Image courtesy Valve

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.

Apparently in an effort to ensure continued support for the Oculus Rift through SteamVR, a November 30th update brings the platform in line with the latest version of the Rift SDK and Runtime (v0.8).

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.

See Also: Half-Life 2 and Steam Get Oculus Rift DK2 Support, Here’s How to Make it Work

steamvr htc vive developer edition unboxing (1)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.

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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.

See Also: 5 Amazing Valve VR Headset Concepts and Why the Artist Spent the Last Week Making Them

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

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  • Al

    While it seems to work, I am encountering heavy judder to any head movement with SteamVR that translate in everything else (games). Their performance graphs however show stable latency at less than 10ms. On the other hand, native SDK8 (not Steam) and virtual desktop is flawless so there has to be an issue on how the steam compositor interface with the SDK.

    Initially thought the issue may have been with my AMD hardware as Steam seems to have issues properly supporting it, but it appears that (some/many?) NVidia users have the same problem.

    On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that Steam will continue to evolve their drivers until it works right.

    • UKRifter Oculus VR

      my experience exactly

    • ditto. While I easily get 100fps on Radeon + DK2 with the usual demos, using latest SteamVR performance drops to significantly less than 20fps. Also, SteamVR doens’t appear to drive any games properly on the DK2 other than the main menu and calibration utilities. It does successfully identify DK2 as goggles, and curiously, the DK2 camera as a solo LightHouse unit. There is some serious optimization that needs to be done in the “camera to render” chain tho.

  • Carl Usick

    There were many of us that were extremely dubious about the incredibly ambitious timetable for the launch of the Vive headset for VR. Apparently, the people in the know at Steam are not putting their eggs in that basket either. It was wrong to make promises that couldn’t possibly be kept, even when no one at the time could do more than scoff.

    • VirtualBro

      edit: Sry for trolling. (Original post basically said “Valve’s hardware team sux”)

      • ORParga

        Steam controler, Steam link, Steam machine… Is not easy to have the knowledge enought about electronics to be sure about who is and who is not a good choice for manufacturing a product. htc has the human and infrastructure. But Steam is watching them.

  • Zach Gray

    Great commentary. I’d love to see you ask some deeper questions about how the ‘rift’ (yuk yuk) developed between the two groups. I doubt you could get anybody to stop being a chicken and talk to you, but I’d love to hear it. It was clear that valve was key to oculus’ early success, and their mutual openness moved the industry forward. That appears to have cooled and they’ve moved apart. I think they are fighting for brand position, and I hope that doesn’t interfere with actually sharing tech that creates the market for everyone.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Ofcourse valve supports the Oculus with SteamVR, let’s not forget Valve is making money from selling (other people’s) games.. The understand that only supporting the Vive isn’t a smart move for themselves (also when it comes to acceptance of VR itself).

    • Dave

      Are you insane? It’s the total opposite, oculus is NOT open source, vive IS open source, the company you should be supporting is HTC and Valve because their product is geared toward the consumer, not toward greedy money grubbing, which is literally the ONLY reason oculus is after this DRM locked user environment. Right off the bat people should understand that a VR device is a PERIPHERAL choice, like buying a monitor, and as such oculus/facebook has no right telling me what I can and cannot play on it. The very nature of open source means that the Vive is essentially the ONLY smart choice for your VR purchase because it inevitably will have access to any and all VR software via user created cracks/workarounds, while the oculus pidgeon holes themselves into only running software that they have approved, limiting you as the consumer in the end on what your device is capable of and the amount of content you will have at your disposal. For the love of god DO NOT support a company like oculus that promotes DRM locking software based on a PERIPHERAL choice.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Oh please.. Talk about ‘closedsource’, htc vive only works/supports about moneygrabbing, valve and their beloved steam…. So how is it different if some games are steam-only compared to oculus-store only? As an oculus user you can have both, yes the consumer version is NOT limited to the oculus store only, you also can use stean, as a vive user you can only use steam… Oh but steam is funny enough YOUR choice of online library, so that makes it all right… Don’t think for a second valve is doing it all for the love of the community, you’re a real f-ing moron if you think so.. They get a large piece of money for every sold game on steam, and you also have to pay at least $100 to even get your game on steam, well to only even get them to check it out, with no guarantee it will even be in their store… No gabe newel is not a nice man…..

