HTC launched Viveport, their VR game marketplace, back in August 2016 to relatively little fanfare. It didn’t boast any compelling exclusives or big draws when it came to content deals, and was notorious for being a buggy, unstable mess. It essentially left Vive users scratching their collective heads as to why anyone would ever want to use it over Steam. Now that three years have passed, and the platform has opened up support to Oculus Rift and Windows VR headsets, you’re probably wondering if Viveport is still to be avoided, or if you should give it another chance.

My take: Viveport has come a long ways since the early days, and now presents a pretty compelling value proposition. It’s still struggling to attract premium content, which may ward off users for the long haul, although a short-term dip into Infinity is certainly worth your time and money.

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

The first time I ever used Viveport, it was entirely by mistake. After getting a new, more powerful computer and locking into an hour-long battle with SteamVR to get it up and running again, I started to get desperate. For some reason neither my Vive or Rift were being detected by SteamVR on the new rig, and although it ultimately came down to having to roll back a GPU driver, at the time I was at the end of my rope.

So I decided to visit the HTC Vive website and download whatever software they had on offer to see if that would fix the issue. Oh, what blissful naivete. While I thought I was getting a driver installer, or some auto-magical software to ease my pain, I was instead treated to a buggy and intrusive storefront that only lasted about two days on my computer before I officially gave it the boot. Yes, I eventually fixed the issue and got my headsets working, although the bitter taste of Viveport still lingered in my mouth.

SEE ALSO
HTC is Now Giving Away 2 Free Months of Viveport Infinity to Rift Owners

Needless to say, I was a bit turned off after my first experience with Viveport, and had also heard plenty of similar comments about it in the months and even years after. The next time I installed it was about three months ago, or right when HTC launched Viveport Infinity, their unlimited Netflix-style subscription service—not a first for traditional gaming, but certainly a first for VR. Recoiling somewhat from clicking the patented blue ‘Download Here’ button (once bitten, forever shy), I jumped back in to see just why the company was giving away a full month of Infinity to Viveport users at the time.

After going through the installation process and playing around with the store’s mostly standard UI, it was clear to me HTC had made significant headway in not only overhauling the platform entirely, but in finding Viveport’s raison d’être. Its claim to fame isn’t in its prices or selection of games; it still doesn’t have any great anchor titles that you can’t get on either Steam or the Oculus Store. But it does have Infinity.

An Infinite* Buffet of Games

Viveport is mostly like any other digital storefront—you can buy individual games & apps and launch them directly from the desktop client just like Steam or the Oculus Store—although Viveport insistently points to sign up for the platform’s $13 per month ($100 annual) Viveport Infinity membership once you fire up the desktop client, making it clear just how HTC ultimately thinks you should spend your money.

Image captured by Road to VR

Opting in lets you pay a single price to download any and all participating apps in the platform’s pool of around 500 games and experiences. If you redeem the two-month free trial for Rift and Index users (14-day trial still available for Vive users), you’ll have that privilege for free for a limited time.

The service is basically founded on the premise that you’ll be able to fully sample anything you want within the decidedly less than infinite confines of Infinity. I tend to think of it this way: Viveport Infinity is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. There are some big-ticket items in the warmer trays out there—veritable crab legs and peeled shrimp—and then there’s the other stuff. I’ll get to that in a bit.

Here’s a few notable main courses you might dip your ladle into:

  • Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs
  • Apex Construct
  • Fantastic Contraption
  • I Expect You to Die
  • Knockout League
  • Obduction
  • Prison Boss VR
  • Pixel Ripped 1989
  • The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed
  • The Gallery – Episode 2: Heart of the Emberstone
  • Tilt Brush
  • Transpose
  • Windlands
  • Windlands 2

All of these games are definitely worth your time, and easily make up the annual subscription cost of $100, let alone the $13 monthly. All together, they represent a total cost of more than $300 when purchased individually, so the value proposition here is clear—if you don’t mind losing access to the game when you cancel your subscription, that is. If you’re a one-and-done sort of person though, it’s a pretty good opportunity to load up on the all good stuff and play it to your heart’s content.

