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“Oculus removed the headset check from the DRM in Oculus Runtime 1.5” (github.com)
272 points by T-A on June 24, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 153 comments

I had to google this to have any idea what it was about. The linked release notes don't explain any of the background, the entirety of the content relevant to the headline is this: "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. As such I've reverted the DRM patch and removed all binaries from previous releases that contained the patch."

Apparently Oculus was testing for a present oculus headset in its runtime, so it was difficult for a third-party devs to build shims to connect other VR hardware to it and enjoy VR games built for oculus.

Mods, I'd suggest changing the URL to something with a better explanation, like http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/06/oculus-reverses-course... which includes the above quote in addition to explaining the backstory.

to expand on this a little bit;

There were two functions, one that checked whether the occulus headset was connected, and one DRM function. Occulus consolidated those functions into one, in what many assumed to be a move to be able to justify taking down projects like these under the guise of "they break our DRM", which did end up being a talking point against the projects later on.

Apparently they reversed this change now, and you can write a compatibility shim without breaking the DRM once more

forgive me for my ignorance here but what is a DRM function ?

An euphemism for a strategically designed defect.

"digital rights management"

which usually means "copy protection" introduced with the goal of protecting the vendor, but which almost always degrades the value to the consumer (sometimes catastrophically, if support by the vendor ends; the nest debacle is probably the most recent example)

The function that checks if you own the game. Which LibreVR didn't have to bypass before they consolidated both functions.

Thank you for the context. Headlines like this are maddening; even more so when they lead somewhere with zero additional background.

There's a more in-depth article about this (rather than just the changelog) at http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/06/oculus-reverses-course...

The Article quotes Oculus - "We will not use hardware checks as part of DRM on PC in the future."

Content has almost always sold hardware in the video game industry. Look at all of the exclusive content for Nintendo consoles. Or how many people bought XBox's for the sole purpose of playing Halo.

Sure, most VR hardware options may technically be peripherals for PCs, but at a cost of several hundred dollars or more, it isn't in the same category as PC mouses or joysticks. The way I see it, VR hardware is essentially a standalone device that connects to PCs, simply so that many people won't need to buy that too, saving them $1k-2k.

Creating exclusive games and buying exclusive content licensing/distribution rights for any gaming platform, especially ones in stiff competition for early adopters and the lion's share of a new market, is a great business decision. If Oculus hadn't secured exclusive content, people would have simply bought whichever hardware worked better, or shipped first. In this case, most people would have likely bought the Vive. Oculus knew that superior content is the tie-breaker and can even overshadow slight technological shortcomings, if they exist.

Oculus should never have reversed their plans to keep the content exclusive. Now, many people will just buy Vives and use them to play Oculus-subsidized content. Oculus could have created a great monopoly. Now I suspect they will have serious difficulty building a sustainable business. Peter Thiel is on Facebook's board and Marc Andreessen is on both Facebook's and Oculus's board. I can't imagine either one would support reversing the decision to make exclusive content.

A few counter points:

- hardware exclusives may be a better business model, but consumers (at least a vocal subset) clearly don't like them

- Microsoft seems to be moving towards having all Xbox games run on pc so console exclusives may be on their last legs

- the vr market is relatively tiny, so splitting it up with exclusives will make it harder for devs to justify making content

- game margins are much higher than vr hardware, and do it may be better to have store exclusives rather than hardware (something steam is doing without the backlash)

-Early adopters take considerable risk when buying new hardware. If the market ends up crowning a different system king, your options are: Accept that objectively/subjectively superior technology isn’t the only thing driving sales and adoption. Or be a sore loser (which I’m not admonishing; VR tech is expensive) and complain loudly on message boards.

-I doubt that what Microsoft chooses to do with Xbox games in the future is due to regret or guilt about past decisions regarding exclusive content. Halo served them quite well at the height of the console wars.

-If I’m a dev making VR content and I am doing it to make a living, not just to make something cool to show my friends or as a fun project, my dream is that a VR hardware manufacturer pays a premium for exclusive rights. The hardware manufacturers can currently afford to pay more for exclusive content than they can hope to actually earn from the content, simply to drive hardware sales and platform adoption. I suspect it will be rough for developers, especially small teams, that are unable to negotiate exclusive deals. They will need to optimize and maintain their content for multiple platforms. And what can they hope to earn? <50,000 units in the wild, ~$25 per title Without an exclusive deal, it looks a lot like the movie industry. You either make a hit and do well, do really bad an move on, or worse, you do kind of okay, and then feel obligated to maintain the games and support the few that bought your game for the next few years.

-Exclusive content makes sense for many businesses. Doing it flawlessly, without causing potentially debilitating PR backlash is clearly easier said than done.

VR is effectively a better monitor. The cutting edge monitors also go for hundreds of dollars. Do you agree that monitors should also have proprietary ports that refuse to play non-licensed games or content?

I think your argument is a great defense for whichever VR company ultimately secures a near-monopoly on this market. “Your Honor, my company is really just a fancy monitor company. We are actually in close competition with dozens of monitor and television manufacturers. We don’t have anything close to a monopoly.”

Again, I don’t believe VR hardware is in the same category as most PC peripherals, including monitors. The hardware could easily be marketed as a standalone system if the more traditional PC hardware was put into a pretty box and sold with it. The system would just cost $1k-2k more and few would be able to afford it.

If I was a traditional monitor manufacturer and I created some kind of magical new content for traditional monitor viewing that people would be willing to buy a new monitor to experience, I would definitely try to make it exclusive. Though I’m not sure the best way to do that would be a proprietary port.

