The VR market is still relatively young, with the Oculus Rift in pre-release developer kit status and plenty of companies still entering the fray. But could an established player in the PC gaming scene upend them all?
That may be the goal of Valve, the company behind the massively successful Steam digital gaming service, not to mention publisher of brilliant games like Portal, Half-Life, and Team Fortress 2 (Oculus promo image shown above). Moments ago, Valve announced plans to show a “previously-unannounced SteamVR hardware system” at the Game Developers Conference next week.
Additionally, Valve plans to show a refined new version of the Steam Controller, which has been in the works for a long time, as well as “new living room devices.” Valve’s Steam Machines initiative hasn’t quite panned out as planned yet, but it may finally be time to make affordable, Steam-ready living room PCs a reality.
And Valve says Steam is “coming this year to a powerful new family of entertainment devices,” so at least some of what’s being shown is apparently just around the corner.
The announcement of a Steam-branded virtual reality headset is a bombshell, and something that’s sure to send a chill down the spine of any other company attempting to enter the space. Oculus may have talent and the early name recognition in VR, but Steam has the devotion and dollars of many millions of gamers. If the hardware is up to snuff, Valve will be a major contender.
GDC 2015 kicks off next week on 4 March, and Valve is opening up demo sessions for developers making VR content. Hopefully the rest of us will get a good, hard look at what the company is planning then, as well.