Gabe Newell Teases ‘House-Scale’ VR, Three ‘Full’ Valve VR Games

by Jamie Feltham • February 10th, 2017

The knowledge that Valve was working on a VR game was enough to get any headset fan excited. But the company’s plans for the future go well beyond that.

At a press briefing in Seattle this week, as reported by Gamasutra, company founder Gabe Newell teased what it was working on in VR right now, and shared thoughts about where he thought the tech would go in the near future. He said that he believed room-scale VR, a concept the company introduced with the help of the HTC Vive, would eventually grow into “house-scale” VR that transform a series of rooms into a VR experience.

valve-lobby

That obviously requires positionally-tracked (hopefully inside-out, unless Valve wants base stations in every room of our houses) wireless headsets, which Newell called a “solved problem”. He said wireless VR would be an “add-on” this year, likely referring to kits like TPCAST’s wireless adapter for the Vive, and that it would become an integrated feature by 2018. Could that possibly suggest there will be wireless SteamVR headsets — maybe even a second Vive — next year?

Newell also revealed that the company is actually working on not one but three full VR games. That doesn’t mean short tech demos, that means three actual games.

The SteamVR creator first confirmed that it was working on a full game for the tech at last years Steam Dev Days event, and Newell recently reconfirmed its interest in developing content for headsets.

This week, though, he said that working on both VR hardware with the Vive and software gave the company the kind of advantage that legendary Nintendo developer and Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto also benefited from.

“[Miyamoto] has had the ability to think about what the input devices & the design of systems should be like while he’s trying to design games,” Newell said. “Our sense is that that’s going to allow us to actually build much better entertainment experiences for people.”

valve-destinations

Newell explained that these projects will also hopefully teach positive and possibly negative lessons to other developers, further describing the games as “very different.”

“Each game developer will be able to look at those and say, that was great, that was not as great,” he said. “Which is part of, from our point of view, that’s a useful charateristic of these three.”

Previously, Valve has released two VR experiences. The first, The Lab, is a free collection of minigames from the company, showcasing just what you can do with the HTC Vive and room scale VR, two technologies that are sure to be supported in the company’s new games. The second was Destinations, a sort of hub app that allows people to visit user-created worlds, either with friends or on their own. They’re both great, but they’re not the true games that Valve crafts so well.

As for if you’ll see these games only on Vive? Newell’s stance on exclusive content didn’t make it seem that way. “It’s like you’ve got people building proprietary walled gardens who say be exclusive to us and we’ll give you this bunch of money,” he said, likely rreferringto Facebook’s Oculus and its Home ecosystem. “And we’re like, we hate exclusives. We think it’s bad for everybody, certainly in the medium- to long-term, and I’d probably argue in the short-term as well.”

That’s not a new stance from the company, and Newell reiterated that Valve works with developers to help “manage your cashflow”.

At this point, we don’t need to remind you of the developer’s resume, and why you should be looking out for these games. The company previously suggested that we might see at least one of them at some point this year, and the 2017 Game Developers Conference is right around the corner. Could Valve be planning to steal the show there?

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  • Tako Schotanus

    Why does the article add “(likely inside-out)”, when nowhere in the interview that is mentioned. It least make it obvious that it’s your own opinion by adding “ed.”. This way you make it sound like it was a hint dropped by Gabe himself.

    • Jamie Feltham

      Fair point. Poorly phrased speculation is all. Edited for clarity.

      • Tako Schotanus

        Much better, thanks! 🙂

      • RationalThought

        One of the reasons I come here daily….aside from love of VR. You guys rock, seriously.

  • 3 games. Half Life 3 confirmed!

    • koenshaku

      Yeah 3 games was clearly a play on words. Half Life 3, Dota 3 and Team Fortress 3.

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      yeah!!!!!!!!:-)

  • Paulo

    Its easy to say “exclusives are terrible” when you have the #1 PC selling platform in the world. Oculus are doing what is necessary to survive against the gorilla that is steam.

    I only hope that Oculus will allow other headsets into home some day.

    • Bundy

      Totally agree. What bugs me is people always rant and rave when an Oculus exclusive comes out, but never say a peep about about the Vive exclusives. There are tons of Vive exclusives on Steam.

      • Paulo

        If/when Oculus does allow more HMDs into home, the fanboys will just find the next best thing to hate them for. Oculus is now owned by Facebook, and that by default will ALWAYS stir bad PR.

        It’s unfortunate, but Facebook will grow VR in their own way. The great thing is if you don’t like them, you have options! It’s just too bad these people cant pass on the hate train 😉

        • Bundy

          And yeah Oculus Home needs to fix a lot of issues with its own hardware first. Half the time I try to use it it drops my HMD and I have to reboot my PC. No way it’s ready for other kits.

