Oculus Opens Rift VR Game Software to Competing HTC Vive Viewer

The move appears to reverse Oculus' earlier strategy, which was to prevent users of competing devices from using and playing Rift games.

Oculus, Oculus Rift, VR, VR headsets, HTC Vive, game software, virtual reality

Oculus has quietly removed software controls that prevented users of competing virtual-reality headsets from using and playing games that were developed originally for Oculus Rift VR headsets (pictured).

The virtual-reality headset maker previously developed software locks to block users of the competing HTC Vive VR headset from using game titles that were developed for the Rift, but faced criticism for its actions, according to a June 27 story by the BBC. The locks were used by Oculus after disappointed Vive fans apparently created a software platform called "Revive," which allowed them to port Rift games so they could be played on the Vive, the story reported.

The removal of the software locks was discovered by a Revive developer, LibreVR, who noted its demise in a June 24 post on the Revive Githib development page, the BBC reported. The locks were a Digital Rights Management (DRM) tool to block the use of the games by non-Rift devices. The game software was modified to identify which VR device the software was being run on before allowing a game to be played.

"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," wrote LibreVR. "As such, I've reverted the DRM patch and removed all binaries from previous releases that contained the patch."

Oculus "confirmed that it had stripped out the headset checks and added that it would not use them in the future," the story continued, but the company defended its earlier actions by saying that "protecting developer content is critical to the long-term success of the VR industry."

Having games ready for Rift users has been a key goal of Oculus since it began shipping the devices on March 28, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The first 30 game titles included Adr1ft, Adventure Time, AirMech: Command, Albino Lullaby, Audio Arena, Project CARS, Chronos, Darknet, Dead Secret, Defense Grid 2, Dreadhalls, Elite Dangerous, Esper 2, EVE Valkyrie Founder's Pack, Fly to KUMA and EVE Gunjack.

Also released were Herobound SC, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Lucky's Tale, Omega Agent, Radial G, Rooms, Shufflepuck Cantina Deluxe VR, Smashing the Battle, Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Vektron Revenge, VR Tennis Online, Pinball FX2 VR, BlazeRush and Windlands. Prices of the games range from $9.99 to $59.99.

Those first 30 games will be joined by more than 100 additional titles through the end of 2016, according to the company.

Facebook acquired Oculus for $1.9 billion in March 2014 to expand its social media footprint in a new direction.

In May, two months after Oculus began shipping preordered units of its $599 Oculus Rift virtual-reality headsets to customers, the company came under fire from angry preorder buyers when it started selling a limited number of the devices in Best Buy stores, according to an earlier eWEEK story. The preorder buyers were angry because they were on waiting lists for the devices while others would be able to buy them at will in the stores without having to wait for general release of the headsets.

In March, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey got into a spat with Apple fans when he said in an interview that his company doesn't make its applications available to Mac computers because Apple doesn't build machines that are powerful enough to meet the high-performance standards the headset requires, according to an earlier eWEEK story.

In January, Oculus began taking preorders for its $599 Oculus Rift virtual-reality headsets. The Rift VR system is an all-in-one integrated unit that includes dual low-persistence AMOLED displays that are designed for virtual-reality activities. They are worn on a user's head and have an appearance similar to a scuba diving mask, but with darkened lenses. Rift users can see and experience a wide variety of virtual-reality games and simulations through the device, as well as play with Rift users from around the world through an online gaming community of Rift players.