It's been a little bit over a day since Oculus started rolling out new DRM for its software, but it's already backfired, making pirating the company's games easier than ever.
A software update Oculus released on Friday, which included new DRM, killed one of the VR community's favorite hacks. Revive, as the user-made software is called, allowed people to play games exclusive to the Oculus Rift on competing VR headsets like Valve's and HTC's Vive. At the time, Oculus told Motherboard that the new DRM wasn't targeting Revive specifically, but that it was "designed to curb piracy and protect content and developers over the long term." Revive, supposedly, was just collateral damage.
The new DRM, however, appears to have only made Oculus' piracy problems way worse. Now, not only did the developer of Revive, who identifies simply as Libre VR, already find a way around the new DRM, his new workaround makes it easier to pirate Oculus games.
Libre VR told Motherboard that whereas the original version of Revive simply took functions from the Oculus Runtime and translated them to OpenVR calls (an API compatible with Vive and other headsets), the new version of Revive now uses the same injection technique to bypass Oculus' ownership check altogether. By disabling the ownership check the game can no longer determine whether you legitimately own the game.
Libre VR said that the original version of Revive did nothing to enable piracy.
"This is my first success at bypassing the DRM, I really didn't want to go down that path," Libre VR said in a post to Reddit. "I still do not support piracy, do not use this library for pirated copies."
Libre VR told Motherboard that he didn't design Revive to pirate games, but that people could use it that way. He said that if he finds a workaround that doesn't need to disable the ownership check, he'll implement it.
Libre VR also said that he would like to work with Oculus on a solution that allows people to play Oculus game on other headsets without circumventing the ownership check.
Motherboard has reached out to Oculus and will update this post if and when we hear back.
Libre VR first released Revive in April. At the time, we wondered whether Oculus would do something to stop it. On one hand, Oculus has spent a great deal of money and effort to publish games exclusive to the Oculus Rift, which is a good way to convince early VR adopters to buy it over the Vive. On the other hand, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey previously said that players could mod games in order to play them on "whatever they want" as long as they buy the games from Oculus' online store. That way Oculus still makes money on every sale, even if the Rift as a platform loses some of its edge over Vive.
One could argue that Oculus would sell more games if players could play them on whatever platform they wanted, but not having exclusive games gives them less reason to buy a Rift as opposed to another platform. For example, Microsoft would sell more games if it sold Halo on PlayStation 4, but then people would have less of a reason to buy an Xbox One. It's a platform play.
Oculus was quick to call it a hack, and said that players shouldn't expect it to continue working as it updates its software. The new software update Oculus started rolling out on Friday implemented new DRM that checked to see whether an Oculus Rift was connected to the PC before it launched a game. That's what made Revive stop working, but Libre VR told Motherboard that it took him less than 24 hours to get around it.
Different game engines integrate with Oculus' DRM in different ways, so at the moment the new version of Revive only works with Unreal Engine games. Libre VR said that he's currently getting it to work on Unity, another hugely popular game engine.