back to article Coders crack Oculus DRM in 24 hours, open door to mass piracy

On Friday Oculus broke its word and instituted DRM (digital rights management) controls on its virtual reality headset, blocking non-approved games from its kit. The weekend wasn't over when coders struck back and their crack only makes Oculus' problems worse. The Oculus DRM controls were supposed to kill off a popular piece …

  1. goldcd

    This whole thing pisses me off.

    VR is currently very very niche - but may (I hope) become something exciting.

    Oculus are the demonstrable leaders in it, with their kickstarter and then Facebook backing - but they don't "own" VR.

    The lockout they sent as an update has poisoned me to them.

    Previously I wanted them to succeed, now - well every hack to their tech fills my bitter heart with joy.

    They acted like the tools others said they feared they would be, they said they wouldn't be, then they were, and now I want to see them crushed and humiliated as an example to others.

    Actually, I don't want to see "them" crushed. I want whoever pushed for this update against the will of the techs (and if this isn't true, I'll cry) to be flensed of their stock options and sent back to flogging contextual adverts on facebook feeds to their ad-block using consumers.

    I'm a childless with disposable income, near 40, game-loving, IT Professional - I am the person you should be "cupping the balls of" - and then you act "like dicks" to me.

    It's not what you did that offends me the most, it's that whatever corporate structure you've made for yourself didn't anticipate my response.

    *raises a solitary middle finger to you*

    1. PJF

      Re: This whole thing pisses me off.

      ... The lockout they sent as an update has poisoned me to them. ....

      Seems to be more than M$ cr@p - f'n with hardware.

      Years ago (decades?!) I purchased a set of VR glasses/game combo. It may have been in the 286/386 era. It caught my eye at the time, since I had a 286/25 and 287 co-pro w/640 - a well respected system at the time. I WILL NEVER forget the the name :

      SPECTRA VR

      What a P.O.S. (not Point of Sales)!!

      Now, 20-30 years later, same s., different decade..

      I WANT LAWNMOWER MAN!!

      1. AustinTX

        Re: This whole thing pisses me off.

        @PJF: I'm looking forward to the return of the Power Glove... which of course needs the latest computing hardware and a quarter billion lines of code to function, for some reason.

        1. PJF

          Re: This whole thing pisses me off.

          @ Austin, TX

          Now imagine the TRILLIONS of lines of code in/on a 3-D gimbal!!

          P.J.

    2. AustinTX

      Re: This whole thing pisses me off.

      @goldcd: Your beef is with the content providers who doubtless threatened to boycott Oculus.

      1. goldcd

        Nah

        This isn't (well at least it wasn't until now) about cracking the content, just what it could be displayed upon.

        The prior "tweaking" this patch gave just allowed Vive users to buy and play software that was notionally only available to Oculus users.

        ~A game was only available to users of ABC monitors. Then somebody allowed to be used on all monitors, and loads of people with non-ABC monitors bought it.

        Then ABC monitor-corp locked them out, as...

        .. buntly software should boil down to "can it run" and "did I pay for it" - diverge from this and you'll get a rightful dose of wrath.

      2. goldcd

        Why would they?

        They had a game that ran on Oculus, and could be bought only by Oculus owners.

        Porting costs to Vive are I'm guessing negligible, seeing as these guys dumped out a wrapper for the whole ecosystem.

        With this wrapper the potential market got larger and more games got shifted ("Hey, it works on my Vive, I'll buy it).

        Then they got locked out. Yesterday my "Oculus Exclusive" game I bought and ran on my Vive worked, today it doesn't."

        How do you think as a Vive user you feel about Oculus and their exclusives?

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Why would they?

          Why would they?

          The whole DRM on oculus has nothing to do with games. Oculus is being bolted down so it cannot be used for porn. From that perspective, they do not care a lot if their DRM was broken so that their content is played on another device. Now playing non-DRM-ed content on their device - different story.

          This is not something Oculus originally intended by the way. It came after they were Tzukerborged. I guess that the droid boy is more prudish than we thought.

          1. WillbeIT
            Mushroom

            Re: Why would they?

            You mean there is a reason for VR other than Pr0n?

