This Hack Lets You Play Oculus Exclusive Content on the HTC Vive

by David Jagneaux • April 13th, 2016

UPDATE: After this story ran, Oculus PR reached out to us to issue this statement and requested that we add it as an update. The statement is:

“This is a hack, and we don’t condone it. Users should expect that hacked games won’t work indefinitely, as regular software updates to games, apps, and our platform are likely to break hacked software.”

ORIGINAL STORY: This didn’t take very long at all. According to Reddit user CrossVR who asked to go by LibreVR in this article, there is a way to unlock Oculus exclusive content (specifically Lucky’s Tale and Oculus Dreamdeck as of the time of this writing) to work on the HTC Vive. Yes, you read that correctly. This is comparable to hacking your PS4 discs to work on your Xbox One – at least in terms of what it means for breaking down barriers in the exclusivity space.

A big sticking point for a lot of early adopters is the distaste for platform-exclusive content, even though it’s an absolute necessity for a platform to survive and foster competition. I’ll admit though that it does make sense in a way – both of these devices are powered by a PC, intuitively, they should both run the same PC games, right? Well, not so much. The Oculus Store is designed as a bit of a closed-off and hyper-curated warehouse of premium Oculus Rift content that users can pay for. Naturally, the Oculus Store won’t even register your HTC Vive if it’s plugged in and it opens automatically when you put on the Oculus Rift itself. They were very deliberate about how they designed the experience.

On the flip side, Valve utilizes SteamVR as their platform, or rather Steam itself. Many of the VR experiences available on Steam right now, including some of the Vive’s “launch titles” are fully compatible with the Oculus Rift. Games can even have a tab in Steam that denotes their support for the Rift as a platform. Clearly, it’s a much more open environment.

Now, thanks to LibreVR’s hack, the line is about to get a whole lot blurrier. He uploaded the entire process with instructions onto GitHub today, cleverly dubbed “Revive,” and made the announcement via Reddit. The trick is being described as a “proof-of-concept compatibility layer between the Oculus SDK and OpenVR” which allows Vive users to play games that they purchased from the Oculus Store on their Vive headsets.

What’s really interesting about this situation is that Lucky’s Tale and Oculus Dreamdeck – both bundled for all Rift owners and free to download on Oculus Home – are the only two supported titles. The reason this is so interesting is because Lucky’s Tale is a AAA-quality platformer that was intended to be one of the mascots of the system and perhaps even VR itself. Being able to access and play that game – for free, without owning a Rift – is pretty shocking.

Once you’ve installed a game from the Oculus Store, you just download the patch he’s provided and put it in the correct director location. After that you run the correct programs and the games should start up without much hassle. You don’t need to do a whole lot of poking around in any configuration files or anything like that – it’s all fairly simple. Here’s a bit more detail about how it works from LibreVR on GitHub:

“It works by reimplementing functions from the Oculus Runtime and translating them to OpenVR calls. Unfortunately Oculus has implemented a Code Signing check on the Runtime DLLs, therefore the Revive DLLs cannot be used unless the application is patched.

The download includes a patched version of the OculusRoomTiny example to show it can correctly communicate with OpenVR.

The Revive DLLs already contain the necessary hooking code to work around the Code Signing check in any application. However you will still need to patch the application to actually load the Revive DLLs.”

From email correspondence, LibreVR explained that, “The Oculus SDK and OpenVR APIs were heavily influenced by each other, this is probably a testament to how close Oculus and Valve were working together in the early days. This means that for the most part these two APIs seamlessly fit together and writing a compatibility layer is relatively easy.”

Currently, only the two aforementioned games are officially supported, but he does know of people getting War Thunder and Henry to work as well – each of which also appear to be free on the Oculus Store. It appears that a specific patch file is needed for each game to work at the time and LibreVR has only made those two games compatible at this time. “It may work with plenty of other games, but that hasn’t been tested by myself,” LibreVR said. “It’s still early days for this project, since it’s only been in development for a few weeks. In the future more games will be supported, but I’m glad to see such swift progress already.”

OculusHome2016

Future plans include adding support for Oculus Touch titles, which conceivably would port those experiences over to the Vive controllers, as well as implementing OpenGL and DX12 support and supporting online functionality. We’ve reached out to LibreVR for comment and additional information so we will update this story as the information comes in.

“I hope Oculus will choose to see this in a positive light, this compatibility has the potential to bring much more customers to their store,” LibreVR said. “I will never support piracy in this project, you will always need to buy the games you want to play using the Revive project.”

Featured image credit: Norman Chan, Tested.com

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