Valve released an update to SteamVR this week that unexpectedly added new content to SteamVR Home.

Valve has long been making small but helpful updates to SteamVR, but especially in the last year there hasn’t been a particularly clear signal that the company was putting much work into the platform.

That’s why it was surprising to see that with the public launch of the SteamVR 1.22 update this week, the company added a surprise—a brand new photogrammetry environment for SteamVR Home, its first-party VR social space.

The new environment is a capture of a portion of the village of Fornalutx in Mallorca, which resides in the Western Mediterranean Sea.

SteamVR users can download the new environment by subscribing to it in the Steam Workshop. Once downloaded, it will become available as a new place you and friends can visit in SteamVR Home.

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like this slice of new content means that Valve has renewed motivation to work on its VR platform. As explained in the patch notes, the photos were originally captured back in October 2019—shortly after the release of the company’s Index headset. Given what we know about Valve’s unique corporate structure, it seems likely the timing of this release merely coincided with an individual at the company digging up the old photos and processing them as something of a side project.

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So, nice to have a cool new scan to explore, but we don’t think it means Valve is suddenly going to be cranking out big new updates for SteamVR.

The company has continued to work on SteamVR, albeit slowly. A handful of updates have landed over the last year or so that have made improvements to the SteamVR dashboard, added new settings for power users, and made the platform play nicer with Quest headsets using Oculus Link.

Photo by Road to VR

Granted, still long overdue is a SteamVR native version of core Steam features like friends list, voice chats, a fully functional store and library, achievements, and more. SteamVR for a long time has fallen back to the Steam ‘Big Picture’ interface that’s designed for large displays. Unfortunately in VR that interface runs very clunkily and was clearly designed for a different input modality.

Beyond adding the new SteamVR Home environment, the SteamVR 1.22 update also brought with it a bunch of bug fixes and technical improvements that were previously released in beta versions of the software; you can see the full patch notes here.

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  • Cless

    This is just an excuse for the team to get a nice vacation in the Mediterranean island of Mallorca. Its doesn’t rank on the world’s top touristic destinations for no reason! hahaha

    • Dylan

      I think actually, having seen a few of these, that a particular dev is fond of photogrammetry and posts them whenever they take a vacation. We used to get one a year but covid may have kept that off :)

      • Cless

        Damn, really? That is actually kind of hilarious, I was 100%joking! Hahaha

  • XRC

    “Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like this slice of
    new content means that Valve has renewed motivation to work on its VR platform”.

    Had a strange dream earlier this year, found myself in a meeting with some veteran hardware devs.

    Like all dreams, memories are somewhat vague; passion for VR was evident, but for global supply chain problems, and focus on that little ‘deck

    • d0x360

      Valves gonna need to start updating the hardware on a more rapid basis if they want the deck to really succeed. Their competition is releasing hardware that’s easily twice as powerful that more than makes up for the optimization work valve put so much time into

  • gothicvillas

    Aren’t they working secretly on Valve Deckard?

    • Ookami

      They likely are, to some capacity. It’s not as close to a release/reveal as many thought though, as some of the leaks turned out to be about the Steam Deck. I’m thinking the best we can hope for is a reveal at the end of next year, but it is Valve so we’ll never know.

  • brandon9271

    Steam VR works and I don’t really care if they add anything at the moment.. they can work on Steam Deck for a while. :)

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Still think the library is a big mess, when I want to see what a game is, I always have to go to ‘manage game’ and there ‘store page’, which I think is ridiculous.

    But I do love the photogrammetry enviroments of the SteamVR Home, I always forget those are also available. Some are really great.

    • d0x360

      Why? Just use the library filter to show you only vr games.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        No, I meant with the game itself. Maybe you only have a few VR games, but I really have hundreds of them by now, next to the regular games which are in the thousands. It’s always a big pain in the but having to go to the storepage to see what the game is, the game landingpage should be more like the storepage with added stuff you have with the current landingpage. And with VR it’s even worse, as you have to click more times to get to the store page.

        • Ookami

          Steam has the best library system for PC gaming I’ve used (GoG is ok, Epic is just really bad), but it does get harder to use the more games you have. I can see how it would be a huge pain to use if you have 1000s of games.

          Maybe if you filter by Ready To Play, that might help?

          • Andrew Jakobs

            It hasn’t got anything to do with gamelist, ut’s the awful landingpage of the game which lacks all the info about the game itself, so you’re forced to go to the shoppage to see what game it is, and with VR it’s even worse, you gave to first click on manage game before you can go to the shoppage. It’s just really crap ui design.

          • Ookami

            Ah, I see.

  • I mean it does the job, at least for me.

  • d0x360

    These days quest owners don’t bother with using the official way to link. You get waaaay better performance using an app on oculus called virtual desktop. It essentially bypasses the oculus runtime and gives you like a 10% free performance bump… Well it’s $20 so not free but you understand what I mean