            1. 9Rune5

              Re: Why would they?

              "You mean there is a reason for VR other than Pr0n?"

              Don't be silly. I am sure the device can also be used to buy medical marihuana online.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why would they? - I guess that the droid boy is more prudish than we thought.

            Zuckerberg wants world domination, for starters. And that means being acceptable in all kinds of countries, including those which are very prudish, as well as ensuring that parents don't stop their children using it. So everything Facebook touches becomes lowest common denominator. It's like the Sun with its euphemisms for sex, because Rupert wants the maximum possible potential lookership.

            Well, at least the Zuckerberg ownership of Oculus is saving me quite a lot of money, while I wait for another company to commercialise a platform, and incdientally get the price down.

            1. Mark 85

              @Voyna i Mor -- Re: Why would they? - I guess that the droid boy is more prudish than we thought.

              Zuckerberg wants world domination, for starters.

              There it is in a nutshell. I trust everyone remembers his statements about how he views his company "users".. err... "product". Nothing but scorn because they will give him everything. Meantime, he has a large wall of privacy around him.

              Personally, I won't use or buy anything from a company FB owns if for no other reasons than a) his attitudes towards everyone else and b) I don't want to be snooped and monetized.

          3. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: Why would they?

            "The whole DRM on oculus has nothing to do with games. Oculus is being bolted down so it cannot be used for porn." - Voland's right hand

            Could be - but good luck with that... they have millions of hormone-driven teenage coders against them.

          4. DiViDeD

            @ Volands right hand Re: Why would they?

            "Oculus is being bolted down so it cannot be used for porn."

            Sorry, CANNOT be used for porn? That's 90% of their potential sales out the window right there, that is.

          5. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Why would they?

            "Oculus is being bolted down so it cannot be used for porn."

            I'll be returning the groinal attachment then, Kryten.

      3. John Bailey

        Re: This whole thing pisses me off.

        "@goldcd: Your beef is with the content providers who doubtless threatened to boycott Oculus."

        Because the content providers wanted FEWER sales?

        I'm afraid your standard "DRM must be present cos content owners" excuse is not applicable this time.

        This time, it's Oculus and faceache. Not the eeeville content providers.

        1. AustinTX

          Re: This whole thing pisses me off.

          @John Bailey: I get your point, however it is self-evident that content providers would rather have control over their product than have a larger market.

        2. dan1980

          Re: This whole thing pisses me off.

          @John Bailey

          "Because the content providers wanted FEWER sales?"

          While I freely confess to having no first-hand knowledge of what metrics matter to content providers, I would suggest that they want more profit.

          Using simple, 'sake of argument' numbers, if a game costs $1bn to develop then expected profit figures into that. If you have a deal for exclusive access being paid to you then that reduces the costs and means that less sales may equal bigger profits.

          Again using simple numbers, if you expect $1bn profit, that means earing $2bn from sales. But if your costs are reduced by $500m due to an exclusivity agreement, you only need $1.5bn is sales to reach the same profit.

          From the hardware-vendor's side, having a really hot exclusive means, in theory, that more people will buy your product and so you aim to recoup some of that money you paid that way. And, should your product obtain any significant dominance, it is likely that such exclusivity arrangements would cost less, enabling you to employ them more often.

          That's all ludicrously simplistic but the fact that exclusivity agreements exist in the first place prove that they must make good business sense at least some of the time!

          A recent gaming example was the second of the new Tomb Raider games. Already a popular franchise, the re-imagining was very well received and was released across all platforms, including OSX and Linux. The second installment, "Rise of the Tomb Raider" was a time exclusive for Microsoft (console and PC) with a PS4 release due late this year.

          Bean-counters somewhere figured this deal would make more money so they did it.

          Back to the Occulus, yeah, it's a totally cynical move and one that many predicted, despite all the promises to the contrary. But that doesn't mean that it won't be a profitable one.

          The only way to teach them this is not on is to boycott the device or, if you are already getting one, at least boycott any 'exclusives'. The only language they understand is money so that's the only way to tell them they're wrong.

        3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

          @John Bailey

          Yes, the content providers wanted fewer sales.

