Google Earth VR was launched this week to great excitement, except to Rift users who found out that the game wouldn’t work with their headset. Little more than a day later, a hack surfaced that adds compatibility for the Rift, Touch, and even Razer Hydra to Google Earth VR.

While SteamVR is primarily the home of the HTC Vive, it also supports the Oculus Rift and Touch controllers, making it easy to developers to release games that work with both headsets. Rift users were surprised and upset to find that Google opted not to take advantage of the platform’s cross platform capability, and instead restricted Google Earth VR to the Vive only.

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Given that SteamVR technically already supports the Rift, a hack surfaced in short order that forced Rift compatibility for Google Earth VR. Created by Reddit user Shockfire7, the hack is called FakeVive, because it spoofs SteamVR into thinking that the attached Rift is actually a Vive, and thus Google Earth VR does it’s thing without fussing about the Rift.

FakeVive is a DLL which you can drop into the app’s folder to make it believe that a Vive is connected. It’s not a reverse Revive or anything, it just intercepts the OpenVR requests for HMD information and spoofs the model string. I don’t care to make it much more complex than this because SteamVR already supports the Rift fairly well.

FakeVive doesn’t involve modifying any of the app’s files and it doesn’t do anything specific to Google Earth VR. This makes it easy to install and it will continue to work even if the app is updated (assuming the HMD check isn’t made more complex).

Installation is as simple as unzipping a folder into the right place, and because of the way it the hack works, it could be a foundation to unlocking Rift support in other SteamVR titles which explicitly don’t support it.

In addition to the Rift, the FakeVive hack also makes Google Earth VR work with the Touch controllers, and even the older Razer Hydra controllers.

earthvr_manhattan

LibreVR, creator of the popular ReVive hack which allows Vive users to play many Rift exclusive games on Oculus Home, had posted instructions for a similar hack on Reddit prior, but called FakeVive “a much better solution” thanks to its ease of use. LibreVR has also now contributed to the FakeVive code.

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The reason why Google opted not to support the Rift in the first place is unclear. Their response to that question has been relatively vague, along the lines of ‘we want to focus first on making it work well on one headset’, but it seems clear that it didn’t take much effort to implement support. Google could be waiting for the launch of Touch, or maybe withholding their support for business reasons (to our knowledge the company hasn’t released any VR applications on Oculus platforms).

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • David Herrington

    Its just too bad that Rift users can’t use it until Touch launches anyway…

    • Billy H

      I was using it on a Rift, last night, with a leap motion controller that emulates the Vive Controllers, via the Steam Leap Driver. It is extremely wonky, but it works. I flew all over the world and did a few of the tours. Very Cool.

      • Nathan Casey

        I use ps3 motion controllers and they work pretty good once configured right.

    • cefizelj gnom

      I’m using this on my Rift + Hydras. So it can be done, but of course it’ll be much better with Touch.

  • DiGiCT Ltd

    One of the real reason would be simple, most rift users dont have the controllers yet.
    its not made for a gamepad.

    • beestee

      Makes sense to me.

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        Yeah to me too, as if google would just add it at the time peope would have them, then at least they are not disappointed ;)

    • James Abrahams

      Except that SteamVR already supports the rift. So they have had to put extra effort to specifically make Google Earth VR not work on the rift. So the fact that its not made for the gamepad is kind of irrelevant.

      Also there are lots of touch only games on the oculus store that clearly won’t work if you don’t have the oculus touch. So its not exactly a new concept of a touch controller game that doesn’t support the gamepad.

  • Dojo Games

    revive now this one,i love this. now i can buy one touch and use psvr on pc

  • Ivan Fojan

    Getting my touch controllers tomorrow, can’t wait to give this a try :)

  • Michał Stadnicki

    Facebook started this VR exclusives war. It was bad, is bad and will be bad for the business. The sooner they understand this the better.

  • Bart De Reu

    Someone can tell me how i can make it work on a DK2 without the motion controllers?