Oculus reverses course, will allow exclusives to run on rival hardware

In late May, Oculus VR stealthily introduced a new form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) into a regular software update for its Oculus Rift headset and online store. The apparent goal was to circumvent applications like Revive, a plugin which allowed users to run Oculus-exclusive games on the HTC Vive, another virtual reality headset.

Oculus’s plan backfired — spectacularly, it might be said. Not only was Revive retooled to subvert the DRM in under 24 hours, Oculus VR has lost considerable goodwill with its early adopters, who had latched onto company founder Palmer Luckey’s previous comments about permitting open experimentation and cross-compatibility. I myself was highly critical of the move, if only for its self-evident futility.

Well, as of this week, it appears Oculus has gone back on its hardware mandate and removed the system runtime check which prevented users from running Oculus games on the Vive. The news comes from none other than Revive plugin developer Libre VR, who discovered the reversal during a recent test.

I’ve only just tested this and I’m still in disbelief, but it looks like Oculus removed the headset check from the DRM in Oculus Runtime 1.5. As such I’ve reverted the DRM patch and removed all binaries from previous releases that contained the patch.

Libre VR, as a reminder, only modified their Revive plugin to circumvent the Oculus DRM after they felt “there [was] no other way,” and reiterated that Revive was not meant to support piracy — even if that was what had now become possible, thanks to the update. This reversal now brings the Revive plugin closer to its original intended use.

“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,” an Oculus representative said in a statement to Polygon. “We won’t use hardware checks as part of DRM on PC in the future.”

This is good news for those looking to try out Oculus games on the Vive — but it’s even better news for Oculus, who it seems have started to wise up to that whole land-war-in-Asia thing.

Top image source: Sergey Galyonkin, Flickr