Valve this week announced that it has dropped support for SteamVR on MacOS to focus on Windows and Linux versions.

For many, I imagine the reaction to this news will be “wait, SteamVR supported MacOS?”

Indeed, though few VR games were actually ported to the platform, modern SteamVR support came to MacOS back in 2017 when Apple finally embraced VR.

While the company was marketing its latest series of computers at the time as being ‘VR ready’, that interest quickly faded. Having worked with Valve for nearly a year to optimized SteamVR on MacOS, by 2019 Apple had essentially gone silent on VR once again.

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For Valve’s part, the company had continually updated SteamVR alongside Windows and Linux versions. Simply adding MacOS support to SteamVR didn’t mean existing SteamVR content would suddenly work on MacOS, developers would still need to spend plenty of time porting their games to the OS. With the vast majority of the VR audience (and gamers in general) on Windows, it seems few developers thought it would be worth their time to do so; less than two dozen SteamVR games offer support for MacOS now three years after support landed.

This week Valve quietly announced that it has ended support for SteamVR on MacOS, “so that our team can focus on Windows and Linux.” The company advised that legacy builds will remain, and that developers and users can opt into the SteamVR [MacOS] beta branch via Steam to continue to use those builds.

SteamVR was the only major VR platform to support MacOS since early Oculus development kits; since then Oculus has steered clear of MacOS.

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  • mfx

    That’s Apple fault…

    They relied on opensource and standards shoulders to not die, and now they are in their best shape, they close their ecosystem with proprietary technologies on every level. That’s like spitting at the face of the person who rescued you.

    Nice that Valve stop losing their time with them.
    Anyway, who on earth was choosing a mac to play VR ?

    PS: not a hater here, just the truth, I even have a macbook.

    • You really should hate them. They introduced predatory business practices to the blossoming computer industry. They ARE the reason you click on contracts that are 12 pages long and completely indecipherable They’ve been the leader in removing user controls, legally blocking repairs, creating electronics with expiration dates, robbing startup companies, patent trolling, wasteful packaging, worker exploitation, and the word “Magical” as a technically description! They REALLY look down on their own users as a bunch of children. And this daddy beats his children! (but he only does it because he loves them…)

      • NooYawker

        It’s actually MS that introduced predatory business practices. They purchased and killed the competition, purposely crippled their competitors software on windows, cut throat contracts that pushed out any competitors, outright stealing IP’s and crushing everyone in court, masterminded the “full time part time worker” that made up to 40% of their workforce. Jobs was an asshole but Gates was downright evil.

        • Jistuce

          I think there’s room for two evils.

          Also, if we are complaining about theft of IP, let’s not forget that the Macintosh interface was a shameless ripoff of the Xerox Star interface.
          That Apple had the gall to then sue everybody and their dog who implemented a windowing system for ripping off the Macintosh interface when the Macintosh interface itself was a ripoff is just precious.

          • NooYawker

            This story is always so misconstrued. Jobs got a tour of PARC and he saw a raw GUI. The person who created it actually gave him the source code. And the GUI PARC had running and what Apple released was worlds apart.
            The difference between a concept, working model and a viable commercial product release are extreme.
            I actually used Macs in the 90’s. People actually told me, Apple is for sissies because it’s too easy to use. Then windows 95 was release and suddenly easy to use was cool and fun.
            Bottom line, being a fanboy is just stupid, really really stupid. OS fanboy, phone fanboy, console fanboy, how silly can one be?

          • Jistuce

            Indeed, QD-DOS, which MS purchased to make MS-DOS, was “heavily inspired” by CP/M. And CP/M itself was heavily inspired by DEC’s operating systems for the PDPs. That doesn’t mean Apple didn’t shamelessly copy Star, just that they weren’t alone.

            Also, PARC is a lab, not a computer. Alto is a computer developed by the PARC, and commercialized as the Star.
            Aside from the GUI, Xerox’s PARC lab also invented the mouse, ethernet, copy and paste operations… really, every aspect of modern computing.

            Alsoalso, I don’t recall anyone complaining about Macs being too easy to use back in the day, particularly as most systems in the early 90s came with Windows 3. There were a lot of complaints about Macs, some more valid than others.

        • David Dahlstrom

          Really, they are just two different operating models (evil aside for the moment). Apple was the computer for the “rest”. Since I wasn’t in the “rest” category but in the “nerd” category, I never had a use for the walled-garden. But for the non-computer folks who couldn’t deal with config.sys and autoexec.bat editing and comprehension, It’s hard to say that the MAC didn’t fill a niche. Today, of course, Linux is the true “nerds” OS, with Apple still a walled garden and Microsoft with one foot in and one foot out of the garden. And this seems to be the natural state of things from which one can pick which ever works for them. For me, the puff-pads and phones are Apples because my wife uses them, the PC is Windows for front-end content creation, business and entertainment; and all my backend stuff is Linux. And no, I wouldn’t want them all from one vendor no matter how pure.

          • James Cobalt

            Unless you’re the type who likes to tinker with your OS source code, OS X isn’t much more of a walled garden than Linux. It’s just all the extra stuff they put on top of BSD that is walled. I switched to OS X for work since it provided a nix type OS with significantly better applications & ease of use on the GUI level than Linux distros at the time. I think that’s why so many in web development moved to OS X from Windows, rather than to some flavor of Linux.

            Apple originally attracted the designers/creatives with vastly superior displays, more accurate font rendering, professional audio and imaging tools, etc. They attracted students with aggressive educational outreach programs and discounts. They attracted the non-technical with free computer training and simple “it just works” software suites. And they attracted the nerds by switching to BSD. They were kind of genius.

