Steam owner Valve has confirmed that an early beta of SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode exists for the world’s largest digital video game store. This mode will let the user enter a traditional desktop mode with a virtual screen on which to play games not intended for virtual reality.
Valve is working with mobile manufacturer HTC on a VR headset called HTC Vive, and SteamVR is the gaming company’s very own platform. Desktop Theater Mode is crucial for an uninterrupted VR experience — without it you’ll have to take the headset on and off depending on what you want to play. Games like Far Cry 4, Torchlight, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive all require a screen to play, but with the new mode that screen will come to you in VR. It’s a crucial step to widespread adoption and uninterrupted sessions in your virtual space. For a company like Valve, it’s also a way to make sure you spend as much time as possible with your device, thus creating a stronger bond and more reason to come back.
But you might be asking yourself why the company can’t just implement a virtual reality perspective automatically for first-person titles such as Far Cry 4. A simple and justified question with a disappointing answer. Games that aren’t designed to be played in VR simply don’t translate well into such experiences. Imagine having a conversation with an NPC in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; you would be locked in a single perspective with no ability to move around. Unless you’re interested in how it feels like to be visually paralyzed, it’s no way to go. Cutscenes also don’t translate well and are infamous for their nauseating tendencies in VR.
The SteamVR platform isn’t limited to the HTC Vive. It also supports the Oculus Rift and will likely come to support even more VR devices as the market grows. The company will show off its new desktop mode at GDC 2016, which lasts from March 14-18.