back to article Oculus backtracks on open software promise

VR headset company Oculus has backtracked on a promise not to lock down its software to its hardware. In an update put out this week, the company's digital rights management (DRM) system now checks whether the Oculus Rift headset is attached to the computer when playing a game. If it isn't, the game won't play, effectively …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is anyone surprised?

    After they went Windows only ("just for now"... yeah right), I'm not.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Platform Integrity Check

    Rename it "Platform Response Integrity Check Kibosh System".

    On the other hand, as Palmer Luckey is involved every 'Integrity Check' for the system should fail.

    1. Indolent Wretch

      Re: Platform Integrity Check

      And the thing it does is run the:

      Consumer Unit Noncompliance Test

  3. oldtaku
    Meh

    Inevitable

    Inevitable as soon as they were bought by Facebook. This always happens.

    The little company says 'Oh no this won't change our culture at all hurf burf!' But it's like trying to hold back overflowing sewage with a net. And Facebook's culture is 'we're a walled nuthouse, we ruthlessly exploit our users, and we crush and replace other systems rather than work with them.'

    1. RegGuy1

      Re: Inevitable

      Who can blame them? It worked for Apple.

      Alas this is human nature. There is too much money at stake to do anything else.

      1. Anomalous Croissant

        Re: Inevitable

        There is too much money at stake to do anything else.

        Exactly. Considering there are already competitive alternatives like the HTC Vive, it could be really bad for Oculus if games could be modded to run on alternate VR headset. Save the mods for when their market and brand is stable.

        1. Tomato42 Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Inevitable

          "Exactly. Considering there are already competitive alternatives like the HTC Vive, it could be really bad for Oculus if games could be modded to run on alternate VR headset."

          Yeah, that would mean direct competition and that's bad for business. If only those pesky customers didn't demand Vaseline for shafting, we would have pure profit!

        2. Tony Paulazzo

          Re: Inevitable

          it could be really bad for Oculus

          Yea, can't wait till EA only allow us to only play their games thru an EA branded monitor, plus you'll need a different monitor to play Ubisoft games, Steam, etc, etc, etc... 'Cause that's what this is, a $600 fancy schmancy monitor that plugs into your PC.

      2. tin 2

        Re: Inevitable

        Nope, it's corporate nature. There is too much money at stake to do anything else. The pension funds demand it.

    2. nematoad Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Inevitable

      "...we ruthlessly exploit our users, and we crush and replace other systems rather than work with them.'"

      That reminds me of another company, if only I could bring it to mind.

    3. Steve Kerr

      Re: Inevitable

      They're not users, they are the product!

  4. Keef

    "As I have said a million times"

    I don't know the man, nor do I follow his speeches.

    But I'm pretty fucking sure he hasn't said it a million times.

    If he doesn't understand quite what a large number a million is he ain't getting my money.

    1. Fibbles

      Re: "As I have said a million times"

      hyperbole

      [hahy-pur-buh-lee]

      noun, Rhetoric.

      1. obvious and intentional exaggeration.

      2. an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”.

      Origin of hyperbole

      1520-30; < Greek hyperbolḗ excess, exaggeration, throwing beyond, equivalent to hyper- hyper- + bolḗ throw

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: "As I have said a million times"

        Those who forget rhetoric are doomed to annoy us with their complaints.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not surprised

    Yet people still trust so freely.

    "Ubisoft are making a game! Best preorder that!"

    "Now EA are making a game too!"

    "Didn't ya hear? Destiny will be awesome! 10 years of content!"

    "Here, free windows, trust us we have nothing to gain or anything!"

    "Yeah bro, we won't DRM our stuff! Trust us, do you have any reason not to trust facebook?"

    Just because there's no tear-stained mattress in the back of a white van....

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Re: Not surprised

      You've been in my van?

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Not surprised

      Pre orders

      Do not pre order anything not from Naughty Dog

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Dead shit is dead

    NEXT!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "handling the messaging poorly."

    That's a new one on me. I'll have to add it to my "euphemisms for lying" list.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: "handling the messaging poorly."

