Valve’s VR ambitions have been quiet for a long time. Now, out of the blue, Steam VR 2.0 has been released. Could this be the beginning of something bigger?
SteamVR 2.0 was first teased in early 2020 and was supposed to be released that year. Three and a half years later, the time has finally come: Valve is releasing Steam VR 2.0 in beta.
“We see this as the first big step toward our goal of bringing everything new to the Steam platform to VR,” the company wrote in the announcement. SteamVR 2.0 is therefore primarily a modernization of the SteamVR user interface.
A new dashboard
With the update, SteamVR gets a new dashboard that Valve says will bring the following improvements:
- Most of the current features of Steam and Steam Deck are now part of SteamVR
- Updated keyboard with support for new languages, emojis, and themes
- Integration of Steam Chat and Voice Chat
- Improved Store that puts new and popular VR releases front and center
SteamVR 2.0 is said to be improved over time as Valve prepares it “for its eventual full public launch”.
“This is just the beginning of SteamVR 2.0’s journey, and we’ll have more to share in the coming weeks and months as we collect feedback and work on the features mentioned above”, Valve writes.
What could come next
The sudden release of SteamVR 2.0 begs the question: Is this just an overdue maintenance update, or is there more to it?
It’s been rumored for years that Valve is working on a new wireless headset codenamed Deckard, and more recently, rumors have been swirling that the device could be accompanied by the release of a Valve-branded PC VR console. The announcement of SteamVR 2.0 marks Valve’s first significant VR move since the release of Valve Index (2019) and Half-Life: Alyx (2020). This gives fans hope that more is to come.
The release of the SteamVR 2.0 beta comes two days before the start of Meta Connect 2023, where Meta Quest 3 will be unveiled. We recall that, back in 2019, Valve fully unveiled its Index headset at the same time as Facebook announced the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S, basically to steal Facebook’s thunder. Will Valve repeat the coup tomorrow? We don’t know.
Either way, Meta Quest 3 is a product that will give SteamVR a boost as well. In fact, the inexpensive Meta Quest 2 may have brought more people into Valve’s PC VR ecosystem than Valve’s own headset. So Valve’s promotion of SteamVR right before Meta Connect makes sense, regardless of whether Valve announces new hardware.
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