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Valve already dominates the world of PC gaming software. In 2015, it will try to push forward its hardware initiatives.
The gaming company revealed today that it will show up at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco next week with a number of new products. These include the console-like Steam Machines (Linux-based PCs for gaming), the final Steam Controller, and new living room devices. Most interestingly, Valve is also promising to show off a previously unannounced Steam VR hardware system — taking on Oculus VR, Samsung, and Sony and their projects.
Steam VR isn’t Valve’s first foray in virtual reality. The company has long experimented with the technology. Some of Valve’s top VR technologists actually developed portions of the display technology that powers the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, which is widely recognized by gamers and developers as the leader in this space.
But Valve has long denied any intention to get into consumer VR. That led its top VR mind, Michael Abrash, to leave Valve to join Oculus as its chief scientist. But that still left the Steam company with a team of around 20 engineers working on VR. And that team is potentially behind the announcement that the company has an all-new system that it wants to show off to developers and publishers.
The Steam company likely isn’t working on VR alone. Valve is part of gaming-hardware company Razer’s Open-Source Virtual Reality for Gaming consortium. That organization will also have a presence at GDC.
Valve is scheduling appointments with game makers who wish to experience the new technology. GDC attendees can sign up for a timeslot by going to steampowered.com/universe.
Virtual reality will have a large presence at GDC beyond even Valve and Oculus. Disney is planning a panel where it will talk about using the tech to expand its theme parks. Ryse: Son of Rome developer Crytek will also have a panel where it talks about its efforts in VR.
The company is also celebrating the 13th anniversary of what it is best known for: Steam. Valve announced Steam at GDC in 2002, and it has since become the go-to resource for PC and Mac gamers looking for digital games. The company claims it now has more than 4,500 games and 400 million gamer-created items contributed by Steam community members.
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