          You could sell a million for £5, or you could sell 100,000 for £20, wait three months and sell 200,000 for £15. Wait again and sell 300,000 for £10, and after a year sell the last 400,000 for £5. Plan B costs you some interest on not making all the sales early, but you do not have to buy enough capacity to do everything in the first month, then throw it away immediately after. Buying a twentieth of the capacity and running it for two years trims the interest on capital investment enough to match the loss of interest on early sales. There is less risk because you do not have to correctly guess you market size on the first day. You control rate of purchase by selecting the dates when you drop the price, and in my example get an extra 68% revenue.

          If a distributor offers you a few million to reduce your sales (not revenue) for a year, then you giggle all the way to the bank because you will make the 'lost' sales next year. Oculus and the content providers both saw a mutual opportunity for profit. Ranting at either one does not help. If you feel cheated, then wait a couple of years and buy second hand.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @John Bailey

            > You could sell a million for £5, or you could sell 100,000 for £20, wait three months

            > and sell 200,000 for £15. Wait again and sell 300,000 for £10,

            > and after a year sell the last 400,000 for £5

            So in this model 1 million people have bought Oculus headsets? Seems unlikely to me @ current price and capability.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This whole thing pisses me off.

        Your beef is with the content providers who doubtless threatened to boycott Oculus.

        Chicken and egg situation insofar that they need each other. However, Oculus made public statements about DRM it has then gone back on, if this was in the UK this could even be claimed as misleading the buyers, resulting in a return of the devices for full refund. So I'd blame Oculus for taking a decision in conflict with public statements because that also has an impact on reputation.

        Oculus has to decide what it wants: a limited content platform, or a profitable platform which everyone and their dog uses because it's open which is likely to lead to more sales originating from markets it doesn't even realise the existence of (because that's the side effect of making something open and easily accessible).

        The only thing it should not do (and just has) is annoying the most competent group of coders: hobbyists who like to tinker. Let's not forget that the protection the entire DVD industry relied on was broken on a rainy Sunday afternoon by a bored teenager who just wanted to play video on his own machine.

        You really don't want to get on the wrong side of that sort of competence as a company, because that's a battle you cannot win.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This whole thing pisses me off.

      I'm not sure what anyone expected would happen when it got bought by Farcebook who seem to want to monetise anything. THey've demonstrated more than once that they're not a charity and Zuckerberg is just as much of an avaricious shark as any of the old style CEOs despite the (deliberately) unthreatening geek act.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This whole thing pisses me off.

        Zuckerberg is just as much of an avaricious shark as any of the old style CEOs despite the (deliberately) unthreatening geek act.

        It's people like Zuckerberg that give geeks a bad name IMHO.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Why should they care if it is used for porn?

          It would still help adoption of VR overall, and their product in particular. They don't have to sell it, or even have to help those getting porn on it. Going to such lengths tells me it has nothing to do with porn, unless the CEO is one of those holier than thou religious types who thinks the world should live according to his morality (i.e. the Christian version of Sharia law)

          The reason they are putting in DRM is simple - they can't compete with the other VR products. Back when Oculus was announced a million years ago, they had the market to themselves. But by announcing early and getting all that hype, they let others who didn't trumpet their vaporware quite so loudly catch up and surpass them.

          They know if they let people play their stuff on competing cheaper products that beat them to market, they won't survive. So they're playing the DRM game, and now that's caused piracy to take root. Oculus is doomed at this point, the billions Facebook spent on them wasted.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why should they care if it is used for porn?

            >> Why should they care if it is used for porn?

            >> They don't have to sell it, or even have to help those getting porn on it. Going to such lengths tells me it has nothing to do with porn,

            I recently had a conversation with a person working "behind the scenes" in the adult industry and he mentioned that everyone there is kinda giddy and sees the current high powered CPU/GPUs and the upcoming VR tech as a second chance for "interactive" products.

            Their first stab, chaptered DVDs that allowed to switch from one position to the next and on to the... umm... well release at the touch of a button were not quite that popular. With todays technology the possibilities for interacting with the scene would be much more refined, I will leave imagining what those are to you.

