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Swing And A Miss: Oculus’s Attempt To Block Revive App Backfires Badly

Oculus has been the recipient of harsh criticism since the launch of its flagship product, the Rift VR HMD. The company has had several setbacks since the launch, and to the public eye, Oculus has made a series of missteps that have cost it the adoration of the VR enthusiast community that it held so firmly less than a year ago.

Oculus opened up pre-orders for its highly anticipated Rift HMD in January during CES 2016, and customers who purchased hardware were expecting to receive their orders in late April for release day. As it stands, Oculus is still trying to fulfill shipments for people who ordered hardware on day one, and many people expect to be waiting well into the summer before their orders arrive.

Oculus has also been criticized for its use of exclusive content in its platform. The founder of the company defended this position earlier this year in a Reddit AMA. His stance is that Oculus paid for the content to be made, so it should be able to sell it however it wants. There’s some merit to that point, but the last thing the enthusiast PC gamer community--the precise group of people that the Rift is being marketed towards for now--wants to see happen to their precious PC platform is a repeat of the console wars. PC gamers enjoy the freedom to buy their games from wherever they choose, and use whichever peripherals they want.

Dodging And Redodging DRM Checks

Oculus chose to take the approach of keeping its Oculus Home storefront locked down to Rift owners only, but this decision didn’t sit well with at least one software developer, who took it upon himself to create Revive, a tool designed to circumvent the hardware check of Oculus Rift games so you can play them with an HTC Vive. Revive has been available on Github for a couple of weeks, and the project had been progressing smoothly. Almost all of the games on the Oculus Home storefront were working on the Vive--and then Oculus decided to intervene.

Oculus was using DRM that checked the validity of your game purchase, but it wasn’t checking for the Rift hardware. Each game had a simple check for the HMD, which Revive was able to emulate to trick the software into thinking a Rift is present when it’s actually an HTC Vive. Late last week, Oculus released version 1.4 of the Oculus app, which includes a check for the Rift directly into the Oculus Platform DRM.

LibreVR, the developer of Revive, revealed to Reddit on Friday that the Oculus App update does indeed break the Revive software. The changes don’t render Revive completely useless, as the software also works with Rift games published to Steam, but it does stop you from playing Oculus Home content. CrossVR offered a workaround that will help CV1 and DK2 kits, but it didn’t take long for a proper update to be released with a fix for the issue. Unfortunately for Oculus, the new Revive update also opens the door for piracy by going around the Oculus Platform DRM.

The release notes for Revive version  0.5.2 open with a comment from the developer stating that removing DRM checks wasn’t the desired outcome, but there wasn’t any other option if development for the tool was to continue. The developer added that he does not support piracy and pleaded for users not to use the application to steal content.

“I really didn't want to go down this path, but I feel there is no other way. This release bypasses the Oculus Platform DRM in Unreal Engine games, so the entitlement check doesn't fail because the headset isn't connected,” said LibreVR.

LibreVR said the update has been tested only with Oculus Dreamdeck, but it should work for all Unreal Engine-based games. The next release of Revive will also support Unity Engine games.

The Revive software can be found on Github if you would like to try it for yourself.

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  • Malzy
    "Hey great, I bought a Vive but I can still buy from the Oculus store use with my Vive"
    *a wild update appeared*
    "Oh no, these games I bought are unusable now even though I was being a good consumer and purchasing them allowing Oculus to make money while not having to support the experience on a competitors HMD!!"
    *enter our hero*
    CrossVR: "Don't worry guys, I got this. You can use all the games you bought again, and I speculate any games you didn't, but make sure you still support the company trying to create a walled garden around a budding new tech with a low adopter rate and miniature footprint in the PC world *wink wink*"
    Reply
  • Jeff Fx
    This article sums up what we've been talking about in r/Vive and r/Oculus pretty well.

    I appreciate the developers work, but I choose not to use ReVive, both because I don't want to buy games that the publisher is trying to lock me out of, and because sit-down VR is pretty weak once you've experienced room-scale.
    Reply
  • computerguy72
    Why Oculus decided to play "Whack a Mole" is beyond me. I was a big supporter of these guys but they have certainly set the record over the last 12 months on bad decisions. Many of the bad decisions just pure stupidity.
    Reply
  • bit_user
    If Facebook is going to unlock >= $2B of value from Oculus (which is how much they paid for it), it's going to involve some stuff most people won't like. Exclusive content is just the beginning.

    I get where PC gamers are coming from. It would suck if most games were tied to arbitrary pieces of hardware, like your monitor, video card, sound card, CPU brand, etc. So, why should a HMD be any different?

