Open Source Virtual Reality Platform Launches on Steam
Is now the time to break away from the big three names in VR?
Co-founders of the Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) consortium announced today that an upcoming Steam update would include support for open-platform VR content. This means that any game on Steam sporting the OSVR logo (below) should be compatible with whichever VR headset you connect to your PC.
“This is a great milestone for VR,” said Christopher Mitchell, OSVR lead at Razer via press release. “Giving users access to more hardware and content and driving Valve’s and OSVR’s shared vision of totally open VR content to everyone.”
Most people have heard of the three big players in VR: the HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, and the Oculus Rift. Each has a dedicated storefront that is capable of denying access to the games on offer for people with competing headsets. There is some crossover, and many VR titles are released on all three platforms, but it’s true that we’re talking about three walled-gardens, designed to keep the competitors out.
OSVR aims to change that. “OSVR is a movement founded to create a universal open source VR ecosystem for technologies across different brands and companies,” reads the OSVR vision statement. “Giving you the freedom to combine different brands of HMDs and Controllers to experience VR the way they want to.” OSVR is supported by Razer, Sensics, Leap Motion, Intel, Gearbox Software, amongst others.
The backbone of OSVR is its software development kit (SDK), which allows developers to build support for all of the VR headsets on the market into their games. The intention being to reduce the hardware fragmentation that is forming around the big three.
"We are delighted to announce support for OSVR titles," said Valve’s Augusta Butlin. "Steam is an open platform for all developers, and adding support for OSVR further expands the massive content offerings for the millions of gamers on Steam."
OSVR and its Developer Fund program is offering up to $5m to incentivize developers to build games that support OSVR. Out of reportedly hundreds of applications, 38 games have been funded so far.
Read more about the new open VR platform over at the OSVR website.
Razer and Sensics have also released a low-cost devkit OSVR headset, in the hopes that other developers will take the concept and start developing their own VR headsets to work with the OSVR platform.