Amidst ongoing development of Valve’s SteamVR platform, a recent update has brought support for the latest version of the Oculus Rift SDK and Runtime.
This allows those with a DK2 running the Oculus Runtime to launch SteamVR, which currently looks much like Steam’s ‘Big Picture Mode’, but in VR. SteamVR games can be launched and viewed with the headset.
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 and the company was 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 the newfound competitive position between Oculus and Valve, the company has continued to update SteamVR to support the Rift since. This latest update, as both companies approach their consumer launches, appears to signal that Valve is committed to supporting the Rift on SteamVR, even up to the eventual 1.0 release of the Rift SDK and ‘CV1′ consumer version of the headset.
This creates an interesting unilateral situation for the two companies, wherein SteamVR will support the Oculus Rift, but, so far as we know, Oculus’ own VR platform will not support the HTC Vive.
Valve’s play appears to be to make SteamVR a headset-agnostic destination for virtual reality gaming. At the SVVR Conference & Expo 2015 back in May, Valve’s Joe Ludwig spoke about OpenVR, a development layer with the goal of “allowing existing titles to run on new hardware with no changes.”
“Games that use OpenVR won’t need to update in order to use new headsets or new vendor hardware,” Ludwig said. “The important part of OpenVR is that it has no gate keepers. No one will tell you what you can and can’t make. And while we want apps to go through Steam, there’s no requirement that an app does.”
Update (12/8/15): Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey has reaffirmed that the company is interested in working with other hardware vendors, though they don’t seem to be take the same open-access approach as Valve. Original article continues below.
Oculus’ play is much the same
except for supporting other headsets; the company won’t dictate what content developers can create for the Rift, though they do impose content guidelines for those seeking to distribute through their store.
Additional reporting by Scott Hayden