      Well, yes. On the other hand, it also describes his problem accurately. He likes to make promises he can't keep. Whether he ever intended to keep them is, from the "poor messaging" perspective, irrelevant. Keeping his mouth shut, or at least speaking in the usual corporate vagaries, would be much wiser.

  9. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    And the peachy printer kickstarter promised a $100 3D printer driven from the soundcard of a computer but actually built a big house for one of the "developers".

    Anything said by a kickstarter developer for a tech project is most properly labelled "outright lie" in the absence of an actual case contradicting that.

    See also: unfeasible personal mini drone with on-board camera and unicorn tracker.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      Well at least the unicorn tracker worked.

  10. frank ly Silver badge

    Workaround

    Would it be possible to develop some kind of dongle to sit between the headset and the PC, or an item of driver software to make the game software think that it's connected to an Oculus Rift? There might be some legal problems with selling it as a product but if the design was made open source then there might be quite a few developers who'd be willing to work on it for free.

    1. Allaun Silverfox

      Re: Workaround

      Honestly, why go through the trouble? Why make yourself jump through hoops for what is obviously a consumer hostile company?

    2. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: Workaround

      Well, yes, obviously, because DRM can't work on a platform that allows arbitrary binaries to run as root/administrator.

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: Workaround

        Well, yes, obviously, because DRM can't work on a platform that allows arbitrary binaries to run as root/administrator.

        Care to explain how it works on Windows then? Where the user is both 'root', and has full automatic 'admin' level?

        1. Lyndon Hills 1

          Re: Workaround

          Care to explain how it works on Windows then?

          Probably fair to point out that DRM only 'works' to the point of making it difficult, but not impossible, to circumvent.

          As a side note, often by making a purchased product so annoying to use that getting a cracked version makes the thing useable. e.g games that won't run at all without a net connection, dvds that won't let you skip adverts, etc, ad nauseum.

          1. MJI Silver badge

            Re: Workaround

            DVD advert skipping blocked.

            Just meant I stopped buying DVDs

            For a few months it was rip DVD & burn DVD-R, so I removed a step and just did the burn.

        2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: Workaround

          "Care to explain how it works on Windows then? Where the user is both 'root', and has full automatic 'admin' level?"

          Simples - because you are not actually root or admin, just what MS decided to allow you to touch and nothing else.

          Root on *nix systems means that, you can do real STOOPID shit if you want, but that you should have the sense not to. Like a God I suppose, but hopefully not Sithrak The Blind Gibberer...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: God

            When I sysadmin, I prefer to think of myself as Loki.

          2. Kane Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Workaround

            "Like a God I suppose, but hopefully not Sithrak The Blind Gibberer..."

            Let him into your heart! Blame him for everything!

          3. Geoffrey W Silver badge

            Re: Workaround

            RE "because you are not actually root or admin"

            There is an actual root or elevated account in windows which allows you to do stupid stuff without UAC but its disabled by default. Kinda like a regular user account in versions before Vista. Lets call it the Win95 account, or even the XP account.

            1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

              Re: Workaround

              "There is an actual root or elevated account in windows"

              Including loading unsigned drivers on 64-bit versions?

              It not, then it is not really root but DRM in the way.

          4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Workaround

            Simples - because you are not actually root or admin, just what MS decided to allow you to touch and nothing else.

            With administrative access on a Windows system, you can elevate to ring 0 (modulo hypervisor intervention on a virtualized system), so you can do anything the hardware will let you do.

            Even without elevating to ring 0, stock Windows administrative privileges include debugging any process, including down into the kernel. Kernel debugging on Windows is standard practice for device driver development, security research, etc.

    3. Tony Paulazzo

      Re: Workaround

      some kind of dongle

      It's already been cracked, dongle not required. However, the new crack now allows for pirated versions of the game to run, not the hackers original intention but the only way he could break the lock.

      So, with this entire debacle Facebook have pissed off the entire VR community (I'm thinking they don't care, they have a long term plan and it doesn't involve gamers), and it's been broken already. Cue the lawyers!

