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.
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
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 Article quotes Oculus - "We will not use hardware checks as part of DRM on PC in the future."
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.
- 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)
-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.
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.
Good for Oculus, but as you point out, bad for consumers who might prefer another vendor's possibly superior hardware.
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.
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.
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'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. Who'da thunk it?
(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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
i don't follow this VR stuff; why should Oculus do that?
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Just like, you know, how you'd treat another human being you hurt.
Agreed that I'd rather get a Vive once there are some games out that I care about playing on it.
It also sends a message to other companies that things like this aren't forgiven easily, whether or not that's the immediate intent.
They will. They'll just have to do it more slowly than they thought.
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.
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.
"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."
I hope that Oculus still gets some shit for attempting to lockdown their ecosystem. But less so than before this.
Especially a company like Facebook. Have we forgotten the Free Basics debacle already?
This isn't "punishment", it's the free market in action.
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.
Consoles have had exclusives since time immemorial and no one seems to bat an eye when it happens. What makes this case special?
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.
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.
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.
Their massive share of teh PC gaming market via steam gives them more freedom.
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.
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.
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".
It's quite a stretch to say that VR is "just a new way to display a game," in my opinion.
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.
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.
And it's not quite a loan. It's prepaid Steam revenue.
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.
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.
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.
To make money. Woah!! A business trying to make money!!! How dare them!!
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.
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.
This is Facebook we're talking about here. Why even take the chance?
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".
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.
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.
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.
Let's go with "shows an ability to admit they're wrong when called on it" at most.
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.
My trust in the Oculus store however remains broken
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.
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.
Because the alternative of Oculus funding games and not getting anything in return makes no sense.
Would you have wanted Microsoft to fund web startups in the 90s that only worked on some sort of proprietary MicrosoftWeb? Probably not.
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.
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.
This change just means Oculus will no longer deliberately block such wrappers from working.
'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!")'
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
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.
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.
Bernie Sanders Says He Will Vote for Hillary Clinton
Do you think that it's inconsistent with Sanders' stated positions that he supports Clinton over Trump?
I will do everything in my power to fight Wall Street, by which I mean I will help their candidate into the Whitehouse.
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.
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.
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.