Gaming consoles are famously designed to lock out software from competing platforms, and the console wars have raged for decades as a result. With the new wave of VR headsets, it looked like Oculus would do much the same with the Rift.
But with a little ingenuity and some clever coding, Oculus' best intentions may be moot. Now there's a way to run exclusive Oculus Rift games and other software on the competing HTC Vive headset, all thanks to a hack discovered and published on Github.
User LibreVR has posted the software, Revive, which is described as a "proof-of-concept compatibility layer between the Oculus SDK and OpenVR" - which is Valve's open-source API that powers Vive software. Essentially, Revive translates Oculus commands to be interpreted by OpenVR's API, allowing Oculus "exclusives" to run with the Vive hardware.
So far, 3D platformer Lucky's Tale and the Oculus Dreamdeck demos are listed to function on the Vive, and Polygon confirmed that both work. It's a relatively simple process to get both working, requiring little more than extracting a program in the folder for each application.
Right now, it only works with games that use the Xbox One gamepad, as well as with Windows 8 or 10 PCs. In time, Windows 7 support will be added, along with OpenGL and DirectX12, as well as the Oculus Touch motion controllers down the line.
We'll have to see if Oculus responds by locking down the current exploits, which seems the likely outcome here, but maybe we'll be happily surprised by some corporate indifference. Given the brutal Rift delays that early orderers are experiencing right now, this could be a tough blow to Oculus. Then again, new Vive orders don't ship until June, so... maybe not.
UPDATE (14/4/16): Oculus PR reached out with a comment, stating, "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."
In other words, they're saying that buying a Vive headset to use with Rift games - or conversely, buying Rift games to use with the Vive - isn't a sure thing, and that Oculus updates could diminish or kill this hacked functionality. Still, coders could always come back with a new solution to overcome any Oculus changes, and it's likely to be a back-and-forth that continues on for some time.