            There is a worry though that this might be taken a bit too far by some vendors that cater to the "tougher side" of the industry, to a point where you might be able to purchase scenes that allow (too much) violence or essntially allow to simulate rape. I am not sure that any hardware vendor, and especially least of all Zuckerberg, would like to see his name in a media bit that reports on extreme outliers of these products and mentions the hardware by name.

            I doubt that anyone would care about static or even interactive porn if they could be sure it remains on todays mostly tame or vanilla gonzo side. But that is not guaranteed.

  2. Terafirma-NZ

    has happened and will happen again

    MakerBot anyone maybe Bre Pettis had a talk and told him about all the exclusive parties you get invited to once you implement DRM.

  3. thexfile

    Palmer Luckey lied. DRM has died.

    1. DropBear
      Joke

      Men everywhere cried. Porn has been denied.

  4. Tom 64

    Was going to slap down cash,

    but I think I'll pay HTC instead.

  5. ZenCoder
    FAIL

    "Our goal is not to profit by locking people to only our hardware.”

    “If customers buy a game from us, I don’t care if they mod it to run on whatever they want... Our goal is not to profit by locking people to only our hardware.” —Palmer Luckey, January 2016

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We Will Win!

    Open Oculus today, content providers must work with us or surrender.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, Oculus did say it was going to be open, thus attracting a big bunch of coders who would otherwise not have bothered. These coders put time and effort into the ecosystem. Then Oculus locked them out....with software.

    The only surprise is that it took a whole weekend. By being underhand, though, Oculus have turned it into a religious war; and one they cannot possibly win. Also, before Friday, people circumventing Oculus stuff might have gone with a light touch...now any DRM is going to be a smoking hole in the ground just on general principles.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Christian Berger

    No they don't have the right to DRM

    DRM systems essentially mean that I as a user have to give up my right to "integrity and confidentiality" of my computer, since I need to run code which works against me.

    1. jzl

      Re: No they don't have the right to DRM

      Nope. You don't have to buy Occulus. Nobody is forcing you. That's the point. It's their product and they can sell it however they want.

      They're idiots and they're definitely a bit evil, but they do have the right to be evil idiots.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No they don't have the right to DRM

        And when they introduce the DRM after you bought it?

      2. raving angry loony

        Re: No they don't have the right to DRM

        @jzl writes You don't have to buy Occulus. Nobody is forcing you. That's the point.

        Incorrect. That is NOT the point.

        The point is that the people bought Oculus having been told it would be open.

        THEN the company implemented the DRM as an update. No warning. No option.

        I don't care if the fucking fine print says "we can change terms and conditions unilaterally at any time, so screw you", it's still a breach of contract, at least in societies with decent consumer protection laws.

        Full refund or shut up about folks making the product what they said it would be.

        1. g e

          Re: No they don't have the right to DRM

          They made a mint off kickstarter then made a bigger mint off facebook.

          Seems to me they can afford to (and SHOULD) lose the KS money if refunds are still available for non-delivered items.

        2. jzl

          Re: No they don't have the right to DRM

          I was answering what you wrote:

          "DRM systems essentially mean that I as a user have to give up my right to "integrity and confidentiality" of my computer, since I need to run code which works against me."

          Not true. At least, the word "have" is problematic.

          In the context of Occulus Thingummy, well sure. But your statement above doesn't stand on its own.

  9. msknight
    Pint

    Oculus breaks word... so people break Oculus.

    Fair exchange in my book.

  10. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "Red Queen Race"

    it's fascinating - if a tad worrying - how naturally the work of Lewis Carroll can be used when writing about IT in C21st.

    The other great phrase (from the Red Queen herself) being

    "When I use a word, it means exactly what I choose it to mean",

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: "Red Queen Race"

      Fairly sure that was Humpty

      1. 's water music

        Re: "Red Queen Race"

        Fairly sure that was Humpty

        Both how I'm living and my nose is large*

        *good for hanging a VR rig on

      2. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Pint

        @Adam 52

        you are of course right, sir !. Have a ------------> on me

        , and enjoy the glorious sunshine :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Red Queen Race"

      "Lewis Carroll" was a brilliant mathematician who observed the office politics of 19th century Oxford, was in touch with a lot of the brightest people of his day and, as a keen photographer, knew all about the chilling effect of the Fox Talbot patents. It would be surprising if he didn't have a message for us.

