Oculus is removing controversial DRM from the Oculus Runtime which verified the Oculus Rift was running before launching any software while locking out Vive users.
Oculus, the company behind the leading high-end virtual reality headset, continues to discover itself in the midst of controversy after controversy since the launch of the Rift. Most recently Oculus created a difficult situation for itself with the introduction of DRM to the Oculus Store, a hardware check that prevented headsets other than the Oculus Rift from using the platform. In a surprise, and perhaps encouraging decision, Oculus today removed the DRM.
While the Vive and other VR headsets continue to lack official support on the Oculus Store, this change once again allows owners of non-Oculus hardware to use software like Revive to utilize the platform. Of course, Revive on its own had bypassed the DRM within 24-hours of its implementation, so the DRM’s removal is more of a symbolic gesture. Yet, considering Oculus’ relative inaction with regards to community feedback since launch, something is always better than nothing.
To perhaps soothe worries that the DRM removal is temporary or making way for something more severe, Oculus provided a statement to Ars Technica:
“[The Oculus Store] will not 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.”
An impressively direct and yet vague statement from Oculus. It can be read as both a promise to be more open and to protect developers, or as a promise of more varied DRM in efforts to protect the developers supported by the Oculus Store.
CrossVR, the developer of Revive, is proactive within the Vive community and was quick to verify and respond to the situation. Keep in mind that Oculus’ effort with the hardware DRM could be considered a direct response to the development of Revive and CrossVR’s work:
“I’m getting reports from multiple users that the headset check is indeed removed. I don’t think they changed their stance on exclusivity, but they’re at least willing to meet us halfway by letting us mod our games. I’m delighted to see this change and I hope it can generate a lot of goodwill for Oculus.”
Overall, the community response to this move by Oculus has been met very positively by the larger virtual reality community. Greater issues like platform exclusivity, the lack of Vive support on the Oculus Store, and communication issues in general continue to be mentioned in the same breath, but people mostly just want progress – and this decision delivers.
The decision also comes, likely not coincidentally, on the day Oculus’ Store Summer Sale is beginning. That coincides with the start of Steam’s Summer Sale as well, which is also not likely a coincidence. With the removal of the DRM, Vive owners who pick up Revive can now pick up some of the supported titles on sale over the next week. If additional DRM is indeed on the way, plan on it at least waiting until after the sale ends on July 5. Vive shoppers beware.