SEE ALSO
Oculus is Forcing the Removal of SteamVR Streaming from Quest App, Dev Says

Less Big Titles, Plenty of Chaff

Big caveat: you won’t find a number of Steam/Oculus Store regulars on the Viveport platform at all, not just on Infinity. There’s no Beat Saber, Job Simulator, Elite Dangerous, Pavlov, Onward, Fallout 4 VR, Skyrim VR, or Electronauts just to name a few. While Viveport does have some recognizable names such as Superhot VR and Arizona Sunshine, these aren’t available through Infinity, so make sure to check first. This invariably puts a damper on what would otherwise be a true one-stop shop capable of taking some real VR user market share away from other platforms.

Coming back to my buffet metaphor: unsurprisingly, a pretty large percentage of the food on offer seems to be cheap filler, some of which is clearly of questionable provenance. Once you start browsing Infinity games and get past page 5 of 28 (ordered according to HTC’s own ‘Featured’ filter), you start to see just how much $1 – $6 range content there is.

Image captured by Road to VR

That’s not to say any store should only have the ‘good’ games; we all have different tastes. Case in point: I thought Sos Sosowski’s Moshpit Simulator was good even though much of it is a self-aware pile of flaming garbage, and it pains me to think that indie titles of all stripes shouldn’t have a place in the store front. There’s plenty of low quality games to sift through in Infinity though, and whether you play them or not, you’re paying for the privilege.

That said, HTC is constantly vying for developers to publish on their platform, and offers an attractive revenue share to help incentivize (80/20 currently). In addition to tossing their games on Viveport, developers can also check a box to get their games into the Infinity program. And as it goes, Infinity represents a smaller, but more consistent revenue stream: exactly the type of thing older, higher-profile games and—forgive the word—shovelware can equally benefit from.

When you download and start a new title on Infinity, the app developer is paid a percentage just for getting you through the door. While I haven’t played every horrible looking game to test my pet theory, I imagine this leaves more room for nefarious developers to make outwardly attractive promotional material and store descriptions, and then leave you with your pants around your ankles once you actually fire it up.

Performance, Platforms & Patience

Viveport is no longer the resource hungry lout it once was. Now, it seems to sit contentedly in the background (where it belongs), sipping no more appreciable resources than Steam or the Oculus Store when idling. Launching a game is a refreshingly no frills experience too; native Rift games start right up, while all others automatically open up via SteamVR.

In my revisiting of Viveport, I also found it non-intrusive to a fault. Playing Viveport games on Rift, I have the ability to jump directly to the Oculus Store with one button press at any time, and provided SteamVR is also active, right back to Steam Home too. The only way to interact with Viveport is through my monitor, which seems like a missed opportunity for users who want to invest themselves more in the ecosystem. It’s possible this could change in the future as Viveport justifies itself as a platform and not just a storefront with a thus far unique subscription service.

And that decision to lead the way into subscription-based VR gaming has lent Viveport an air of legitimacy, however if the content doesn’t keep up with even the most zealous of users, Viveport’s big claims to fame may present somewhat of a revolving door of users coming in for the good stuff, then leaving when the shrimp is gone and the Mongolian BBQ station is closed (yes, the buffet metaphor again). And it’s clear HTC and its Viveport team have their work cut out for them as they carve out this new path. Ideally, HTC will need to ply more top developers to also publish on Viveport, which would help bring the dueling platforms’ premium games more to parity.

In the end, Viveport is in somewhat of a sticky place. As a store, it hasn’t made the deep investments in content that Oculus has to attract users. It also doesn’t benefit from Steam’s catch-all business model that has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly in much larger quantities. But free is free, and if you’re interested in any of the titles I mentioned above, you should definitely give Viveport another chance.

– – — – –

You may be asking yourself at this point whether I’ve decided to pay for Viveport after my two-month free trial that came with owning an Oculus Rift. As a VR journalist, I’ve actually played most of the ‘premium’ games on the list already, either obtained as review copies given to me by developers, or purchased through other store fronts when they first came out, so I’m far from your typical user here.