"Creating exclusive games and buying exclusive content licensing/distribution rights for any gaming platform, especially ones in stiff competition for early adopters and the lion's share of a new market, is a great business decision. If Oculus hadn't secured exclusive content, people would have simply bought whichever hardware worked better, or shipped first."

Good for Oculus, but as you point out, bad for consumers who might prefer another vendor's possibly superior hardware.

I don't really understand the motivation behind excoriating companies for taking indisputably pro-consumer actions. Pointing out the potential concerns is one thing, but you seem to be genuinely annoyed that Oculus has chosen not to act like jerks in this matter. Do you have Facebook stock? Are you playing devil's advocate?

I do not own Facebook stock, HTC stock, or any other stock associated with VR tech. Also, I do not own any VR systems or have any current plans to buy one.

I was just surprised at Oculus’s reversal. It seemed to be a generally bad business decision for Oculus, as well as a loss for VR developers. Certainly, this is a victory for HTC and other VR hardware competitors. It is also a short-term victory for non-Oculus VR hardware owners. They now get access to some existing content without having to buy a new system. But longer-term, if developers are less motivated to work in the VR space with no hope of negotiating a exclusive contract, I’m not sure the decision is such an indisputable victory for consumers.

I think sergiosgc's thoughts are on the right track "Dividing the market would definitely cause prospective consumers to wait for market stabilization. It is a risk bigger than the risk posed by competitors.” Oculus clearly saw some other risk as being greater than that posed by competitors. But I’m not sure risk of dividing the market or slow market growth are what Oculus was worried about. Dividing the market and slower market growth are both certainly better (for a business) than your competitor getting the majority of the market, which seems much more likely now.

Also, I understood why Vive owners/loyalists would be upset by Oculus-exclusive content. Haters gonna hate. But it didn’t make sense why the VR community in general would be upset. Seanp2k2 mentions in a comment further down “broke promises about DRM”. I am not familiar enough with this controversy to confirm or disconfirm such promises, but if Oculus explicitly promised that they would not prevent their content from being used with other hardware, then breaking those promises would certainly be a risky move. The outrage would at least seem more justified. My guess is that this was the risk that was greater than the risk posed by competitors, and that Oculus underestimated it.

> Sure, most VR hardware options may technically be peripherals for PCs, but at a cost of several hundred dollars or more, it isn't in the same category as PC mouses or joysticks.

But in exactly the same segment as video cards, and you won't see too many games publishers stupid enough to refuse to run their games on unapproved video cards.

There's actually a large exclusivity-style fight going on in the GPU world. It's not as bad as the console style exclusivity but when you develop a major game you often have to choose whether you invite Nvidia or AMD into the process. They'll frequently pay money and/or provide you with advanced middleware technology, resulting in games that perform much much better on the chosen vendor's GPU's. There are even features that are specifically designed to perform horribly on the other vendor's cards, making them de-facto exclusive. Usually it's unimportant stuff like special stuff like Hair simulation but Cloth simulation or advanced shading can feel like real differences in fidelity.

The PC gaming market is different from the console market. PC gamers spend a lot more on their hardware, and in return ask for platform openness and very long backwards compatibility.

Dividing the market would definitely cause prospective consumers to wait for market stabilization. It is a risk bigger than the risk posed by competitors.

They deserved the backlash for implementing it, and I hope the Rift continues to suffer now that people know Facebook's true intentions. Not to mention how poorly they treated early supporters after the buyout, e.g. stocking Rifts on retail shelves before they'd fulfilled orders for all backers, then telling backers who complained to get a refund and go buy one from a store...

They're only doing the "right" thing because they have no choice. They couldn't pump enough money into third party development to make up for the ill will they'd garnered with this exclusivity DRM, especially not with companies like Valve doing the complete opposite -- giving money to third party devs with no exclusivity deals whatsoever.

Turns out some developers can't be bought[1]. Who'da thunk it?

1. https://www.reddit.com/r/Vive/comments/4nxpnq/fuck_facebook_... (For the sake of fairness, it was a time-limited exclusivity offer that was made to the Serious Sam devs, but an exclusivity offer nonetheless.)

I never got the quest for punishment for actions like this.

They did something bad, the community reacted negatively. If they fix the problem, rewarding them is going to make sure it sticks around.

Continuing to "punish" them for something they fixed only sends the message that the fix was pointless and that it would have been better to ignore the problem like so many other companies (including Facebook themselves) do.

If you don't continue to punish them it sends the message that it's OK to do bad things if you back pedal. This is basically Facebook's strategy on everything including privacy.

Let's say they want to implement some new feature that they know will impact user privacy. They push two steps further than that they really want. Then when users backlash, Facebook takes one step back. Everyone is happy and Facebook gets more than they originally intended. Rinse. Repeat.

No, it sends a message that you shouldn't bother with the customers you can't please no matter what you do, and just focus on the ones who don't get so emotional about stuff like this.

How hard is it not to try to embrace extend extinguish the VR headset market. How can you possibly conflate those who aren't pleased with scummy companies manipulative nonsense with "can't please no matter what you do".

Its actually relatively easy to please most people. Make something worthwhile, take their money, fix it when it breaks.

It usually becomes complicated because people want to give people as little as possible, rake them over the coals as hard as possible and blame someone else when it breaks.

We keep punishing because we're still not satisfied, and because we can't catch their wrong doing all the time so we punish them to detract from their aggregate gains from wrong-doing.

So, you punish them for their assumed transgressions. That's rather medieval of you.

The transgressions are not assumed. All they've done is reverted a small piece of DRM that was leading to piracy. They have not opened up their store at all. It's still completely closed to non-Oculus hardware.

