Microsoft has revealed that it is partnering with Valve, a virtual reality firm and the developer of Steam. The partnership is expected to assist Microsoft as well as its hardware partners to improve their sales of Windows computers and virtual reality headsets since buyers will now have a wider games selection.
“The introduction of Windows Mixed Reality headsets is [a] big step forward for VR. Working with Microsoft to include SteamVR compatibility with these devices is also a big step in growing VR…” said Valve’s Joe Ludwig in a statement.
Before the deal with Valve, Microsoft had announced that its new headsets would only run games and apps that have been sourced from the Windows Store despite the fact that there is a sparse selection on the store. On Steam, however, there is a wider selection of virtual reality games and this includes Star Trek: Bridge Crew and Rick & Morty: Virtual Rick-ality. Fallout 4 VR is also expected to become available in the near future.
The partnership will meanwhile present Valve with an opportunity of expanding the market of its virtual reality games. At the moment HTC Vive is the only headset that can play Valve’s games. As a premium headset costing $599 this has limited the reach. HTC Vive was created by a collaboration of Huawei and Valve in response to Oculus Rift, the Facebook-owned headset. The new headsets however cost under $300 and this could assist in expanding the market and thus net new players of virtual reality games.
Integrated graphics hardware
Additionally Microsoft has revealed that its new headsets will have the capacity of being used with computers which possess integrated graphics hardware – these are computers whose graphics capabilities are built into the main processing chip of the computer. These computers are usually on the lower end of the market and this could potentially open the virtual reality market to users who don’t have the money to purchase a computer which is Vive or Rift-compatible as these are typically more expensive.
Microsoft’s new headsets will also be more user-friendly compared to the high-end competitors. There will also be no need for accessories with the new headsets unlike with Vive or Rift where extra sensors and cameras are needed in order to track head movements in various dimensions. The new headsets are expected to become available before the holiday shopping season starts. Some of the OEM partners fo Microsoft include Acer, Dell, Lenovo and HP.