Valve is finally making a new game, but it might not be what you’re expecting.
The company announced The Lab today, which it is calling a complication of virtual reality experiences. It is set in the same universe as its popular Portal games, taking place in the fictional Aperture Labs. The Portal series has together sold over 8 million copies, and its oddball humor has spawned Internet memes and silly songs across the Internet. That consumer goodwill can transfer over to the blooming virtual and augmented reality market, which investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts will grow into a $110 billion business by 2020.
Valve is already investing heavily in this new market with StreamVR and the HTC Vive, a PC headset that ships on April 1 for $800. It’s competitor, the Oculus Rift, releases on March 28 for $600. Other companies have been experimenting with VR and AR, including Epic (which is working on a VR shooter, Bullet Train) and Microsoft (which has Rare working on an AR platformer with the Conker character). Not all VR experiments are games, though, as we saw last week with Samsung’s plan to create VR roller-coaster experiences.
Valve notes that The Lab will be free on Steam, its digital games store, this spring. It plans on showing The Lab at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco next week.