In a new update to the Oculus Rift PC runtime, the company has removed a controversial DRM provision which checked to ensure that users running Rift games were actually using a Rift headset.
In a statement shared with Road to VR the company has committed to not use such a check for DRM in the future:
“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. We won’t use hardware checks as part of DRM on PC in the future.
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.”
The move is reversal of an earlier decision which saw the implementation of a hardware check within Oculus’ DRM scheme: the software would verify that a Rift headset was actually attached to the computer before allowing any games to be played. That initial decision was met with negativity from the VR community who saw it as an effort to keep other headsets, such as the HTC Vive, from being able to play Oculus games through hacks like ‘Revive‘, which unofficially added the ability for Vive users to play Oculus games. It was pointed out that the headset check appeared counter to prior comments by Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey that the company would not block people from modifying games to work with other headsets.
Oculus stated at the time that the addition of the headset check was not added specifically to counter the Revive hack, but instead a measure of anti-piracy.
While Revive may not have been intended as a piracy tool, it has opened the door to piracy at a certain level. For instance, Lucky’s Tale, which comes bundled with the purchase of the Oculus Rift, can be played with a Vive using Revive for free. But as we know, ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’, and someone ends up eating the cost when a user who hasn’t bought a Rift plays the game without paying for it. This was presumably a major reason for Oculus to add the headset check to DRM in the first place.
However, this meant hacks that aimed to add compatibility to other headsets would necessarily need to break the headset check (as Revive did shortly after it was added), which ended up at least partially aligning the efforts of those wanting additional headset compatibility with those seeking to pirate games from the Oculus platform. Removing the check means those efforts can once again diverge, hopefully making it easier on all ends to allow compatibility hacks without exposing developers to piracy.
LibreVR, the creator of Revive, tells Road to VR regarding the news:
“I welcome this change of heart from Oculus and I hope it’s the first step in getting rid of hardware exclusive games altogether. I hope it will generate goodwill for Oculus, they deserve it for taking a more consumer-friendly approach.
I’m relieved that I don’t have to play a cat-and-mouse game with their DRM and can focus instead on adding support for more games. Without undermining the protections that ensure developers get compensated for their content.”
Despite this change, Oculus isn’t promising hacks like Revive won’t break in the future. The company has previously warned, “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.”