            But while Microsoft still doesn’t know how to handle color profiles and font rendering, we now have Windows Subsystem for Linux, and Avid & Adobe have ported once Mac-exclusive professional tools to Windows. Linux now has Steam and can run many Windows programs through WINE, and many distros are as easy for laypeople as OS X is. Everyone offers competitive educational programs and across the board software is more intuitive than it was 15 years ago.

            It feels like we’re far on the path to the point where it doesn’t really matter what OS you use outside reliance on OS-exclusive features like Xbox app on Windows or Messages on OS X; in another 15 years none of these will matter. We’ll be arguing over which remote XR service provider is best, while everything that seems to matter now will happen in any standards-compliant web browser.

          • Your comment about attracting the designers/creatives was interesting.

            Whilst studying industrial design at college and university it was using Apple Macs, this is early to mid 90’s.

            I’ve never owned or used any Apple devices since, but always appreciated their industrial design and GUI.

          • NooYawker

            You know many NASA scientists use Apple because it actually is a very powerful OS. Literally rocket scientists use it. It’s basically Linux but with a polished OS running on top. The Linux distros are fine but they’re not nearly as functional as MacOS.

          • Jistuce

            OSX is actually a hacked-up version of FreeBSD, not Linux. Different Unix descendant.

          • JB1968

            Thats why NASA is unable to even reach ISS for many years.

      • sebrk

        Jesus… there is still a reason why professionals and academica use Mac. Just stop this shitposting.

  • Thank goodness! Let’s hope this is the first of MANY companies that stop playing ball with that evil corporation. Google should pull up stakes next.

    • kontis

      I strongly dislike their closed garden approach, but Google is worse. Their approach to Android isn’t that much more open (from the end-user’s perspective). The friction of sideloading and the de facto monopoly of Google Play means it’s light years behind (purposefully) Windows PC when it comes to embracing open software market. Google is basically pretending to be open with android ecosystem.

      The reason Google is far worse than Apple is because Apple doesn’t monetize data and privacy that much but it’s the main source of income for Google and Facebook. Apple makes most of its money through the most traditional and honest way – by selling goods they produce. They also do some nasty crap like the Siri voice recording debacle, but it’s not even 1% of the data Google monetizes.

  • NooYawker

    Mac isn’t for gaming.

    • Thinker

      Mac isn’t good for anything, except to burn a hole in your wallet.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Even as a Mac hater I disagree with that, they are perfectly fine for multimedia design, even though Windows computers are just as capable of doing that today (back in the day it was a different matter, yeah it worked but had many problems which weren’t on the Mac, but that was more due the Mac only having ‘one’ configuration to worry about, while Windows had and still has an infinitiy of configurations to work on).

      • sebrk

        All professionals and academica says otherwise. But of course you know whats right for everyone.

  • guest

    Wait, SteamVR supported Linux? I only see about a dozen out there and a third of them are Serious Sam’s. Isn’t Android just another Linux distro?

  • guest

    wait, SteamVR supported Linux? I only see about a dozen out there and a third of them are Serious Sam’s. Isn’t Android just a linux distro?

    • kuhpunkt

      What?

    • Andrew Jakobs

      SteamVR supported Linux, that’s mostly in part due to at Valve they are highly active Linux supportes, and that’s why they keep on supporting Linux, even though the amount of Linux users at Steam are even far less than 1% whereas MacOS is even at 3,8% (but most Mac’s don’t have the hardware to drive a headset).
      It’s the gamesupport that’s a different matter, there aren’t that many NATIVE linux games (and IMHO it’s mostly to do with the so many different amounts of Linux distro’s which aren’t all compatible).

      • morfaine

        Valve started serious Linux support when Microsoft was looking like they were going to go all Apple Store and lock down all third party software releases with Window 8. They needed a viable alternative in case Microsoft started micromanaging what could and couldn’t be released and taking a cut from all the software sales on Windows. Linux support is purely a strategic move against Microsoft.

        • Was Steam machine OS a Linux build? This seemed to be part of valve’s insurance policy against Microsoft aggressive OS lockdown moves…

          • morfaine

            Yes. General consumers weren’t going to build Linux PCs to use Valves Linux based SteamOS so Valve had to build a hardware solution to make it easy for them.

            Given Microsoft backed off their store plans and software lockdown there’s no consumer demand for another platform so the Steam Machines were shelved. I think It’s a stalemate at the moment. Microsoft would lose a lot of mindshare if they lost the majority of gamers to another OS.

  • Dan Lokemoen

    Dexter got cancelled?

  • That’s a pity. Many professionals use Mac… and many professionals would benefit from VR

    • Andrew Jakobs

      You can still use SteamVR in it’s current state for quite a while. But as a developer I agree with not supporting MacOS in this regard, there are just too few people using it to spend effort on getting it running on MacOS even though engines like UnrealEngine4 support it, especially VR which requires a decent GPU which is not available on many Mac’s out there at this point. As a developer who doesn’t own a Mac and does not have a large budget, I’d rather spend the money in buying me some extra different headsets than in buying me some different Macs to test it. Most people I know that have MacOS have a Mac-mini or a Macbook, but none have a machine capable of running VR for even the original Rift or Vive..

    • RockstarRepublic

      Many professionals have also switched over to PC, precisely because the current Mac is not ideal for the work they do. For VR itself, there are plenty of stand alone options and last I heard Apple is working on their own headset, which is another reason SteamVR might not want to keep up with the Mac compatibility.

  • JB1968

    Good move. The crappy overpriced Mac hardware is not usable for VR anyway so why loose time to support tha.