Perhaps you're missing context to understand why people are upset. Oculus has went so far as to actually pay developers of open, non-exclusive VR games to restrict their games to the Rift and Touch only, either indefinitely or for a period of at least six months. These are games that were already in development. In one case, people had even pre-ordered Giant Cop for the Vive through the Humble Bundle, but Oculus purchased timed exclusivity rights for the game afterwards.

It's a really nasty situation, and Oculus deserves every bit of criticism they've received. This reversal of a tiny piece of their overall exclusivity strategy does not in any way diminish or undo everything else they've been doing. In fact, it's completely irrelevant for anyone who wasn't planning on pirating content.

> They have not opened up their store at all. It's still completely closed to non-Oculus hardware.

i don't follow this VR stuff; why should Oculus do that?

Because it's anti-consumer and it stifles innovation. It's the same problem with console exclusives. It allows a company to release an inferior hardware product and crush the market by using other people's software offerings, rather than have to compete on the hardware front.

Same reasons why nvidia shouldn't pay anyone to make sure a game won't run on ATi cards?

Everything you've listed is well publicized and I'm quite unhappy about. "because we can't catch their wrong doing all the time" made it sound like you assumed there was even more that we have not caught, so let's keep punishing them based on that assumption.

The person you are responding to never said "because we can't catch their wrong doing all the time"

I'm not the person who wrote that.

Are 'punitive damages' medieval? If Oculus takes anti-consumer measures, then reverses course and consumers jump back on board as if nothing ever happened, why wouldn't they re-enact those measures once they have the leverage to do so? If HTC does capture the lion's share of the market, and they see there were no long-term consequences to enacting those anti-consumer measures, why wouldn't HTC do the same?

These companies aren't your friend. As is always stated, they exist to make money, whether that's in the best interest of the consumer or not. That's capitalism, that's fine. Certainly in this space, I don't think anyone is realistically arguing that there is some better method (would the R&D emerge to create and market VR in a communist society? Seems unlikely to me). That doesn't justify not taking punitive action against anti-consumer businesses/actions (Facebook, e.g.); for the system to work, consumers need to be avidly pro-consumer.

I think for this it is twofold:

1. They're only doing this because of the community reaction/outrage. I want to be able to trust a company to at least appear to have my interests in mind, I don't want to have to be ever vigilant, ready to "freak out" whenever they do something bad in order for them to respond and actually fix it. They're showing that they only care that we noticed them doing shitty things, not that they're actually concerned about doing shitty things.

2. They are not in anyway apologetic for what they've done. They don't see their previous actions as a bad thing, they just see them as undesirable given community reaction. A key component to conflict resolution is not perpetrating in the future, which generally requires at least an acknowledgement of past problems, how can I trust an entity that has solved a problem that it does not even recognize it as a problem in the first place?

Both of these issues make me extremely distrustful towards the company as they both indicate a high likelihood of screwing customers over in the future.

Well, they recognize a problem, the community and them just disagree on what the problem was. The community views the problem as exclusivity deals. Oculus/Facebook see the problem as bad PR causing them to miss out on exclusivity deals they'd like to make and ineffective DRM (to be clear it isn't the DRM that they view as the problem, but that it was apparently too easy to bypass the DRM). Oculus "fixed" the problem by removing the DRM check (which wasn't doing much anyway), which they're hoping will also clear up that little PR issue. Once people forget about all this and they build up their market dominance a bit more, they'll take another swing at exclusivity deals in the hope that they'll be big enough to force the developers they want into it despite the community backlash it will cause.

The thing that bugs me about the whole thing is, the headset check does nothing for the fundamental implementation of the exclusivity deal. If I buy it through the Oculus store, then Oculus still gets their cut. After that, it really doesn't matter which headset I play the game on. The deal was still a success. I gave them money, and even did it on the storefront they sold the game on. What's the big deal?

I still think exclusivity deals are a bit bogus to begin with, but I think a perfectly reasonable compromise is to be exclusive to a particular storefront, but not a particular device. If another device shows up with the right capabilities, and the community is willing to do the leg work to port my legitimately purchased game to it? Awesome! Rah rah community, you've just expanded my potential market considerably, for no effort on my part.

The only real advantage I can see for a developer to be exclusive to hardware at this point is to cut down on development costs in the first place. The hardware platforms are emerging, very different, and not always compatible, even if it seems like they would be on the surface. So I can understand the reservations against wanting to code for or support more than one complicated VR setup. But if anything, it's been shown that the VR community right now is chock full of enthusiasts and tech--savvy people who will happily take a stab at those sorts of complicated ports all on their own. I think it's important that they have the freedom to do just that.

The entire reason for the exclusivity is to drive sales of their hardware.

If they need to sell 500 units of hardware or 5000 games to break even on a given investment, and selling that hardware also increases the odds that you'll purchase other exclusives from their store once you've sunk the cost, there's plenty of motivation to do it, even if you don't end up buying most of the exclusive games.

(Note that I am not weighing in on the ethics of this, just remarking that there is a legitimate business reason to do it.)

Or, essentially, PC gamers would rather not trade control and cash for simplicity like console games have.

It's not just the storefront, Oculus sells headsets too. But even more than making money right now on software and hardware, they want to capture the emerging VR market, dominate it for years, and make even bigger profits when the market has grown up.

> They're only doing this because of the community reaction/outrage.

Well duh. If the community was delighted about it or didn't care then was it really a bad thing? What do you expect a company to do, get everything right the first time no matter what, or suffer punishment? It seems they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

I expect Palmer to come out and issue a public statement about how they violated the trust of their consumers, the lessons they've learned, and what steps they are now taking to mend the relationship that they've damaged.