      Verdict first, trial afterwards!

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: "Red Queen Race"

      "When I use a word, it means exactly what I choose it to mean",

      Up to? Unlimited? Open? :-)

  11. imanidiot Silver badge

    and the ZuckerBook begins to show its tentacles

    No doubt this implementation of DRM happened under pressure from FaceBorg. If it breaks their company, they deserve it.

  12. Sir Alien

    What sad news and lost buyers...

    It seems that Oculus (FaceBook) obviously want the product to fail. When there are non-DRM alternatives out there, the DRM versions always eventually fail.

    Makerbot (3D printers) failed just in this way. Once you have betrayed and lost the trust of the customer base, existing or potential, then you might as well just shut the doors immediately and close down. It's not like this is a mistake of implementing DRM but rather a malicious implementation.

    I was quite interested in Oculus as out of all the headsets it looked the smallest and most comfortable but to be honest, with DRM like that I have reconsidered going for an alternative brand. HTC Vive, OpenVR (Razer) or StarVR if it ever gets released.

    - S.A

  13. John Sanders
    Thumb Down

    Well this only means one thing

    No Oculus for me.

    No sir.

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So, now can we call it Foculous ?

    Never, ever buying a product from Facebook.

    DRM is anathema to me. Nobody has the right to decide what I can do on my PC, period.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So, now can we call it Foculous ?

      Or Fockofculus. Remember what "cul" means in French. It's not a trademark I would have chosen, but I doubt a foreign worlds check was carried out.

  15. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Trollface

    Pret a porter?

    Meanwhile, the handset doesn't have handheld controllers yet, unlike its rival Vive.

    Handset? I think you've been wearing it wrong...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pret a porter?

      I think you should check out Iain Thomson's profile pic...

      http://i.stack.imgur.com/oiYM2.jpg

  16. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Meh

    DRM is a bad idea. Oculus should differentiate their product in terms of feature set and specification to make the users select their product over the competition. The content providers can then make use of the extra features or provide a lesser level of function for hardware that does not have those features. Lock out users without certain hardware - don't go there - only serves to alienate.

    And there's me wondering what all the fuss is about. I last played a computer game about 10 years ago - and that was "Joust" on an Atari ST emulator.

  17. D@v3

    The way i read it...

    now, I know I am almost certainly wrong, and not having any real interest in this argument, I'm not overly bothered either way, however, they way I read...

    "...promised that Oculus would be an open platform..."

    was that the hardware (platform) would be open, allowing non Oculus specific software to run on it, not that the Oculus Exclusive games would be able to run on other hardware.

    As an example, it (as I read it) would be like Microsoft saying the Xbox2 is an open platform, allowing it to play PS3/4/5 games, but not that you can play Xbox games on a PSx.

    Either way, I do agree that moving the goalposts once so many people have invested so much money and time, is a dick move.

    1. Mr M.

      Re: The way i read it...

      I believe the statement was

      “If customers buy a game from us, I don’t care if they mod it to run on whatever they want... Our goal is not to profit by locking people to only our hardware.” —Palmer Luckey, January 2016

      Which to me means exactly that "Oculus Exclusive games would be able to run on other hardware."

  18. User McUser

    On Friday Oculus broke its word and instituted DRM (digital rights management) controls on its virtual reality headset, blocking non-approved games from its kit.

    My understanding of this change was that they are blocking non-Oculus hardware from displaying Oculus exclusive titles. AFAIK they're still allowing 3rd party games and such to use the Rift.

    1. User McUser

      I just verified that I'm right - I just updated my Oculus software to the new version and Steam VR still works with it as does VorpX.

  19. foxyshadis

    I think the reporter is a little bit confused, since the DRM was the hardware check, not a software check. This patch doesn't change anything about whether or not you can pirate a given piece of software, it's about whether you can actually play it with another headset once you get it, by paying or by piracy.

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. ForthIsNotDead

    I read the article all the way to the end...

    ...then realised I don't give a shit about VR headsets.

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