Two video game titans are getting together today in support of virtual reality.
Valve and Unity Technologies are announcing today that the Unity Platform will have native support for SteamVR, which is Valve’s tech behind the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. This means that it will be easier for game developers to use the Unity game engine to create VR games for the HTC Vive and any other systems that use SteamVR. Valve created the SteamVR platform as an open system that counters the closed system (as perceived by Valve) of the Oculus Rift, a VR headset that Facebook’s Oculus VR division launches on March 28. The HTC Vive is scheduled for a launch sometime in April. The alliance is a big deal, as Unity has more than 4.5 million registered users for its Unity game engine.
And right now, VR is a war for the hearts and minds of developers. Unity has to make this kind of progress in order to stay ahead of rivals like Amazon, which launched its own free 3D game engine for Amazon Web Services customers this week.
I tried out a dozen games on the HTC Vive, and I’m very impressed with the quality. With the native support, developers will be able to make SteamVR games using Unity at no extra cost. Valve has also created a new VR rendering plug-in for Unity that allows for enhanced performance and fidelity. That means consumers will have more realistic experiences.
“We made many of our Vive demos using Unity and continue to use it today in VR development”, said Gabe Newell, cofounder and managing director of Valve, in a statement. “Through that process, and in working with VR developers, we found some opportunities to make Unity even more robust and powerful for us, and we really want to share those benefits with all VR content creators.”
The companies made the announcement at the Unity-hosted AR/VR Vision Summit which takes place in Hollywood today. Valve will be delivering talks at the summit, and it will give a HTC Vive Pre to every developer attending the show. That’s an estimated 1,200 units.
“Valve and Unity are both dedicated to creating the highest quality VR experiences possible,” said John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity Technologies, in a statement. “That means giving developers every possible chance to succeed, and our collaboration with Valve is designed to do just that.”