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Play any game in your Steam library in virtual reality: SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode

Mar 14, 20163 mins
ComputersData and Information SecurityEnterprise Applications

Valve will unveil SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode at the Game Developers Conference; it will allow gamers to play every game in their Steam library in virtual reality.

Imagine being able to play any game in your Steam library inside a virtual reality setting. Valve will make it so via SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode.

Valve reportedly confirmed that any game in your library, including the non-VR titles, can be played in SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode. It’s in early beta, but Valve is expected to show it off at the Game Developers Conference this week in San Francisco.

Road to VR explained that with SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode, games not meant for VR will be “played inside a virtual environment in a sort of virtual home theater with a huge display.” Valve said SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode will support the $799 HTC Vive and “others” which likely means the $599 Oculus Rift; it might also include the $300 Razer OSVR and whatever future headsets that support SteamVR.

If the game is a non-VR title, you won’t exactly be inside of it whipping your head around to play; but the “HTC Vive and SteamVR experience are designed for ‘room-scale’ play.” Steam’s new VR mode has a “seated mode” which will allow gamers to use a keyboard and mouse or controller. You can supposedly slap on your VR headset and be transported into a virtual room – an environment that you can setup however you want; when you start gaming, you aren’t playing on the monitor in front of you, but on a massive cinema-sized display.

Numerous articles use Skyrim as an example of a first-person open-world game which could really be given an immersive kick. There are also warnings about puke-inducing motion sickness that could occur when a FPS game not created for VR is played in VR. Examples of no-no’s in the VR world include when the camera control is yanked out of your control to force you to look at a particular scene, cut-scenes, heavy mouse-based yaw control, text-based conversations with NPCs and possibly things like reading menus, keeping track of mini-maps or health/magic bars.

At any rate, SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode is an exciting idea which will likely tempt gamers to drop the dough for a VR headset in order to be transported into the VR realm even if they don’t own VR games. Valve is expected to host 36 SteamVR games at its GDC 2016 booth.

HTC Vive will reportedly start shipping in April, but May was the projected backorder shipping date when I checked into ordering it. If you cough up $800 for the Vive, it comes with VR motion controllers unlike the Rift. Vive pre-orders are to ship with “headset, two wireless controllers, and two base stations enabling 360° room-scale motion-tracking.” The $600 Oculus Rift ships with “headset, sensor, remote, cables, Xbox One controller, EVE: Valkyrie, and Lucky’s Tale.”

The curious might keep an eye on #GDC16.

ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.