Valve today confirmed the existence of SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode which will effectively allow players to play any game from their Steam library inside of VR on big virtual display.
For the best VR experience, games need to be designed from the ground up for virtual reality. Simply slapping some VR rendering onto a traditional FPS is going to make for a rather uncomfortable experience, as desktop games do things that are big no-nos for VR, like taking control of the camera during cutscenes, and relying heavily on mouse-based yaw control.
But there’s a happy medium for players who want to play their library of non-VR games in Steam, and that’s SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode.
Valve today confirmed that SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode is in early beta and that the company would show it off for the first time at GDC 2016 next week. The mode is a bridge that allows games not made for VR to be played inside a virtual environment in a sort of virtual home theater with a huge display. The company says SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode will support the HTC Vive “and others,” which we presume to mean ‘any headset that SteamVR supports’ which is currently the Vive and Oculus Rift.
Although the HTC Vive and SteamVR experience are designed for ‘room-scale’ play, we expect users to make use of the new functionality in a seated mode, playing with a keyboard and mouse or controller. Thankfully the platform also supports a seated mode which Valve says will work just as well as room-scale play.
Valve actually talked about SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode years ago, back even before the HTC Vive, when they made their first attempts at translation the Steam experience into VR. It seems playing normal games in the SteamVR environment took a back seat until the rest of the experience was honed for VR.
Now that it’s here though, we hope the company doesn’t stop at simply slapping you in a home-theater space and calling it done, as there’s much more exciting functionality to be had, like gaming together with a friend on the same virtual couch, complete with voice chat, or being playing multiplayer matches of games in the virtual space as your entire team and/or adversaries.