Just like, you know, how you'd treat another human being you hurt.

Companies are people, but they're the kind of people whose only concern in "life" is increasing shareholder value.

Agreed that I'd rather get a Vive once there are some games out that I care about playing on it.

> Continuing to "punish" them for something they fixed only sends the message that the fix was pointless

It also sends a message to other companies that things like this aren't forgiven easily, whether or not that's the immediate intent.

As a consumer it's a trust issue. How can I trust that they wont try to sneak this in some time in the future?

> How can I trust that they wont try to sneak this in some time in the future?

They will. They'll just have to do it more slowly than they thought.

I think a "hey we messed up" would go a long way.

That won't happen because to them the only thing they messed up was the execution.

Companies shouldn't be able to get away with things until a critical mass of complaints begins to affect their reputation and revenue. Because they will continue to make poor decisions for the consumer until they get slapped hard enough publicly to stop it.

Brand loyalty means something for a reason. Oculus squandered a lot of community trust here and that doesn't instantly return by reversing the poor decision. They knew what they were doing and they did it anyway and didn't stop until public pressure became too much to ignore.

They haven't fixed the problem. They just removed one particular bit of DRM because it was immediately thwarted and then led to piracy of their content. It's still the case that the Oculus store is completely closed off to all non-Oculus hardware without using third-party hacks.

Ultimately, though, it's about trust more than punishment. Oculus lost mine. And now they'll have to actively work to regain it. This one rather tiny move is not sufficient.

All non-Oculus hardware... aside from GearVR, Samsung's HMD.

Gear VR is actually an Oculus product:


What do you think about these cases I made up:

"I am sorry officer, I realized that you were coming after me to detain me for stealing. There's no need! I'll just put these back."

"I've been bullying all other kids since years. I've realized that's why nobody wants me as their friend. I will cease the bullying immediately and I'm sure they'll invite me to the big party tomorrow."

Let's compromise.

I hope that Oculus still gets some shit for attempting to lockdown their ecosystem. But less so than before this.

What's funny here to me at least is how they could come out with a comprehensive statement about how they got off on the wrong foot and screwed over their early adopters, broke promises about DRM, etc and win back a lot of support. The only reason which I can imagine they're not doing exactly this right now is because they're planning on doing the same types of things in the future.

We don't all look at corporations like our own children: "sure they screwed up but as long as the fix it all is forgiven." We look at corporations as full grown adults who only get one real chance. Think about all the strategy that went into the DRM change, there was a lot of thought behind the decision, which revealed true long term intentions. This was not a momentary temper tantrum, this was premeditated. You can expect something similar to happen in the future with the rift. Worst case...Rift proves the market and does a whole bunch of R/D that 2nd or 3d generation suppliers can capitalize on. I will not be purchasing a Rift, ever.

The general rule of thumb is that trust is easier to lose than to establish, and that punishment should far exceed the crime. Absent that, the "ask forgiveness" strategy tends to take hold, requiring relentless vigilance and generally wasting everyone's time.

When you do a bad thing, stopping that bad thing when being called on it doesn't mean everything is suddenly fine again. You still get punished. Your reputation still suffers. And people will be less likely to trust you.

Why would you trust a company when you know they only care about you to the extent that it affects their bottom line?

Especially a company like Facebook. Have we forgotten the Free Basics debacle already?

They destroyed their customer's trust.

This isn't "punishment", it's the free market in action.

Firstly companies that have done this before will do this again. Also companies respond to incentives so it’s important to heavily disincentivize things that you really do not like. This level of douchebaggery I think merits needs some consequences

Never mentioning the poor behaviour doesn't reinforce the message. When you teach a child you have a continual need to do this, "I don't want a fuss like Saturday when we do this, I want you to behave, like yesterday" then ideally get them to say what's they are going to do. Corporations are clearly like young children in my mind.

Not to mention how poorly they treated early supporters after the buyout

You're kidding right? Oculus was very generous to early supporters. Name one other Kickstarter project that shipped backers the full retail version of the finished product in addition to their original purchase.

Yeah there was a slight delay, but really, original backers came out pretty good on the deal.

Disclosure: I was an early backer. My free retail Rift arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I'm happy.

I don't understand the exclusivity outrage. It seems entirely fair to me for a platform holder to expect something in return for funding development of a game.

Consoles have had exclusives since time immemorial and no one seems to bat an eye when it happens. What makes this case special?

VR headsets aren't platforms in their own right with their own operating systems like consoles are, they're hardware peripherals. It would be like a company refusing to launch their game unless it detected the "right" controller plugged in to the computer. All of the game's code is being executed by the PC itself--that's why a shim like this was almost instantly thrown up to allow Oculus Store games to be played on the Vive, all they needed to do was translate the I/O from the Vive to the protocol that the game was expecting from a Rift. It's along the same lines as x360ce, a wrapper that lets you use any gamepad you want with games that only have official support for Xbox Controllers.

There are real differences in the Rift/Vive systems right now in terms of what they're capable of (Vive has touch controllers, Rift won't get them until a few months down the road), but hardcoding a check into your DRM that makes sure that you're using the correctly branded headset is just asinine. There's no real differences between the headsets themselves that justify it, it's just artificially trying to cut out competition.

All other things being equal, hardware exclusivity is terrible for consumers. Oculus is free to do whatever they want, "fair" or not, and consumers are free to vote with their wallets in return.

I think people have been particularly vocal here because a) the exclusivity ship sailed for consoles decades ago while the VR market is fresh, b) because the market for 1st-gen VR is mostly early adopters who pay attention to these things and have strong opinions, and c) because Oculus have seemingly been saying one thing and doing another.

