Although Valve has buddied up with HTC to create the Vive as SteamVR’s flagship headset, the company has made it clear that they want SteamVR to be headset agnostic. Now Steam is identifying Rift users and prompting them to install SteamVR.
The Oculus Rift DK2 was actually one of the first headsets to see support for SteamVR—back before Valve partnered up with HTC, a time when Oculus and Valve were collaborating closely. But after a couple of key employees jumped shipped for Oculus, which was subsequently acquired by Facebook, the close relationship between Oculus and Valve seemed to largely evaporate.
So when Valve revealed in early 2015 that it was partnering with HTC to create the Vive headset for SteamVR, it wasn’t clear how the platform would handle other headsets, or what would come of the early Oculus Rift support.
Despite that newfound competitive position between Oculus and Valve, the company has continued to update SteamVR to support the Rift.
Among the latest updates to Steam itself is a new prompt that pops up the moment you plug an Oculus Rift into your computer (assuming Steam is running) which directs users to install SteamVR. This happens for both the consumer Rift and the older DK2.
SteamVR is a self-contained version of Steam which can be accessed with a VR headset, allowing users to do pretty much everything they can do on the desktop version of the software, including browsing the store, installing, and launching games.
Since this week’s launch of the Oculus Rift and the latest Oculus 1.3 runtime, Valve has updated SteamVR to continue to allow both the DK2 and the new consumer Rift to work through the platform. Follow these instructions to get your Rift working with SteamVR.
For Oculus’ part, they say they’re interested in allowing other headsets to work with Oculus Home, but unlike Valve—which supplies the OpenVR SDK to allow any headset maker to hook into SteamVR—they are not leaving the door open.
Oculus founder Palmer Luckey last commented late last year on the company’s stance toward integrating other headsets into the Oculus platform:
“The issue is people who expect us to officially support all headsets on a platform level with some kind of universal Oculus SDK, which is not going to happen anytime soon,” he wrote on Reddit. “We do want to work with other hardware vendors, but not at the expense of our own launch, and certainly not in a way that leads to developing for the lowest common denominator – there are a lot of shitty headsets coming, a handful of good ones, and a handful that may never even hit the market. Keep in mind that support for the good ones requires cooperation from both parties, which is sometimes impossible for reasons outside our control.”
Additional reporting by Scott Hayden