        • Dave

          I think you need to do some more research, the vive is 100% open source and always has/will be, it is NOT only functional within the steam store, the SDK is FREE and everyone is invited to develop their own software for it and does not have to pay HTC or valve a cent to do so unless they want it in their store. Oculus however does not allow open access to their SDK, they only allow software to be run on the oculus that has been previously approved by oculus, and are currently DRM locking titles to their HMD ie. Eve valkyrie. There is ZERO technical reasons for there to be VR exclusives, it is strictly oculus trying to fuck the competitor in a way that directly fucks the consumer more. I dont know why you cant understand basic business model strategy but oculus is basically copy pasting Apples insanely close source business model which any tech savvy person knows are inferior hardware products in a pretty package for an insanely inflated price that wont run anything they havent okay’d first.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Except Eve Valkyrie isn’t an Oculus exclusive, the devs already said it will come to the playstationvr and htc vive..
            If you want to publish on the Oculus Store Yes then you HAVE to AT LEAST support the Oculus SDK, so if you only support SteamVR you can’t sell it on the Oculus Store, but if you support SteamVR AND OculusSDK then you can sell it on the Oculus Store (granted it passes quality control, which is also a proces you have to go through if you want to publish a game on Steam)..
            And yes, Oculus will try to get you to use their store as they will receive a percentage of every sale, but the same is for Steam, it also grabs 30% of every sale (and that’s the reason why Valve is trying so hard to get as many devices on their SteamVR)..
            But all in all, the Oculus is just as open as the Vive, you can use the Oculus SDK without having to sell your game through the Oculus Store, and you don’t have to pay Oculus a cent for using their SDK.. It’s exactly the same with the Oculus as with the Vive, but I think you are blinded by something (maybe because you hate facebook or something) to see that..

            Yes with the GearVR it’s locked to the Oculus store, but the GearVR IS NOT the Oculus Rift…

          • Dave

            Youre still not getting it, or are just so blinded by fanboyism to accept the truth. You keep saying things that simply arent true and have been proven not to be true by oculus press releases and developer interviews. Eve valkyrie IS under contract with oculus to NOT work on vive, it will be on psvr because the contract does not say they cant run on psvr, however oculus IS DRM locking against vive compatibility. Vive however has stated that they are completely willing to work with oculus on multiplatform compatibility, the ball is and has been in oculus’ court for a while now, THEY are the ones refusing to allow access to the oculus market. This is public info that is easy to find and readily available so please stop spewing misinformation on a topic you arent willing to properly research.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            YOU Keep saying things that is just not true.. Yes Eve Valkyrie is TIMED exclusive to the Oculus.. And Oculus IS NOT!! DRM locking against vive compatibility, yes THEIR SDK only works with the Oculus, as it’s the SDK which it’s been using from the start, and it’s up to the developers to use that SDK AND others for VR, but if you want to publish on the Oculus store you will need to AT LEAST! support the Oculus SDK (and this information is also publicly available)..

            No YOU should stop spewing misinformation as you haven’t done your research properly.. The only one who is blinded by fanboyism is you… Or you just don’t understand what I mean..
            Funny enough, you are talking about Oculus and their store being locked to the Oculus Rift, you propably have not been reading up on the HTC Viveport which is locked to the HTC Vive..

          • Dave

            Jesus its like youre deliberitely misinterpreting information to help further your non-existant argument. Eve valkyrie being ANY kind of exclusive timed or otherwise is a DRM lock, it is a legal contract between the dev and oculus to only allow access via their headset. I am well aware of what viveport is. It is an interface much like steam VR designed for the vive (but never stated to only work on the vive) to allow people in regions where much of steam is limited to still get the full experience, I’m assuming you live in america which means not only does this not even apply to you, it makes your entire argument bringing it up a moot point because one its just an alternative interface environment, not a game or application but rather a method for viewing and selecting those games/progeams and two they never state it is only able to run on vive, simply that it was designed with the vive in mind (no shit its valve software). Youre quite possibly the most stubborn and dense fanboy ive ever seen so I dont expect you to have any logical thoughts on this topic, your judgement is already flawed based on misinformed fanboyism but here is a link fully explaining how OCULUS is the one trying to control software accessability, in it are a number of interviews with heads of HTC and Valves VR department where they go on the record stating that they despise DRM locking, exclusives, and closed source as a business model and the ONLY thing holding them up is oculus not willing to play ball with them.

