Valve, the company behind popular gaming platforms such as Steam and Steam Deck, has a history of experimenting with hardware devices. Some of these devices, such as the Valve Index VR headset and the Steam Controller, have been released to the public, while others, such as the Steam Machines, have been canceled or discontinued.
Recently, a Valve employee revealed that the company had another hardware project that was scrapped before it was announced: a dedicated VR console that would have been launched alongside the Index in 2019.
The VR console was “stupid expensive” and not ready
The employee, Pierre-Loup Griffais, who is a Linux and graphics developer at Valve, shared this information in a public Discord channel. The message was spotted by VR pundit Brad Lynch, who posted a screenshot of it on Twitter.
Griffais said that the company wanted to do an “appliance VR box” that would run VR games and applications without the need for a PC. However, he said that the project was canceled because it was “stupid expensive” and because the technologies that would enable it, such as Proton and SteamOS, were not ready at the time.
He also said that the hardware work for the VR console was minimal, consisting of “just a PC case and a mainboard to go in it”. This implies that the console was not very far along in development and that Valve did not finalize the specifications or features of the device.
Valve’s focus on VR and Linux continues
Despite abandoning the VR console idea, Valve has not given up on its efforts to push VR and Linux gaming forward. The company has been improving its Proton software, which allows Windows games to run on Linux systems with minimal performance loss or compatibility issues. Proton is also a key component of the Steam Deck, Valve’s upcoming handheld gaming device that runs on a custom version of SteamOS.
Valve has also been supporting its Index VR headset with software updates and new accessories, such as the recently released Index Fit Kit. The Index is widely regarded as one of the best VR headsets on the market, offering high-resolution displays, fast refresh rates, wide field of view, and advanced tracking and controllers.
Additionally, Valve has been working on new VR games, such as Half-Life: Alyx, which was released in 2020 to critical acclaim. The company has also hinted at other VR projects in development, such as Citadel, which is rumored to be a multiplayer shooter set in the Half-Life universe.
The future of VR is uncertain but exciting
Valve is not the only company that is investing in VR and trying to shape its future. Meta (formerly Facebook) has been dominating the VR market with its Oculus Quest 2 headset, which offers wireless and standalone VR at an affordable price. Meta has also announced its plans to create a metaverse, a virtual world where people can socialize, work, play, and create.
Other tech giants, such as Apple, Google, Samsung, Sony, and HTC, are also rumored or confirmed to be working on their own VR or mixed reality devices. These devices could offer new features and experiences that could challenge or surpass the current offerings from Valve and Meta.
The competition and innovation in the VR industry could lead to more immersive and accessible VR experiences for consumers in the near future. However, there are also challenges and risks involved, such as privacy concerns, ethical dilemmas, technical limitations, and market saturation. The fate of VR is still uncertain, but it is certainly exciting to watch.