    4. Swarthy Silver badge

      Re: Workaround

      Similar to the NoCD hacks of yesteryear, I present the AnyVR hacks of tomorrow (well, today as it has already been released)

    5. Brangdon

      Re: Workaround

      There's no need for a dongle. Revive have already updated their software to work around the restriction. Unfortunately the only way they could see to make it work, also circumvented the DRM, so it is now easier to steam Rift games than it was before.

  11. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    So presumably...

    the guys who wrote software for free will be submitting *large* bills for their time, and pointing out any applicable t&cs in the licence?

  12. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Maybe it's me... are they a hardware company or a software/game company? Or trying to be both with a walled garden? Seems that locking out other people's games or hardware is sure way to fail these days especially if one or the other (hardware or game) is just crap.

    The "new" and "shiny" that spur early buyers wears off real fast when crap is involved.

    1. Ian 55

      First rule of tech

      Never be the first on your block...

  13. Michael Habel Silver badge

    >Implying that your average Windows 10, Stock 4.4.2 Touchwiz Samsung, Facebook User has a clue about DRM, and actually cares.

    1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      You would be surprised what the average windows user knows. Usually just enough to get into trouble then pick up the phone to me...

  14. quattroprorocked

    Come on guys

    Small guy grossly underestimates retail cost of final product? Not unusual. Most people have no idea just how much the margins in the chain amount to.

    Guy backtracks on promise made when he realises that said promise could seriously fuck up the brand? An Oculus game run on cheap vomit inducing kit would be very bad for Oculus and VR in general

    Oculus succeeding is really about VR succeeding. Oculus failing because people run Oculus games on crap kit and VR fails. I tried early (i.e. crap) VR and motion sickness is totally a thing, and if Oculus is good enough to avoid that, and the cheap ones don't, Oculus does NOT want their stuff on that kit.

    My take - as soon as that got pointed out to Luckey it's a no brainer which way to go.

    I'm old enough not to criticize someone for realising that life can require back peddling on idealism.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Come on guys

      "I'm old enough not to criticize someone for realising that life can require back peddling on idealism."

      Well *I'm* old enough to criticize someone for promising something before they knew they could deliver it, and doing so because they knew the promise would encourage others to give their time and energy for free to help me make money.

      It boils down to honesty and trust. The little guys in society still think these are important, even if the big players reckon they are out-dated hang-overs from a society that worried too much about how they were "handling the messaging".

    2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: Come on guys

      I understand that over-promising is a thing, but if that over promise is tied into getting someone to do a thing now in expectation of a thing in the future, then it's lying and manipulation. Or sales :)

      If I say I'll paint your house for a tenner, and you agree (and turn down other offers to do it), then I turn up and say "oh, I meant a grand" would you shrug and say "oh well" and give me the cash? Would you fuck. Cost is a major factor for most decisions, and doubling it indicates that the initial price was waaay off. If you want to avoid damaging the brand, being upfront that you've fucked the numbers and things are going to be more pricey (but quality will be good) might have been a better tactic.

      Manufacturing is tricky as you say, even experienced groups can make huge errors in planning and operating that lead to large (and possibly prohibitive) costs. That goes doubly for new products, and small (sub 100k for widgets, sub 10 for big things) production runs. So if you're going to promise a product (a la Kickstarter) then you should have a plan for cost over-runs, delays, and other people being full of "idealistic views*" that result in them promising things they can't deliver.

      Crowdfunding (and unicorns) seem to have this as a common issue. Someone thinks idea X will be awesome, despite X being somewhere between difficult and impossible. Person then assumes that X can be done right first time both in design and production, and doesn't bother to build a prototype. After getting funding for X, it turns out to be waaaay harder than planned, so company folds, after taking the cash.

      * There's a cultural factor too, some places will simply not say "no" or "that's not possible" even when you are clearly asking for the moon on a stick, yesterday, whilst being showered in unicorn piss.

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: Come on guys

        If I say I'll paint your house for a tenner, and you agree (and turn down other offers to do it), then I turn up and say "oh, I meant a grand" would you shrug and say "oh well" and give me the cash? Would you fuck.

        I would suggest another analogy.