Exclusivity has been horrible for consumers in the console market. Speaking for myself, I'd like to put my foot down and say "No, you aren't going to pull the same crap here". I personally really want VR, which means I want it done right. I fear that if it starts off on the wrong foot, it won't get anywhere.

Many people have batted many eyes about that. Those people typically are big fans of PC gaming, which happens to be the audience that Oculus is targeting. So Oculus is targeting the demographic amongst gamers which is the most opposed to exclusives.

By the way, Valve is supplying quite a bit of funding to VR developers as well but is somehow managing to do it without requiring exclusivity. At the very least, Oculus could require store exclusivity but not hardware exclusivity.

Finally, just because one demographic has gotten used to it (console gamers) doesn't mean it's right. Many folks understand the dangers of exclusives, and they want to prevent that from creeping into PC gaming.

> but is somehow managing to do it without requiring exclusivity. At the very least, Oculus could require store exclusivity but not hardware exclusivity.

Their massive share of teh PC gaming market via steam gives them more freedom.

Their massive share is the result of many years of operating fairly, while navigating the dangerous waters of drm. Valve built a lot of trust, and they are capitalizing on it.

That is, they behaved like they this even when they were not kings of the market, so the reasoning behind this is more akin to company culture than it is to market strategy.

People have gotten used to it in the console market, but to PC gamers the idea of being locked out of games based on your hardware is new.

This just goes to show why it's important to take a stand now, before we internalise this new, worse state of affairs and stop being outraged.

This isn't "Halo is Exclusive to Xbox only". It's "Halo is exclusive to Samsung 4k Ultra HD TVs".

I'm not a huge fan of exclusives either, but (technical reasons aside) how is your example different?

It actually takes effort to port a game to a different system or OS. I'm not a fan of exclusives either, but at least sometimes there is a real reason (we did not code the PS4/PC/Mac/Linux/Wii/PowerPC/32bit version), but this is an entirely artificial and arbitrary restriction.

Edit: technical reasons aside, I guess there is no difference. But at least one excuse can fall back on semi-technical reasons... This sort of exclusivity is purely for marketing and contractual reasons. It actually requires more effort to make the game exclusive than it does to make it multi "platform".

They compare like for like, a display.

Oculus leadership have been adamantly vocal since the Kickstarter days that they would never inhibit interoperability with competing HMDs.

Because rift is not a freaking console. It is just a new way to display a game that is running on a PC.

It's hardly a peripheral though. VR games are incompatible with traditional displays, and the development requirements are quite a bit more strict (low latency, high framerate).

It's quite a stretch to say that VR is "just a new way to display a game," in my opinion.

It's an extremely complicated peripheral, but it's still a peripheral. It's a monitor with an intricate tracking system that allows it to tell the PC powering it its exact location and orientation within a limited area. Playing a VR game is nothing like playing a game on a 3D monitor, it feels like you've been transported to another dimension, but the hardware itself isn't doing anything to execute the game and is still "just" a peripheral like a keyboard, monitor, or gamepad. It's just being fed what it should display by the PC and feeding the PC back information about its location and orientation. That's why Oculus initially needed to put a hardware check into their DRM to block shims like this, there's no real technical reason you can't use one in place of the other once you translate its I/O.

Vr games work fine with traditional displays, I've seen plenty of screenshots on my traditional display. It isn't pleasant or immersive that WA, of course.

Some games purposely designed for both or originally designed for monitors and then ported to VR might be able to, but the vast majority of them are going to rely on the headset's position in real life to move the player character in the game. If it's developed for the Vive or Touch it'll also rely on motion controllers to interact with the game world. You could look at the game on the monitor, but you'd have no way to move or actually do anything in the game.

it's a display, there are outputs of location data to the computer but they don't come from the headset, they come from other peripherals.

if I then plug the display into my video card; then that makes it a head mounted monitor with drivers to output data specific to that display.

People complain about console exclusives all the time. It's kind of receded into the noise floor, but they're still there.

And it's entirely fair for me, and others, to be outraged at this tactic.

How do people not yet know Facebook's true intentions? They are incredibly untrustworthy. They've shown this time and again.

> Especially not with companies like Valve doing the complete opposite giving money to third party devs with no exclusivity deals whatsoever.

Valve forces devs that take their money to have their game on Steam until they have paid back the loan. That's not exclusivity but it's also not no-strings. Valve has an agenda just like Oculus.

But that's considerably more reasonable than asking that the developer completely lock out 50% (or more) of their potential customer base.

And it's not quite a loan. It's prepaid Steam revenue.

Is money ever no-strings? It seems perfectly reasonable how Valve does it.

To be fair it's pretty dumb given Steam's current market position to not release on Steam. Given that is unlikely to change the "strings" on this deal really don't seem that bad. There is nothing stopping you from also publishing on Oculus store (if they allow non-exclusives) in addition to SteamVR.

The only thing that would make it nasty is if there is nasty clauses in the case you are unable to meet the prepaid Steam revenue. However I don't know the answer to that.

> stocking Rifts on retail shelves before they'd fulfilled orders for all backers

That I'm not so annoyed with. Their retail contracts would have had set due dates with penalties for breaching them. The backer headsets were giveaways right? They weren't promised when they originally ran the Kickstarter as I recall.

It wasn't just Kickstarter giveaways, but all pre-order sales. They severely underestimated volume iirc.