    The best we can hope for is that this is a phase that will pass. The big game publishers will want to reach as large an audience as possible, especially when that audience is still pretty small. Once the market reaches a size where subsidies aren't necessary, I think they'll probably stop. When the market is big enough, Oculus would have to pay a publisher some amount >= to what they're losing by not having any Vive customers. Eventually, Oculus won't be able to afford that (or justify it, really... Facebook can afford it).
    Reply
  • wifiburger
    I don't want to sound too negative but Developers trying to create their own ecosystem on the open platform PC is always recipe for disaster,

    also people buying specific VR kits is another problem,

    I'm not a VR person but I can tell you once sony start churning 100+ games for their VR kit the PC VR will fade into non relevance
    Reply
  • Morbus
    If Facebook is going to unlock >= $2B of value from Oculus (which is how much they paid for it), it's going to involve some stuff most people won't like. Exclusive content is just the beginning.

    I get where PC gamers are coming from. It would suck if most games were tied to arbitrary pieces of hardware, like your monitor, video card, sound card, CPU brand, etc. So, why should a HMD be any different?

    The best we can hope for is that this is a phase that will pass. The big game publishers will want to reach as large an audience as possible, especially when that audience is still pretty small. Once the market reaches a size where subsidies aren't necessary, I think they'll probably stop. When the market is big enough, Oculus would have to pay a publisher some amount >= to what they're losing by not having any Vive customers. Eventually, Oculus won't be able to afford that (or justify it, really... Facebook can afford it).
    I doubt gaining money is gonna involve pissing people off. Which is what they've been doing all this time. Facebook should sell ASAP or accept the loss of money, but there's absolutely no way this gonna end well for them at this rate.
    Reply
  • therealduckofdeath
    Am I the only one who thinks Valve is a yuuuge hypocrite here? Remind me again, what Android devices is it possible to buy Valve's games for on the Google Play store?
    Exclusives is unfortunately a part of competition, Valve can't pick when it's good and when it's bad to support exclusives. The reality is, Valve and Gabe Newell is frigging annoying when it comes to these questions. It's an atrocity if it goes against Valve (Microsoft, Oculus, etc) it's a necessity if Valve is making money off it.
    Reply
  • gamebrigada
    Am I the only one who thinks Valve is a yuuuge hypocrite here? Remind me again, what Android devices is it possible to buy Valve's games for on the Google Play store?
    Exclusives is unfortunately a part of competition, Valve can't pick when it's good and when it's bad to support exclusives. The reality is, Valve and Gabe Newell is frigging annoying when it comes to these questions. It's an atrocity if it goes against Valve (Microsoft, Oculus, etc) it's a necessity if Valve is making money off it.

    The problem isn't them making their games exclusive. The problem is they keep flip flopping on their decision, which makes them soak up profit from people that can't play the game because they keep blocking it. If they made a statement before release saying "Hey, we know you'll try to play our games on your fancy non-oculus HMD, but you shouldn't because we won't allow it" then the complaints wouldn't be huge. The people that are livid are the ones that paid money for games that they can no longer play because Oculus can't get their shit together and make a decision. Their lack of decision came from them not taking their competition seriously, now that they have shat the bed with a competing platform they don't want to make that statement as it is negative PR.

    I fully expect them to keep playing whack-a-mole forever to continue making money off suckers that didn't buy their product but bought their exclusive content that they aren't capable of using most of the time. Because it is still profit, and its less negative than making a public statement saying they will refund all games and block all sales to exclusive titles.
    Reply
  • campbelln
    Am I the only one who thinks Valve is a yuuuge hypocrite here? Remind me again, what Android devices is it possible to buy Valve's games for on the Google Play store?
    Exclusives is unfortunately a part of competition, Valve can't pick when it's good and when it's bad to support exclusives. The reality is, Valve and Gabe Newell is frigging annoying when it comes to these questions. It's an atrocity if it goes against Valve (Microsoft, Oculus, etc) it's a necessity if Valve is making money off it.

    You want Valve to port their PC games to a mobile platform, and are using that as an example of how they are a walled garden? That doesn't make sense.

    They're already available on PC, Mac, and Linux. In fact they have been instrumental in promoting Linux as a viable gaming platform. There are now over a thousand games on Steam compatible with Linux.

    Granted, they're on the level of GOG in being completely DRM free, but calling Valve hypocritical compared to what Oculus has been doing lately is completely off mark.
    Reply
  • therealduckofdeath
    campbelln, You're making a really good example on how terribly bad Valve's own decision to sell exclusives is. I think, little over 10,000 people has bought Half-Life 2 on Android. Because no one knows it exists simply because Valve was greedy and sold the exclusive rights to Nvidia and their Shield devices.
    Reply