        The landlord of a pub approaches a painter and decorator and asks them to decorate the pub. In return, he will supply the guy, at cost, with beer to take home and use in his own home bar. As soon as the work is complete, the landlord changes his mind. The decorator has done all that work, and has nothing to show for it.

        I believe anyone who has worked, for free, on software on the promise that the platform would be open, should consider a class action lawsuit. It would be an interesting case, as IMHO Luckey's previous promise could be interpreted as a verbal contract...

    3. Jonimus

      Re: Come on guys

      Except according to most reviews I've seen the HTC Vive is the better headset and GearVR which they do support is the most likely to cause sickness, well aside from Google cardboard.

    4. MrXavia

      Re: Come on guys

      DRM does not stop piracy, it encourages piracy to allow the consumer to get around the artificial restrictions...

  15. Boothy

    Buy on Steam instead then

    This just seems to be another nail in the Oculus store.

    Why buy a game/experience on their store, tied to just the Rift? When a game bought on Steam will support any headset, current or future, from any manufacturer, as long as it can be used via OpenVR.

    1. Known Hero
      Angel

      Re: Buy on Steam instead then

      Or GOG ;) if were complaining about DRM, seems more fitting.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Buy on Steam instead then

      They seem to be betting that the "Oculus experience" will be so awesome and compelling that nothing else will matter effectively giving them carte blanche to do anything they please. They're wrong.

    3. MrXavia

      Re: Buy on Steam instead then

      Steam?

      Steam is what is wrong with modern gaming.. DRM by the bucket load! no right to play more than one of your games at the same time... if it was subscription monthly for access to every game, fine but its not!

  16. sysconfig

    Not surprised

    When Oculus started out years ago there was literally no competition in the consumer space. It was a big thing. But they took way too long to get it to market properly. In the meantime their developer versions gained some traction in certain games and communities (simulators being one).

    So Oculus has done the proof of concept and viability, now other manufacturers come along to get a piece of the pie. That wasn't entirely unpredictable, to say the least. As a result, Oculus are now trying to offer much less (initially marketed for all major platforms, now Windows only; price much higher; less open etc etc) while trying to protect their IP.

    The competition are actual hardware manufacturers like HTC, Sony, Samsung. Oculus are in for a serious fight, which they are probably not going to win (unless The Zuck is going to pour a lot of money into it and accept a slim margin in return for a bigger piece of the market cake). Aligning their price with the Vive (if you count in the fact that Oculus' controller isn't ready, but Vive's is) is not a good idea.

    Not partnering with Steam (unlike Vive) is another missed opportunity.

    Will be interesting to see how this market pans out in the next few years.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Y the hubbub, bub

    VR is already dead in the water <NOKILLAAPP>

    1. Colin Ritchie
      Windows

      Re: No killer app

      I think Facebook should make the killer app for Oculus. Not sure what or how, but if you buy someone else's dream, you should have a damn good reason for doing so.

      If Google had bought it and welded it to an updating Google Earth VRsim you could walk around, that could turn into a killer app, especially if you could take VR trips round the world with friends and make it back in time for the pub.

      Just an idea mind.

  18. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Backtracked

    Oculus: "I have altered the deal. Pray I don't alter it further."

    1. roselan

      Re: Backtracked

      Gaben: "You were supposed to be the chosen one"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Backtracked

      Oculus: "I have altered the deal. Pray I don't alter it further."

      Augmented reality. Part of the VR deal, isn't it?

  19. MR J

    This has never been Replicated before.

    You can't even MakerBot a story like this up.

  20. razorfishsl

    give it 6 months, and The ShenZhen electronic fuckmill will have this shit copied at a cost of 25%.

  21. TheSkunkyMonk

    prompting some developers to work for free on it.

    Poor sods, wonder if they will have any means of comeback? Its a joke mind and will lead to the end of the Rift. still its mainly old tech anyway, I remember the VR Game in the toy shop when I was a kid in the early nineties, it was always broken. only difference is higher def screen no doubt and fancier graphics and a few more sensors. Why it cant be open software so Devs can actually concentrate on making VR games instead of pandering the whims of hardware manufacturers I do not know, oh yeah I do in the hopes of making more money! It really shouldn't be this complicated, its just sensor feedback, screens a screen...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its a shame really

    As I was mentally (if not financially) bought into the original kick-starter messages.

