Valve is preparing to show off never-before-seen virtual reality hardware in March 2015 at the upcoming Game Developers Conference. According to an update on the company’s website, Valve will use the conference to demonstrate “a previously-unannounced SteamVR hardware system,” alongside the latest iterations of the Steam Machine consoles and a final version of the Steam Controller.
It’s no secret that Valve has been experimenting with virtual reality for a number of years. In January 2014, it launched a beta for SteamVR, which lets Steam users explore Big Picture mode — Steam’s TV-friendly interface — with a headset. Support for virtual reality was also added to a number of games in Steam’s extensive catalog.
Valve has also been experimenting with VR hardware of its own for quite a while, but little has been shared publicly. In late 2013, two former Valve engineers left the company to launch their own augmented reality Kickstarter as Technical Illusions Inc. Prior to leaving they had been experimenting with various approaches to both augmented and virtual reality systems for games. Interested developers going to the conference can sign up for a limited demo with the dev kit here.
Steam Machines were revealed in 2013 as a modular, gaming-centric alternative to conventional living room computers, bridging the gap between PCs and consoles. Numerous third-party machines came to market in 2014, but they lacked a working SteamOS, the Linux-based operating system that is the core of the Steam Machines program, and a finalized Steam Controller. Valve’s own hardware has remained in closed beta tests.
A final version of the Steam Controller will also be on display. The gamepad was delayed from its planned 2014 release to 2015, and has undergone heavy iteration in preparation for its impending release. As Half-Life fans know, Valve is generally inclined to take as much time as it needs to get something just right.