          • Robert

            OpenVR (SteamVR) has no requirement for you to sell though Steam.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            OpenVR not, but SteamVR does only work with Steam…

          • Liroku

            OpenVR is SteamVR……They changed the name as it evolved. SteamVR is obsolete.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            No it’s not, there is a difference between OpenVR and SteamVR, SteamVR also has extra api’s for integration with the steam platform..

        • Goomba

          Dave is right. Vive is open to whoever wants to let the consumer play their games with it. The difference is that while Valve is saying, “Yes, anyone can use our SDK, even Oculus.” Oculus is going the other way and pressuring game developers into Oculus exclusive contracts that forbid them from making their games playable on any other platform. A similar situation would be Microsoft making their computers work with only Microsoft brand monitors. It’s a greedy move with no thought for the consumer.

          In short, Vive can’t play Oculus games because Oculus said they couldn’t. And Oculus CAN play Vive games because Vive said they COULD. Who should you be supporting here?

          • Dave

            Finally, someone with a bit of logic who understands that vive not working with oculus software isnt because of valve, its because of oculus being greedy scumbags trying to monopolize the VR market before it even begins at the expense of the consumer. Inevitably via cracks/workarounds made possible by valves open source nature, the vive will run ALL software, even oculus “exclusives” whether they like it or not. The same can not be said about oculus because they are pursuing hard coded software blocking in the base runtime for the HMD. This means not only is valve the company you should support because they arent pieces of shit like oculus, its also just straight up the smarter buy as a consumer to be able to run the majority if not all of VR software to be released in the future.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Except you’re talking BS, Oculus doesn’t pressure game developers into Oculus exclusive contracts, you can use the SDK anyway you like, you CAN sell your game through the Oculus store, just like you can sell your game through Steam..
            And Vive isn’t open at all, as it requires SteamVR, and SteamVR is locked to the Steam platform.. So how the F can you talk about it being open..
            Also it isn’t VIVE who said they could…. It’s steam who supports the Oculus with their SteamVR, and guess why…… BECAUSE STEAM GETS MONEY (30%) FROM EVERY SALE ON THEIR STORE…. And there are also Steam exclusives which aren’t available on the Oculus store..
            You’re really talking BS by saying Oculus is locked.. Yes, their store is locked, but you’re not obligated to use the Oculus store at all. And at the time Oculus released their DK’s and SDK’s there wasn’t an open API available for VR, so they had to create their own SDK.
            You still see Vive as a Valve product, which it isn’t, it’s a HTC product made in conjunction with valve, but it’s all HTC who makes the hardware and gets the money from the hardware sale.. It’s Valve who makes money from every sold game through steam, and therefore Valve is making sure as many devices are compatible with their API’s, because the more devices, the more money for them… Valve isn’t as nice as you make them out to be, it’s all about the money, that’s Gabe Newell, all about money… (but then again, I can’t blame them for that, I would do the same, just like you would)..
            Also it’s not Oculus who is supporting Steam, it’s valve who is supporting Oculus their SDK with their SteamVR..

            So next time before you talk BS, get your facts straight..

          • Robert

            Did you even read the article.

            “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.”

      • Enjiel J Kaldwor

        OR is currently owned by Facebook. Call them “money grubbing” all you like, but please look into things that Facebook has been working on the past few years. They are looking into providing free internet to everyone, pretty much everywhere. Plus, Facebook doesn’t charge anything for using their main product (Facebook). You’re entitled to your opinion, but I thought I’d at least point that out. At this point in the game, I’m surprised that anyone is doing cross platform work since VR is currently generating almost no revenue and is costing the companies quite a bit to continue development. It’s still way too new.

  • Bryan Ischo

    Hm, does this mean that The Talos Principle works in VR mode again? I paid for that game because I read it supported VR mode and yet it hasn’t worked at all yet. Disappointing.

    • Raphael

      Yes, I gave up trying to get Talos to work.

  • Diverack

    I am very glad that valve decided to continue supporting the oculus rift, i almost thought i wouldnt be able to play vr games on steam without a vive headset, i’m a huge rift fan so this makes me very happy.

    • Would be nice to play Luckey’s Tale on Vive and other headsets. No need for a VR war that creates dumbass fangirls.

    • Dave

      The question is WHY are you a rift fan? The company as a whole does not have the consumers best interest in mind, this very article proves that Valve is far more concerned about the end user than oculus is.