In an interesting announcement today which sees Valve’s Steam platform becoming increasingly competitive toward video distribution platforms like Amazon Video, Lionsgate will be making more than 100 films available for purchase through the platform, and you’ll be able to watch them in VR.

It might not be Facebook, but Valve’s 125 million users are certainly an appealing chunk of potential customers. While Steam has mostly focused on being the premiere game distribution platform for PC, the it has just taken a big step into the video distribution space.

In a joint announcement today, Valve and Lionsgate said they’re making more than 100 feature films available on Steam. The films will be viewable across all Steam-supported platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, and SteamOS) including in VR through SteamVR.


For most people this will mean viewing through the HTC Vive, but you can also use the Oculus Rift with SteamVR.

The films, which include many of Lionsgate’s most recent blockbusters, are offered as 48-hour rentals which you can start any time within 30 days of purchase. Each film has a familiar Steam store page with videos, screenshots, and reviews.

While the films aren’t ‘VR films’, you will be able to watch them on a virtual big screen, presumably inside of SteamVR’s ‘Desktop Theater Mode’ which also lets you play any game from your Steam library in VR. We’d be surprised if Valve wasn’t already looking ahead to the distribution of actual VR films as well.

Here’s look inside the Desktop Theater Mode playing a flat Steam game on the big screen:

Oculus has a similar arrangement with Lionsgate, offering a number of its films on Oculus 360 Video through the Rift and Gear VR.

Newsletter graphic

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. More information.

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."
  • stevens

    > While the films aren’t ‘VR films’…

    They also aren’t 3D films, right?

    • benz145

      Doesn’t appear so at this point. Oculus has support for 3D films through their 360 Videos app on Rift and Gear VR, though there seems to be only one major film (The Martian) that’s available in 3D at this point.

    • Raphael

      Virtual desktop or vorpx. Virtual desktop can play 180 or 360 vr movies in 3d and vorpx can play regular 3d movies on its virtual theater.

      Virtual desktop can also stream vr videos in 3d direct from YouTube.

  • saluk

    Maybe worth it if they are 3d. Otherwise, it’s going to be much better to watch them on the big screen HD tv that I can share with friends.

  • Rayza

    Not sure i see much point if they aren’t even 3D

    • Malkmus

      The point is to feel like you’re watching it on a movie theater sized screen in your home. People don’t go to the movies just for 3D content, right?

      • Rayza

        Personally i’ve only been to the cinema to see 3D movies in the last 5 years, but even if it wasn’t 3D surely just sitting near your tv is the same as sitting far away from a cinema screen. Don’t get me wrong i’ll definitely check it out when my Vive arrives but i imagine it’s nothing more than a novelty especially when it’s lower resolution than my tv or monitor.

        • Malkmus

          Personally, I don’t have any use for it because I already have a projector at home, but people have been using Virtual Desktop to watch movies in a virtual movie theater so I think there’s some value there.

        • Raphael

          Steam theater in its current state is a novelty. Vorpx is amazing for playing games on its virtual theater or watching movies. I think the fact that it allows you to use vlc or mpc may help but also the image processing ralf uses.

      • Raphael

        Vorpx let’s you watch 3d movies and play games in a much better looking virtual theater with better image quality. Playing steam games in their virtual theater is awful. The games are so blurry. With vorpx they look razer sharp.

        I think it’s just a shame there isn’t a demo version so people can try vorpx first.

        • The blurryness is inherent to the displays in the headset. I don’t see how a different product would be able to display something better on the same technical limitations.

          • Raphael

            As i said… The game is too blurry to play on steam theater and crystal clear on vorpx so how can that be the lenses in the headset? Vorpx uses something ralf calls crystal image sharpening which he introduced on version 9. If you disable it the image is considerably more blurred.

            With steam theater you can clearly see the virtual room looks sharp but it’s the virtual screen that looks very soft.

            I hope valve improve it because at this time it’s vastly inferior to vorpx.

          • If you tried both, fair enough. I guess the Steam Theater scaling/rendering sucks then. Not a technical limitation.

          • Raphael

            The question is whether valve know it sucks or if it’s gonna stay that way. It’s still beta but with valve it can take years. Ultimately it’s not too much of a problem because vorpx will work with vive as well soon. I think i may be a vive owner before long.

      • Foreign Devil

        It would be a theatre sized screen with sub HD resolution. . which nobody would want these days. . the only thing that can set apart VR film viewing is the perfectly isolated screen for each eye to give great 3D viewing. Better than theatre 3D.

        • Raphael

          While i can understand how you make that assumption about sub standard quality… It’s actually very impressive when done right. I personally can’t stand watching low res videos anymore. That’s a very different experience to playing a HD mkv video on a virtual theater in vorpx. Steam theater doesn’t seem to have the qualityb yet.

  • Sam Illingworth

    Just thinking about the virtual room you’re in when using Desktop Theatre: obviously we’d all like a range of options; different decor, interior/exterior, sci-fI/fantasy, etc, but how to choose between them? A menu? Boring! How about doors, where you use a combination of portals and real walking to move between rooms? Walk to the door, open it, step through and you’re transported, with the software automatically orientating your avatar so that the positions of your real self and real couch match that of the virtual self and virtual couch.

  • Foreign Devil

    Nothing special unless they are 3D films, which are optimal for VR.

  • 100? I see 11.