Earlier this month Valve changed the longstanding format for displaying which VR headsets are supported on a game’s Steam Store page. The company says the change was made to ‘keep up with the growing VR market’.

Earlier this month some folks were alarmed to see that the ‘VR Support’ section on the right side of a game’s Steam store page—which showed the headsets and playspaces a game supported—had been removed, seemingly leaving only ‘Tracked Motion Controller Support’ to indicate that an app supported VR.

As Valve tells Road to VR, however, the information was not removed but merely reorganized and streamlined—and it seems it may have taken a bit for the changes to correctly proliferate across store pages.

“We decided to organize things a bit differently, as we found the old system wasn’t keeping up very well with the growing VR market,” a Valve spokesperson tells us. “You can now find this info in System Requirements. We also added flags for VR Only, VR Supported, and tracked motion controllers to the Features section. The changes are also aimed at giving developers more control and flexibility.”

So now instead of a game listing all supported headsets and/or VR platforms on the right side of the page, developers can choose to show ‘VR Only’ or ‘VR Supported’. Meanwhile, further down in the System Requirements section, developers can additionally specify which headsets or playspaces are supported under the ‘VR Support’ prefix.

Looking at several examples shows how this works in practice.

Half-Life: Alyx, for instance, lists ‘VR Only’ and ‘Tracked Controller Support’ on the right side of the page (and still prominently includes a notice that the game requires a VR headset). In its System Requirements we see ‘VR Support: SteamVR’, indicating that the game affirms support for all SteamVR headsets.

Dirt Rally 2 uses ‘VR Supported’ on the right side of the page, and under System Requirements we see ‘VR Support: SteamVR or Oculus PC’ (indicating that the game supports both the SteamVR and native Oculus PC runtimes). Notably the game does not list ‘Tracked Controller Support’ on the right side, meaning players cannot use VR controllers with the game but must use another input like keyboard or traditional controller instead.

While we don’t have any inside knowledge as to exactly why Valve decided to change this longstanding system, the reasons they gave do make sense from the outside. The previous system confusingly listed some specific headsets (ie: ‘Valve Index’, ‘Oculus Rift’ and ‘HTC Vive’) lumped right alongside a whole platform of headsets (ie: ‘Windows Mixed Reality’)—while ignoring more modern headsets like those from Pico or Pimax. Making this change streamlines things for Valve who would otherwise have to track and add all new SteamVR headsets as they come to market.

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And further, the distinction between ‘Standing’ and ‘Room-scale’ playspace sizes has become much less important over the years; very few games require a room-scale space, even though most technically support it. That left the previous ‘Play Area’ section of the store page as something of a needless remnant (except for games that only support ‘Seated’ play).

That said, there’s no doubt the change feels like it’s coming out of nowhere. And with Valve’s minimal apparent interest in VR in the last few years, it raises questions as to ‘why now?’

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Bob

    New Valve VR hardware announcement in 2023 would be very welcome because at this rate the Valve Index will continue to be Valve’s one-and-done headset.

    1440 x 1600, double-stacked fresnel lenses from 2019 until the end of time at the fixed price of $949 using an obsolete satellites system (yes they provide accurate tracking in a market dominated by “headset” based tracking which is near or on-par).

    Fun fact: If you’re purchasing a Valve Index package now, you’re either in for a rude awakening in 2023 or this will be your first and last Valve produced VR HMD for the rest of your entire lives.

    • Will Cho

      One word, Deckard. But prolly not till 2024.

      • 3872Orcs

        Hopefully we see some kind of Decard announcement or hardware leak in 2023 (remember the leaked Index pictures?) I desperately need to replace my Index due to stick drifting and the unbearable cable, I need wireless this time around! And preferable eye tracking included in the headset.

    • Paul Bellino

      Yoo Bob Get A Life. Valve Fan Boy Here. Valve was and is ahead of its time. They have and will Alway push the boundaries of Technology and what is possible with it. If you are to stupid to see that, Its your Problem buddy. https://media0.giphy.com/media/6GQm8hBpvO1kA/giphy-downsized-medium.gif

    • XRC

      Bought another Index in January (was a launch day owner) after a meeting with some legendary hardware devs.

      my 3080Ti struggles to drive Index on all settings in many applications, but a big performance jump from 2080Ti used with launch headset.

      Steam hardware survey shows these top tier cards do not represent what majority of users have installed, it’s debatable, even 4090 users have inadequate overhead for VP2 and 8K

      No complaints about display clarity, there’s a bit more to it than comparing panel resolution, had a Vive Pro 2, went back to Index;)

      • brandon9271

        i just want better optics! give me a Quest 2 with pancake lenses and the controllers from Quest Pro.. I’ll be content for now! Next step would be a bump in FOV and foveated rendering to reduce GPU demand.

      • Runesr2

        Exactly, first with the RTX 3090 I can start to fully take advantage of the Index in demanding games – like Hubris. But only in 90 Hz, 144 Hz in high res will demand something faster than RTX 3090. People claiming Index is outdated have no clue what they are talking about.

  • ViRGiN

    that famous valve’s attention to details in VR

  • Ad

    These actually made no sense. And headsets like Pimax aren’t mentioned because they’re not supported. I feel like someone on the store team at Valve doesn’t understand what OpenXR is and thought all VR software now supports all headsets. Ben is being too kind, this makes the store a lot worse (like VR games that use the gamepad commit what has to be a cardinal sin, giving you information a central piece of information only by omission).

  • Jonathan Winters III

    “Valve’s minimal interest in VR”. Lol, I guess the Index, as well as the constantly updated SteamVR (the largest VR game store) are nothingburgers to you?

    • ViRGiN

      LMAO what a gabedicksucker

      • Ookami

        Oh, the irony

    • brandon9271

      I’ve blocked Virgin 3 or 4 times.. does he keep creating more accounts? he’s obsessed. Dude, GET A HOBBY

      • Ookami

        I think it’s just Disqus being a buggy platform. Blocking only seems to take affect 70% of the time

  • I see them very focused on the Steamdeck, I think they are not caring much about VR…

    • ViRGiN

      They never did and never will.

    • Ookami

      I think it’s nigh-on impossible to tell what Valve cares about. For ages everyone just thought Valve didn’t care about making games anymore, or maybe they lost all their talent. Then Half Life Alyx came out, and boy oh boy they have not lost their talent. Soon after we got The Final Hours of HLA, and we learned that they’ve been constantly making games the entire time. Too many projects just lost traction (a major side-effect of Valve’s organic unorganized structure) or even died due to Source 2 not being ready.

      According to leaks/data-mines, which can easily be wrong, they are currently developing two major games, Citadal/Neon Prime, which used to be a VR VS flatscreen asymmetrical game, but apparently no longer has a VR mode; and the successor to Half LIfe Alyx (which I want play more than actual Half Life 3). They are definitely working on VR hardware at some level, but we can’t really tell how focused they are on it.

  • NL_VR

    i se agressive Quest shills in the comments