Depending on your amount of free time, you may or may not be able to rip through all of the top titles in less than two months. At that point you’ll have to decide whether it’s right for you or not, and whether you’re okay with losing access to the game afterwards. Whatever your decision is, there’s no better deal that free, so take that for what it’s worth. And whatever the case may be, you can always sign back up and pick up where you left off at any time.

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  • Raphael

    Can’t stand the UI… Managing installed content…. awful.

  • eckehard

    What a long blabla – now in 2019 Infinity is okay for single game buying -not more not less- I´ve tested it

  • bschuler

    As a Viveport fan from day 1, I’m glad you gave it a second try. I like it and it works for me, but I do understand people have differing tastes and/or brand loyalty. But Infinity and it’s “Neflix of VR Gaming” idea is brilliant and I wish more options like that existed. But if HTC is the only company able to do it.. so be it. I’m open minded and drawn to the service, not the name behind it. All these services though have to work on better UI, better library management, etc.. not just Viveport. Can’t wait for the new Steam UI.. hope it is an improvement.

    • Popin

      The new library UI looks to have leaked and Tyler McVicker (VNN) did a video of it. Looks pretty good and I’m looking forward to seeing the whole client updated.
      watch?v=F4Zoiyfk9v4

  • DanDei

    There is a good dozen of worthy games and experiences and a ton of shovelware. It’s a solid deal for 1-3 month depending how many of the bigger titels you already own but nothing that would tempt me towards a year long subscription.

  • Jarom Madsen

    I am very intrigued to see where Viveport ends up esp. after this promotional deal expires. It seems like a great motivator for developers to actually develop more substantial VR content instead of games you can blow past in a trial period.

    I’m also curious to hear the thoughts of developers during this promo period. Reading the Terms and Conditions for having a game on the platform, devs agree to not receive any kind of compensation from users that play their games in a trial/promotional period. Since most of these “premium” games are still easy to complete in an hour or two, I wonder if they feel like they’re getting burned here and whether we’ll actually see more developers buy in as a result.

    HTC’s gamble here is a pretty gutsy one and I personally hope it pans out as I think it could do great things for the VR market and promote more quality experiences to come from VR devs. It’ll be telling if you see a lot more of the big sellers come to Infinity after the promo when actual money can be made or if the promo only stimulated artificial growth and it plummets immediately afterwards.

    • Ugur Ister

      Yeah. I think the part that devs do not get any compensation for the trial period will make many devs shy away from this after at best giving it a try once.
      It is no good to receive no compensation.

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  • JesuSaveSouls

    Its a nice service and you cant beat free for two months.It has always been free for a month to signup.It use to be five paid games free per month but now its more like netflix with almost every game free with limitless downloads.Its not the go to exclusive over steam but it works with steam and a great alternative.Jesus is mankinds sole hope !

    • MAGA Man

      Infinity is great! Trump will save us in 2020!!! MAGA!!!

      • mirak

        Trump and Jesus are idiots.

        • Warscent

          You probably lacked love as a child. You won’t find true happiness in video games pumpkin.

          • mirak

            Seems you got plenty of love from Jesus the pedophile when you were a child.

          • Warscent

            Project much?
            Muhammad was a proud pedo, Jesus was celibate. Read a book or three.

          • mirak

            Project what ?
            I am not the one beliving in fiction stories.

            I dont know if you sucked Muhammad dick when you were a child.

          • Warscent

            Muhammad isn’t fiction dingbat. His stories are.

          • mirak

            Exactly what I said idiot.

            The fact they really existed or not is by the way really secondary to the fact that some wackos wrote stories and that some other wackos believed them.
            And there is still wackos to believe that shit now.

  • superdonkey

    is kindof surprising how much cash goes into vr hardware for such a small amount of good content.

  • Good to see that it is improving. And I bet that with 5G and the Cosmos attached to a 5G phone, HTC will try to become the Netflix of VR

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