Valve has announced a new ‘Site Licensing’ model which allows businesses interested in providing VR experiences to customers as an out of home experience. It seems the company have their sights on SteamVR powering a renaissance in VR-enabled Cybercafés.

Lets face it, VR is still expensive pretty much any way you slice it. And whilst the affordability of immersive technology is improving rapidly, other barriers to enjoying premium VR experiences at home – such as having the space to enjoy room-scale – are still very much an issue.

The next best thing to having your own VR setup? Well, Valve seems to think that you might instead want to pop down the road to your local Cybercafé to get your VR on instead. To that end, the company have just introduced a new initiative which is geared towards making it much easier to give commercial operations the ability to entertain punters in VR on site via Steam and SteamVR.

HTC Vive Review: A Mesmerising VR Experience, if You Have the Space

The Site Licensing Program for Steam allows any operation which intends to offer Steam based experiences, including of course HTC Vive VR titles, to visitors. Those operations could be anything from a museum to an arcade, pop-up store, cybercafé or as Valve puts it “any other place you can think of.” The new license allows the proprietor of said operation to obtain (at a cost) commercial subscription subscriptions to content offered via Steam and also access a growing list of free-to-play titles which Valve are making available via their Free Site Subscriptions list – which already includes a number of VR titles such as Valve’s The Lab and Portal Stories: VR.

This all of course ties in very nicely with HTC’s recent investment in public VR entertainment spaces and their announcement of a similar initiative, also aimed at providing VR experiences at what they call “offline experience centers” via their own content portal platform Viveport. The move was announced at the joint Developer Forum of Alibaba Cloud’s annual Computing Conference in October and follows HTC’s push towards opening 100s of VR café in China next year.

HTC to Roll Out Hundreds of Official 'Vive VR Cafes' in China Next Year

It’s an interesting move from both parties, one that should further help allow those not yet able to afford the investment in space or money to own a VR system of their own to get to grips with immersive technology. As we’ve written many times before, VR has to be experienced to be fully understood, and should the idea of out of home VR businesses take off, that barrier of entry for VR experiences might just come down a notch or two.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • Ian Shook

    This interests me.

  • VR Zone BKK

    Hello, we are currently looking for partners and investors to open a VR Centre in BKK, the business plan and the investor prenstention are available upon request (under NDA).

    We have already found the location site and we are disscusing with some hardware companies for sponsoring.

    If you are interested in this project and would like to buy company shares, you can mail me over

    Thanks and best regards,
    VR Zone BKK

  • Armando Tavares

    And this is pretty much what I’ve been saying all along: «Lets face it, VR is still expensive pretty much any way you slice it. »

    The VR Cybercafé model will have a (very) short lifespan as newer, cheaper hardware arrives at the consumer market and consumers start getting their own.

    Microsoft’s partnership with ACER, HP, ASUS, LENOVO and DELL has the potential to turn VR, as a hardware driven business, on it’s head.

    Microsoft already announced a HUGE price drop in VR devices (starting at 299$). If (and this is wishful thinking because they didn’t made any promises in this regard) Microsoft manages to also bring down the minimum PC requirements needed to drive those devices, to current 150$ (ish) graphics card market then they will take the market away from OCULUS/VIVE in a heart-beat and kill any related side business that relies in any of those devices (as VR Cybercafes).

    Anyway, it’s nice to see Oculus and Vive coming up with new ideas to bring the VR experience to the masses.

    • Shawn Blais Skinner

      Not really, since these devices don’t offer hand tracking of any sort, which really limits their potential impact on the market.

      • VR Zone BKK

        Actually it’s not the hand tracking (leap motion) which can be tracked by a separate leapmotion controller but it’s more the motion tracking system itself like the Lighthouse (Laser tracking system from Htc/Valve) or the Constellation (LED tracking system from Oculus). I agree with you, unless they develop their own motion tracking system, I don’t think there would be competiton here.

      • RodioR

        Except that the “fancy” hardware, like force feedback or gloves, will be still expensive, while sorely needed at the same time. Therefore, Location Based VR will still have an important role of delivering those “non-consumer-available” technologies to consumers.

        Don’t forget – headset + controllers are just the beginning.

        Also, neither PC nor headsets can drop to the price where price won’t be an issue anymore. It is cheaper to spend $20 / month than buy yourself a VR (PS VR with PS4 ca. $800).

        Just look at China – they have ENORMOUS VR Arcade business there!

  • Kevin Williams

    Why VR arcades could be virtual reality’s salvation