People who care about this stuff are a tiny fraction of the market that oculus is going for. I don't think the vast majority of potential VR customers have even heard of VR yet, let alone are following the valve/oculus nonsense.

you must not know many gamers. I think you're talking about your average joe, but average joes who play video games are still gamers and know about this stuff because it's important to them.

as far as never heard of VR... what planet are you on :D VR has been around since we could fit screens on our heads, like crt style. edit: spelling

I bought the Dev Kit 1, but with the move to include DRM, combined with the fact that the Vive seems to better in every way except for Audio, I really don't see myself buying the retail Rift.

> Facebook's true intentions

To make money. Woah!! A business trying to make money!!! How dare them!!

yeah but you can be a nice company that actually cares about people, and takes really good care of their customers and still make money. you can also be a company of douche cookies and make money, but that lowers our collective trust, goodwill and happiness.

It really depends on the market conditions.

No it doesn't.

That's like arguing it was okay to cheat on your wife because of the state of the relationship. It's a douche thing to do either way.

Thats a bad anaolgy.

If the market you're in is very competitive, and all the customers buy from "mean companies" just because they're cheaper,

then being nice, if it's expensive, will run you out of business.

The airline industry is very similar to this.

Because there was backlash. But I doubt Facebook changed its original intentions of locking down the platform. What happens if Oculus Rift takes 80% of the market? Will it still allow the Vive or other headsets to play nice with Oculus-exclusive games?

This is Facebook we're talking about here. Why even take the chance?

Jeez, you can't even give them some credit for doing the right thing?

Doing the right thing in response to backlash suggests that you would rather do the wrong thing, but couldn't get away with it. There are several other VR vendors; this provides at least some motivation to favor another vendor.

So by your logic, nobody can ever legitimately apologize for something or change their behavior without being disingenuous. Everybody loses, no matter what they do.

No, not at all. But as another response noted, trust is a lot easier to lose than to regain.

A clear statement about the matter can help a bit. Active steps to make the ecosystem less proprietary would help as well.

That would help turn the message from "sorry we got in trouble" to "sorry we made a mistake, here's what we learned and what we're doing to fix it".

If the individual or company in question has a lengthy, well documented history of always taking the worst (from a consumer/privacy perspective) possible path?

Then no, no they don't get a free "oh, no problem, it's okay" card when they grudgingly backpedal after a particularly terrible decision blows up in their face.

They don't lose no matter what they do.

Them changing course should mean that they receive LESS backlash. But not no backlash.

Thus, their situation goes from "really terrible PR problem" to "moderately bad PR problem".

If they didn't want the PR problem, then they shouldn't have tried to screw over consumers in the first place.

Trust has been broken, and if they want that trust back they need to build it up over time by consistently making good decisions that don't hurt consumers.

No, it takes longer to earn trust than distrust. A continued demonstration that facebook has the consumer's best interests in mind might earn trust, but a quick response to backlash doesn't mean all is forgiven. It is a step in the right direction, though.

To be fair, doing the right thing after the wrong thing is different than the right thing in the first place.

they're not doing the right thing, they're undoing the wrong thing they went out of their way to do. And it's not the only sleazy thing they're doing, that palmer & co. previously said they wouldn't (read: buying exclusivity)

No. This was a loss in the court of public opinion. If I sue my landlord and win, I do not give him/her credit for paying me the damages assessed by the court. In fact, in the above analogy, I would in fact take a debit...

Dude, they were not legally obligated to do this. In fact, they could have easily ignored the vocal minority and focused on the larger consumer base. But they went out of their way to change their decision based on the feedback from the vocal minority which both shows great self-awareness and guts (since we all know the vocal minority is not always right, especially in terms of the bottom line).

> Dude, they were not legally obligated to do this.

I did realize that. The court of public opinion is not a real entity. It was a plot-device, analogy to point out why I believe they made the correct decision which was a selfish appraisal of their leverage.

I encourage their selfishness, because they should be self-interested, but I will not champion them for it. I am not a gamer, but as a technophile I have heard many people on reddit, HN and various other places commenting about how they are doing a poor job.

This isn't the worlds biggest social network where they can kill messenger and force users to download their apps. This is a nascent technology that has not decided on a platform or set of platforms. They need the community to embrace them both as developers and as consumers. They also need potential customers to embrace the technology. This was a smart capitulation, but a back-pedal after they got a market reality check.

You realize that the fact that most people are silent doesn't imply they are entirely indifferent. Especially the developers.

> great self-awareness and guts

Let's go with "shows an ability to admit they're wrong when called on it" at most.

Someone righting a thing doesn't mean you can't be wary of them.

It's not the right thing for the right reason though. You're not a good person if the only reason you don't shoplift is because the store has a security guard.

Oculus themselves also haven't announced this, or anything about the rest of their DRM. This is like shoplifting everything in the store except the goods near the security guard.

Oculus didn't announce this. This is an independent developer making the claim. Oculus has now said they won't use hardware checks in PC DRM, but didn't rule out checks on other platforms. Oculus also indicated that they will use methods other than "hardware checks" to implement a DRM scheme.

This is actually big news.

My trust in the Oculus store however remains broken

Why? They fixed the problem. Do you cut people out of your life the first time they make mistakes?

As with all things it would depend on what they did. If the mistake was stabbing a homeless person I certainly would. At the very least losing trust based off of mistakes seems pretty reasonable to me.

And why is the person making amends? Shouldn't that be taken into consideration? If they're only saying sorry to take advantage of you again?

In the prior thread you accused people of being emotional. I don't have personal relationships with people I do business with. I don't do business with people who treat me badly even once unless I have limited options.

So how long have you worked for facebook?

I disliked the DRM as well, and applauded when they removed it, but on second thoughts, I don't find it unfair to expect something in return when Oculus is funding a game.

