more than aware of the collateral damage."
Oculus told Motherboard that the update didn't target a specific hack, and that the added security improvements were designed to curb piracy and protect content and developers over the long term.
"We take the security, functionality and integrity of our system software very seriously and people should expect that hacked games won't work indefinitely as regular updates to content, apps and our platform may break the hacks," an Oculus spokesperson said.
This is not surprising considering that after first learning about Revive in April, Oculus told Ars Technica that "This is a hack, and we don't condone it. Users should expect that hacked games won't work indefinitely, as regular software updates to games, apps, and our platform are likely to break hacked software."
However, this is a far cry from the open, supportive tone Oculus offered the burgeoning VR community before it actually started competing with other platform.
Update: This story has been updated with Oculus' comments.