    A new walled garden cannot be good for their future success or the potential of the technology...

    Maybe Microsoft games will only work with a Microsoft mouse in future...Overall this seems a daft business logic.

    The headset is (controversial, I know) essentially just a monitor - the creative energy and business model should come from the content games, movies etc in MHO

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The headset is (controversial, I know) essentially just a monitor

      Anyone who's managed to connect a tablet to a tv and have it display upside down or in portrait mode knows that there's at least one thing that Occulus does that monitors don't.

  23. Known Hero

    Ding Dong the headsets Dead, the wicked ol .......

    HTC must be Laughing their arse's off right about now, My purchase likely hood for the Oculus went from Never to Never Ever Ever.

    And my HTC Vive purchase likely hood went from I wish I could afford that to I wish I could afford that !!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's awful anyway.

      I backed the original kickstarter in a moment of weakness. I got the original hardware which was awful and unusable but I put that down to it being early prototype.

      Then I surprisingly got the "free" consumer one due to backing the kickstarter. What I didn't expect was that it would still be awful. it's heavy, uncomfortable, slow, ugly and gives you an instant headache and just looks blocky and terrible.

      To be honest if I'd paid for it I'd be feeling very ripped off.

      Frankly I had to spend an hour collecting it from the post office and I don't feel it was worth that time.

      I want VR to work but occulus is so bad that even it it cost £25 I can't see it doing well.

      1. Known Hero
        Pint

        My thoughts are with you, But thank you for Kickstarting VR, you can always take that with you. Without the whole grassroots campaign VR would not of taken off like it did.

        Beer is for you.

      2. PaulR79

        You got it free? Well you know.... if you really don't want it I would be more than happy to take it off your hands. What say you?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmmm

    Being Devils Advocate here....... Why should a company spend millions developing a product that can be bypassed for a rivals product, whilst playing their games on it?

    No company would realistically want to support that model.

    So yeah, it's 2016 and this is the way the world works.

    It's shit, but surely we're used to it by now.

  25. tel2016

    Users are the Product

    I have a DK2, and once the 1.3 runtime was released I installed it. I found it slightly annoying to need to log into Occults Home everyone I wanted to use the HMD, so out of curiosity, I fired up Wireshark to see exactly what was being connected to.

    I was surprised to see the service connecting to Facebook servers every few seconds. Apparently this is 'checking for updates', but can someone tell me why the runtime needs an always running service that checks for updates so frequently.

    Facebook wanting to get on as many desktops as possible, regardless of whether the user has a FB account seems the most likely reason to me.

    After all, I doubt Mark Zuckerberg expects to recoup his $2 billion investment via hardware/software sales

    I know that Oculus have said that they don't share information with FB, but have they promised that they will NEVER start doing that?

    This locking of games to the hardware seems to me to be another way of insuring that the runtime stays on the PC.

    1. TomChaton

      Re: Users are the Product

      "I know that Oculus have said that they don't share information with FB, but have they promised that they will NEVER start doing that?"

      If they did it wouldn't be worth the paper it was written on.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Users are the Product

      127.0.0.1 www.facebook.com

      that solves it

  26. PaulR79
    FAIL

    "The company has referred to its new ability to prevent Oculus games from being played on others' headsets with the euphemism "platform integrity check." "

    I will perform a monetary integrity check, just a moment. Nope, they failed so I will be avoiding Occulus. I was already unsure because of various other things but this has sealed the nail in the coffin for me. Farcebook, greed, and control freak issues all in one.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      There is only one headset I could get anyway

      And I doubt I will

      PC too old, and PC is too much like work (I work in IT).

      So I have to have my games console one.

      But apart from running about in a mech suit not much I actually want.

  27. Ian 55

    Thank fuck I wear glasses (and not rose-tinted ones)

    My eyesight means that there was no way I was paying several hundred for something that might not be wearable / usable.

    My cynicism means that I didn't expect any of the promises to be kept.

    So I saved my money and at least one of those was right.

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