It seems like VR gaming has been in kind of a holding pattern for the last year or two, ever since Half-Life: Alyx came out. I suspect that, with Facebook/Meta pushing hard to get AR into the hands of more regular consumers, and the looming threat of Apple’s Vision Pro next year, a lot of companies are using this time to shore up their core products. Like Valve, for example — it just published a huge update to the SteamVR platform, now in its 2.0.1 beta release.
For the uninitiated, SteamVR refers to both the platform (the system and APIs that a lot of VR games on Steam use) and the user interface that Steam uses for virtual reality. This update is mostly about the latter, which has been given a fairly sizeable facelift and functionality boost. SteamVR 2.0 introduces a new dashboard, new store page, new keyboard interface — it’s just a lot of work done across the board. Steam Chat and Voice Chat are now available while using a headset.
Perhaps most important is the revamp to the Steam store’s presentation while in VR, which now puts VR content “front and center.” There are tons of smaller tweaks for ease of use and smooth operation. A particularly interesting one noted by the update page is that SteamVR won’t show you an inter-pupillary distance (IPD) slider if you’re using a Meta-branded headset, since the Meta hardware covers that already.
This is still a beta release, and there’s no indication of when it’ll graduate to the full version. Some are reporting that Valve may be sprucing up its software in anticipation of a new Index headset. While Valve has confirmed that new VR hardware is in development, there’s no sign of when it might be coming to market, either.