Developers are free to refuse Oculus's money and make a cross-platform game.

I don't see what was wrong here in the first place, when I step back and think about it calmly.

It's an attempt to bring hardware-based exclusivity agreements to a gaming platform (PCs) that has traditionally been more of a free-for-all. PC gamers overwhelmingly do not want this. The same goes for many of the other norms of gaming consoles. Many choose PC gaming over consoles for its relative openness and customizability. That's where a lot of the outrage is coming from, even if Oculus is fully within their rights to do this.

Also, Palmer used to go on record saying that they wanted VR to be an open platform. So there's a bit of betrayal mixed in.

The Palmer statement makes sense. Regarding the rest of what you wrote, would you be fine if Oculus stopped funding games and so there are less games made?

Because the alternative of Oculus funding games and not getting anything in return makes no sense.

I would be totally fine if Oculus stopped funding games resulting in fewer games made. That's a tiny price to pay for openness.

Would you have wanted Microsoft to fund web startups in the 90s that only worked on some sort of proprietary MicrosoftWeb? Probably not.

I would be fine with them not doing that. I canceled my Oculus pre-order and ordered a Vive instead when they started doing that, even though it meant an inability to play the locked-down games. I have 0 interest in having a part of my game library being locked into a DRM'd hardware ecosystem, where my games stop working if I want to buy a different brand of second gen hardware.

Also, in return, they get more hardware sales and a more vibrant VR ecosystem, so they don't get nothing. One alternative is to set up a joint VR development fund with Valve. It sounds like Valve is doing this on their own, without exclusivity requirements.

It makes so much sense that Valve is doing it. Valve loans funds to developers and gets paid back in future Steam sales.

In order to support the original intent of LibreVR (allowing any headset to run occulus content), the only way to bypass the hardware check was to remove the DRM checking completely.

This had an unintended consequence of potentially allowing abuse.

With Occulus removing that hardware check, LibreVR was able to revert it's "YANK ALL THE DRM" solution.

The checks made no sense in the first place, it's a loose-loose on all ends for occulus. A closed ecosystem basically does not work when it comes to PC gaming, and with hardware this expensive it's not like you could buy the valve-sponsored vive and the rift.

Does this mean any vr headset will work with games from the Oculus store?

You still need a third party wrapper like Revive to translate the games Oculus API calls to the OpenVR API most other VR headsets use.

This change just means Oculus will no longer deliberately block such wrappers from working.

Wow, this must have been a hell of an internal fight. Glad this was the conclusion though, open platforms are the only way I can see these current solutions being useful at all. Let's just hope we don't see similar restrictions cropping up on the other side of the fence.

I believe that it doesn't let you just plug in another Headset and use it with the official Oculus store - but it becomes pretty trivial for 3rd party 'hacks' like Revive to let you launch your Oculus games on an unsupported headset, rather than needing to go through a ton of trouble to circumvent the DRM.

What does this mean?

Different context, but Dan Savage articulates this well. Relevant (and censored, because he is who he is) paragraph from a long blog post [1] on Sanders vs. Clinton:

'It's ####ing moronic—it's political malpractice—to attack a politician for coming around on your issues. There are lots of other issues the queer community is going to be pressing politicians on, from passing equal rights bills and trans rights bills to defeating anti-trans bathroom legislation and RFRAs. If pols who are currently on the wrong side of any of those issues see no benefit to changing their positions—if they see no political benefit—they're going to be harder to persuade. Why should they come around on our issues, why should they switch sides or change their votes, if we're going to go after them hammer and tongs for the positions they used to hold? ("Please change your mind and support us." "No." "Pretty please?" "OK, I've changed my mind and I'll vote to support you." "#### YOU FOR NOT ALWAYS AGREEING WITH ME! I'M NOT VOTING FOR YOU! #### YOU SOME MORE!")'

[1] http://www.thestranger.com/blogs/slog/2016/02/22/23606058/hi...

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11971984 and marked it off-topic.

Yeah. I mostly intended commentary on the Oculus issue, but the context of the quote was definitely inflammatory.

Well, this is missing the point, in both cases. Opponents of neither Hillary Clinton nor Oculus are opposing them for the sole reason "they used to have this opinion".

In Oculus's case, this DRM was only the most obscene manifestation of their exclusivity strategy - the one that would set them up to be, going forward, between a legal rock and a PR hard place if they kept it in (they'd have to either leave ReVive's DRM-breaking alone, making their case in court harder if suing someone breaking DRM with the intent to steal games, or they'd have to send ReVive a DMCA takedown, and face a fatal PR backlash).

While Oculus has extricated themselves from that strategically untenable position, they're still pursuing a market-dividing strategy of exclusives through every other, subtler and less-ambiguously-legal, avenues, like timed exclusivity deals. THIS is why people are continuing to rail against Oculus.

If Oculus genuinely changed their position on exclusives (ie, they removed that restriction for every game they'd "supported" with such a deal), the VR enthusiast community would, reluctantly, welcome them back into the fold. However, that is nowhere near what Oculus are actually doing here - they're just adjusting their course so that they'll face less resistance to do the stuff everybody hates them for.

So as to keep this comment "apolitical" (as if corporate actions are less consequential than outright political ones), I've posted my response to Savage in a separate thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11973600

Exactly. Flip-flopping is not bad. Having malicious intent is bad regardless of the method or "opinion". Both cases here are bad. Abandoning early backers for profit is malicious. No one forced Hillary to rally against gay-marriage in 2004, she did that for political influence. That is malicious. The fact that she has switched sides now that it's favorable (for even more political influence) proves it.

