Home Steam—Yes, The Videogame Outfit—Wants To Join The Virtual-Reality Fray

Steam—Yes, The Videogame Outfit—Wants To Join The Virtual-Reality Fray

Valve may be living in its own virtual reality world

Gaming and entertainment platform Steam has confirmed it has a “SteamVR hardware” device in development, which it will show off at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week. The Valve-owned company hasn’t dropped many clues about what this hardware will be, but a headset in the style of the Oculus Rift seems plausible.

Whatever the device is, it’s sufficiently advanced to be used in demos at GDC 2015. Steam’s brief announcement also mentions a dev kit for the previously unannounced gadget and calls for help in developing content for it:

With the introduction of SteamVR hardware, Valve is actively seeking VR content creators. Are you a developer or publisher interested in experiencing the new SteamVR hardware? We’ll be giving scheduled VR demos during the week of GDC, March 4th-6th, 2015, at Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Steam certainly won’t be going out on its own if it does reveal a head-mounted set of VR goggles or something similar. Facebook’s Oculus Rift is perhaps the best-known example of the form, but Microsoft’s HoloLens, the Samsung Gear VR and the Sony Morpheus are all around to keep it company. The crowded market is just one of Steam’s problems.

Out-Of-Steam Machines

Despite all its gaming clout and its 100 million active users, Steam has previously struggled to make the jump into hardware—its SteamOS machines and Steam Controller remain in an uncomfortable commercial limbo, and we should get updates on both at GDC. What’s more, despite the high profile of Oculus Rift and its competitors, no one seems likely to actually make any money from this kit for the foreseeable future.

See also: Steam Machines: How Valve’s Console Army Will Take On Sony And Microsoft

Valve has been spotted working on virtual reality systems in the past—in fact, it has previously helped in the development of the Oculus hardware. With gaming such a good fit for the VR environment it would’ve been surprising for Steam not to have engineers working on the technology.

Up until now, however, the company has denied that it has its own VR headset in the works, despite showing off some rudimentary prototypes in the past. It looks like Steam is ready to give SteamOS machines another shot too, promising “new living room devices” at GDC—possibly a reference to a branded machine of its very own, rather than one developed by a third-party manufacturers, like those shown off last year.

If you’re a developer currently working with virtual reality or interested in doing so, then you can sign up for a demo of what Valve and Steam have in store through the official announcement page. Steam’s existing expertise should make a new VR device worth taking note of, but it’s not going to be easy to come from the back of the field.

Photo by Sergey Galyonkin

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