Oculus Rift DRM Update Backfires And Instead Opens Game Piracy Floodgates

Oculus suddenly finds itself embroiled in a game of cat and mouse as it attempts to keep titles exclusive to the Rift from running on competing VR headsets. Unfortunately for Oculus, its latest attempt at padlocking content with a DRM update backfired, and instead of stopping hacks like Revive from working, Oculus ultimately made it easier to pirate games.

Let's back up a moment and see how we got to this point. At the end of last year, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey made what amounts to an open software statement by proclaiming, "If customers  buy a game from us, I don't care if they mod it to run on whatever they want. As I have said a million times, our goal is not to profit by locking people to only our hardware—it it was, why in the world would we be supporting GearVR and talking with other headset makers?"

Oculus Rift

That was all fine and dandy until this past April when a fellow who goes by the name LibreVR released Revive, a hack that allowed exclusive Rift games like Lucky's Tale and Dreamdeck to run on the Vive. Despite Luckey's prior proclamation, the hack apparently didn't sit well with the Oculus camp, which last week released an update that added "bug fixes and security updates, including updates to platform integrity checks."

The official stance from Oculus is that the platform integrity checks are implemented to prevent piracy, though it's probably not a coincidence that they thwart the initial version of Revive from working. Libre VR is certainly skeptical of the intent.

"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," LibreVR told Motherboard.

HTC Vive

Days later, there's a new version of Revive and it makes pirating games easier on Rift easier than ever. Whereas the original version took functions from the Oculus Runtime and translated them into OpenVR calls compatible with Vive and other headsets, the new version bypasses the platform integrity check completely. That makes it impossible for a game to determine if a user is the legal owner or not.

This is LibreVR's first successful attempt at bypassing DRM, and from his perspective, Oculus left him no choice.

"I really didn't want to go down this path, but I feel there is no other way," LibreVR says.

In a post on reddit, LibreVR makes it clear that he still doesn't support piracy nor does he want people using his hack for that purpose. That's probably an unrealistic expectation—chalk it up to more collateral damage.

You can download the latest version of Revive from github.