In the Clinton case, she doesn't own her flip flops, she tries to rewrite history. Instead of discussing in depth how and what changed her mind (which would be really powerful), she will just claim to have always been a tireless campaigner for the issue. Its evident her flip flops are not from a change of personal philosophy but only because its now politically expedient to adopt a position.

Similarly with Oculus. Have they changed their philosophy on openness? Probably not. We will just see them attempt their goal in a different way e.g. all sorts of incompatible features in their v2.

In the Hillary Clinton case, it's not because she changed her opinion - it's because she only changed her opinion once it was clear she'd face more backlash for holding it than abandoning it (indeed, the opposite appears to be the only reason she'd ever held her original stance in the first place). This indicates that, on future civil-rights issues to come that will have a similar public adoption curve (ie. transgender acceptance), she'll take the same strategy of appeasing the opposition until she can no longer get away with it - and, by turn, if the political winds blow the other way and the makeup of her constituency regresses toward a majority of bigots, she'd be perfectly willing to strip those enfranchised by her previously-enacted positions, so as to be continuously pleasing the majority.

Voters refusing to fall in for Hillary Clinton are holding out for a candidate like Bernie Sanders, who has made it clear that he will follow his moral compass, even when the people around him have been whipped into a hateful frenzy. Considering the history-repeating-itself rise of nationalism and racism in the face of economic hardship the world is currently barreling toward, this is the only kind of leader that Sanders supports feel could possibly help to right the ship.

Meanwhile :

Bernie Sanders Says He Will Vote for Hillary Clinton


A Trump presidency scares people. Especially with the current power of the Executive. About half of his supporters say that they'll vote for Clinton, too.

Do you think that it's inconsistent with Sanders' stated positions that he supports Clinton over Trump?

That's not being guided by a moral compass, it is being pragmatic.

I will do everything in my power to fight Wall Street, by which I mean I will help their candidate into the Whitehouse.

The other side of that coin is there needs to be a cost to bad actions.

If Bernie Maddoff was to reimburse every penny he stole, would you ask people to trust him with their money? I expect not. Similarly, if a politician was against equal rights for a long time and only changed their mind around the time it was ruled unconstitutional, I wouldn't ask people to trust them with their future.

Why should they come around on our issues

Because it's not about issues anymore, it's about identity. We live in the era of identity politics. Issues serve only as litmus tests, dog whistles, and shibboleths today. When a politician comes around on an issue, they give off a red flag: they are not a genuine member of the ingroup. They are an impostor.

Hahaha, this comment is exactly why Sanders and his supporters continue to attack Clinton on the issues. It shows a clear misunderstanding of why the issues popped up in the first place and the world view that makes such issues important. It assumes that politics is just tit for tat, and issues are like the American flag pin politicians wear after tragedies... merely accessories to appeal to a certain demographic in order to garner votes.

Funny to see Dan Savage labeling people holding a politicians feet to the fire as "political malpractice" though, as if lip service to dearly held beliefs should be enough to shelter politicians from any and all criticism. Haven't you guys heard? Politics is just a game for the DC pundit elite to play, and the poors who campaign for issues that directly effect their day to day lives need to simmer down and stop being so hostile.

The real reasons Clinton continues to get attacked for "coming around" on issues that she's "come around" for are:

1) Disingenuous support. Clinton seems to be doing 180's on issues that are not only completely antithetical to her past actions and words (and current platform), but also completely antithetical to the aims of the people who continue to give her money. This brings her incentives into question, especially when she won't release her material used at private fundraisers (remember when the Clinton campaign actively pumped white noise into a neighborhood to prevent the surrounding areas to hear what she was saying over loudspeakers at an outdoor event?)

2) Her past history shows a continued reneging on progressive positions after election time and continued return to center. Continuing to press the issue makes this a lot harder to do, and makes any future turn around a lot more apparent in it's hypocrisy.

3) Lip service/superficial support that will create no real policy changes. An example of this is the minimum wage 180. $12 is what a lot of progressive activists were looking for 10 years ago, before 2008 and the financial crisis. The logic goes that after years of hardship by the middle and lower class a higher number is needed to fully right the economic ship. Such a partial endorsement and half hearted attempt to satisfy "both sides" speaks to political machinations and a centrist mentality that would easily compromise further against any opposition. This point of view is reinforced and mainly driven by Clinton's history as an elected official.

4) The constant and incessant slandering and character assassination of Sanders and his supporters by Clinton and her supporters. Do you really expect to be welcomed with open arms for half heartedly accepting facets of Sanders' platform after running article after article about how that platform is the worst thing to happen to America since Jim Crow? How about how the meme where the entirety of the opposition are misogynistic white men out to ruin women for the sake of ruining women? How their insistence on a progressive agenda is somehow akin to Gore losing, and thus the inception of the Iraq war (which Hillary voted for). How about the hit pieces describing the imaginary "bros" who will vote for Trump, when in reality the entire factual basis for that narrative was a parody twitter account run by 4chan Trump supporters. Not even getting into the whole "you are the sum of your vocal, virulent minority, but please don't use that same argument against our campaign" tripe that seems to be spewed whenever a Clinton supporter gets backed into a corner.

Apologies for this off topic rant, but boy does rhetoric like that above really get me steaming. It's gone on for too long and it's embarrassing to see on Hacker News.

you're my soul mate. thankyou.

It's because people want to see politicians as idealists — while usually, cynics who just want to get elected actually make the best politicians in a functioning democracy while idealists tend to become bloody tyrants.

Mao and Pol Pot, maybe, but the vast majority of bloody tyrants are cynics, too.


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