Although Valve is now prompting Rift users to install SteamVR, there’s more steps to actually get the Oculus Rift working with Steam. In a few quick steps you can use your Oculus Rift to play Steam and SteamVR games. Our quick guide will show you how.

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See Also: Oculus Rift Review – Prologue to a New Reality

Valve wants Steam and SteamVR to be the VR content destination of all VR headsets. Although Valve is working closely with HTC to promote the Vive as the flagship headset for the platform, Steam VR also supports the consumer Oculus Rift and even the older Rift DK2 development kit.

How to Play SteamVR Games on Oculus Rift in 4 Steps

1. Make Sure Your Rift is Installed

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The first step to getting your Oculus Rift working with SteamVR is actually to make sure your Rift is installed and working correctly. If you haven’t already, go here to download the Oculus Home setup which will walk you through installing your consumer Rift (you’ll also want to use this to install Oculus Home even if you’re using the Rift DK2). Once installed, check to make sure you can launch into the Oculus Home VR environment with no issues.

2. Enable Unknown Sources

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Take your headset off and turn your attention to the Oculus desktop app. At the top right, click the gear icon to access Settings. On the left side menu, click General then tick the Unknown Sources switch, followed by the Allow button. Do not close the Oculus desktop app.

3. Install SteamVR

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Launch Steam (install it from here if you haven’t already). If you aren’t automatically prompted with a pop-up to install SteamVR, go to Library > Tools and install SteamVR from the list.

4. Launch SteamVR

launch-steamvr-buttonOnce SteamVR is installed, you’ll see a VR icon at the top right of the Steam window (near the minimize and maximize buttons). Click this to launch SteamVR. Your Rift should now be detected and you should be able to put on your headset and see the VR version of SteamVR. (Note: The Oculus desktop app will likely need to be running in the background.) The Back button on the Xbox One controller (included with the consumer Oculus Rift) will open the SteamVR menu when you have the headset on.

Find SteamVR Games for the Oculus Rift

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Now you’ve got your Oculus Rift working with SteamVR, but you need to know which games support the Rift specifically. Games on SteamVR are designed with different headsets, inputs, and play areas (how much room you have) in mind.

Steam Search allows you to sort by each of these factors to find SteamVR games that work with your setup (expand the ‘Narrow by VR support’ option on the right).

The typical breakdown follows:

Headset

  • HTC Vive
  • Oculus Rift

Input

  • Tracked motion controllers
  • Gamepad
  • Keyboard / Mouse

Play Area

  • Seated
  • Standing
  • Room-scale

Some games may be designed to support everything, while others may only be made for seated play with a gamepad, while yet more may only support room-scale with motion controllers. Look carefully the specific Headsets, Inputs, and Play Areas supported by each game before running off and buying everything marked with ‘VR Support’ in sight.

If you’re using a Rift right now, you’ll likely be restricted to playing SteamVR games that support the gamepad or keyboard / mouse (since Oculus hasn’t launched their Touch controllers yet) and Seated or Standing Play Areas (since you’ve only got one sensor for tracking, while wide-area 360 degree degree ‘room-scale’ gameplay requires two sensors).

Play Non-VR Steam Games in VR with Desktop Theater Mode

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If you’re a PC gamer, you’ve probably got a huge library of non-VR games and wouldn’t mind a way to bring them into VR. With SteamVR’s Desktop Theater Mode, you can play your entire Steam game library in virtual reality on a virtual big screen TV.

To do this, simply put your headset on and jump into SteamVR. Then use the menu to launch a non-VR game in your library. Launching the game this way will bring it up in Desktop Theater Mode which will allow you to play it on a virtual big screen TV in a home-theater like setting.

This feature is pretty basic for now, but we hope to see Valve update it over time with more functions (especially social!).

  • Tried this with the DK2 and an Xbox 360 controller. It worked fine for the setup and the intro demo, but then I wasn’t able to open the SteamVR menu. I got stuck on a blank grey scene with a grid, and with the DK2 camera sensor floating at it’s position.

    • Patrick Bauer

      That was my problem too, but the article states we have to use the back button on the controller. I haven’t tried yet, but that may be the solution.

      • Jim Rooney

        Yes, the back button is the answer.
        Hopefully in the future they’ll just turn the SteamVR menu on by default. Very silly oversight.

        • attcker

          I tried back button, then start to navigate dashboard, but nothing happens. just got a volume and settings bar. Is Oculus home supposed to be running in unison?

    • Legion

      Replying to a year-old post, but this problem persists. DK2+Xbox One working well with Steam, yet I can’t get rid of the damn grey camera in the middle of the screen.

  • Sean OConnor

    I’m guessing we aren’t talking about the consumer model of the rift here? SteamVR only shows HTC Vive, and not settings for anything different :/

    • benz145

      We are indeed talking about the consumer model of the Rift. SteamVR supports the Rift consumer model as well as DK2 (possibly even the DK1).

      • Sean OConnor

        Hmmmm that’s weird then. The SteamVR screenshot above looks nothing like what I’m actually seeing, and I’ve tried this on multiple machines :/ SteamVR just pops up as a tiny utility type window with no settings outside of those for the Vive. Maybe I’ll have to wait for any update. Thank you for this article anyway :)

        • CMcD

          I’m having the same issue and my consumer rift just arrived today. I don’t see any options to switch to rift it just says that it can’t find my vive headset :( but doesn’t let me switch to the rift head set

          • peter serup

            THX I LOVE YOU <3, it helped me ALOT, i even made a user on this site, just to thank you

          • Michal Wheelq

            I also did update the drivers, rebooted pc but still got vive option only

          • CMcD

            theres a little arrow icon like this > but pointing down, it’s on the pop-up window on your desktop that starts out by showing the rift head set, controllers and light boxes, you should be able to click that and see the rift option to switch to that, make sure everything has been updated and reboot… hopefully that works for you.

          • Michal Wheelq

            thanks, I just reinstalled everything and it worked :) just windows things…

  • Well I just got it working. Tried Half Life 2 lost cost. Unplayable because the image is so blurry (and no it isn’t my DK2 setup). Vorpx virtual theater gives razer sharp imagery… Even after I changed the resolution of HL2 lost coast it made no difference. The virtual room is sharp enough… it’s just the game image that’s blurry. Vorpx has nothing to worry about.

  • Craig Winston

    One very important step not mentioned here is to make sure that even if you have a DK2 or a CV1 you STILL need to configure and calibrate your seated/standing profile. I tried it with my DK2 without doing this step and some SteamVR games I found myself on the ceiling or other such weirdness. After calibrating my seated position all was well.

    One thing I did like about SteamVR is that even without the chaperone system, after you calibrate it, it shows you virtually where your center should be. It’s like a big bullseye under your feet so you can always find the center position you used when calibrating so you don’t get turned around :) Enjoy!

  • johnfarmingdale

    If you go in SteamVR and you see the Sensor and an empty room. Use the middle buttons the one on the left, it will bring up the menu. OC CV1.

    • ApolloStrong

      what??

  • You can get a ‪#‎Oculus_Rift‬ for FREE!
    http://goo.gl/Cr9HzJ

  • brad

    My Rift cv1 tracking is not working on Steam. tried raising it, restarted computer and steam several times. Any ideas would be very appreciated!