          • koenshaku

            Sounds like you need to clean it up, cut your losses and pop it on craigslist and get yourself a nice HTC vive while you still can. With the wireless tracking, trackers on your feet and on objects the real home for VR immersion is with HTC Vive ^^

          • Bundy

            No thanks. Perfectly happy with my kit.

          • koenshaku

            Suit yourself don’t break your reboot button. :p

          • Bundy

            Sure thing fanboy

          • Mourz

            Who is the fanboy? I think its the one that sticks with the broken product just to make a point. Not the guy recommending the alternative that isnt plagued with issues.

          • Bundy

            Not plagued with issues, just some hiccups with the home software, fixes on reboot.

            And he wasn’t recommending an alternative, come on.

            Besides my friend has a Vive and has just as many issues with it as I have with my Rift. Neither is perfect.

          • koenshaku

            I absolutely was offering advice. Oculus has announced no new innovations for their HMD and you were complaining and that resonates with a lot of Oculus owners online in forums and on youtube. If I had one I would have personally returned it also. I have zero tracking issues on my vive even when playing boxing games or racket style sports games. A friend of mine runs three HMDs simultaneously on just two lighthouse sensors.

        • NooYawker

          I refuse to become a data bag for FB to siphon off. And I sure as hell will not pay $800 on top of that. I think oculus is a great product, but I’ll never use it as long as FB is running the show.

      • Tako Schotanus

        > There are tons of Vive exclusives on Steam

        1. No there are not, if something is made only for the Vive or the Rift that does *not* make it an exclusive. An exclusive is when something is made for one platform and the devs have said they will never make a version for other platforms (ie everything from Oculus), or at least not for a certain amount of time (timed exclusives from 3rd party devs, ie also Oculus).

        2. No experience made by Valve only works on the Vive, in fact they’ve always made an effort to make things work on every imaginable platform (remember Rift + Razer Hydra).

        3. Basically anything available on Steam can run on the Rift. The store doesn’t make it impossible. If the app/game itself doesn’t support the Rift it’s only because the dev didn’t bother to support it (but that’s not an “exclusive”, see #1)

        4. Many apps/games that are marked as Vive-only are only like that because they were created before the Rift had touch controllers (and even then the store itself doesn’t prevent you from trying, see #2)

        So if you see a difference between how people react to one vs the other, that’s probably because there *is* a difference. One party explicitly closes off their stuff for users from other platforms, while the other party openly embraces all users. And being a user *I* know which behaviour I like most. (And btw, I own both a Rift and a Vive and have been a Oculus kickstarter backer from the beginning. I love the technology they make, just not their business practises).

        • Bundy

          If something is made for only the Vive or the Rift, that absolutely DOES make it an exclusive. Whether it be because the developer says they were paid to make it that way, or they simply cannot be bothered to support both. It doesn’t matter the reason, the title only supports one. Exclusive. You’re just arguing symantics here. I’d love to play Raw Data on my Rift, or the new John Wick game, or both the titles that Google released. But those only support Vive. Whether you want to call it an exclusive or not is besides the point. Only 1 HMD is supported, so I call it an exclusive.

          I don’t like exclusives. From either side. But let’s not pretend Oculus has a monopoly on them.

          • Caven

            The difference there is the developer is making it an exclusive, not Valve. I’m not going to yell at Valve every time a developer decides to make a Vive-only game–especially when the game cannot maintain the same gameplay on a competing platform, such as Raw Data prior to Oculus Touch.

          • Bundy

            I’m not yelling at Valve either. I said there were tons of Vive exclusives on Steam, which is true. Just go to categories and click virtual reality and look at all the titles with only the Vive symbol. There’s a huge number of them. Probably more than all the games in the Oculus Store combined.

          • Tako Schotanus

            Sure, but now look at how many were published *before* Touch support was available. (And include some time for people to receive them and developers to be able to learn how to use them). And I think you’ll see less and less Vive-only in the future now that VR frameworks like VRTK have support for both headsets. And if some devs still do then I wouldn’t understand why, because a) nobody is paying them for exclusives and b) they’s be shutting out part of their potential market and therefore making less money

          • Bundy

            It is heartening that all the major groups are involved in the OpenVR initiative. For the next generation of products I’m hoping these exclusives will vanish.

          • NooYawker

            Oculus pays developers to make exclusive games for them. Valve doesn’t pay anyone to do that, and in fact discourages it. Oculus is trying to create a walled garden, valve is not.
            Now if these 3 games Gabe is talking about only run on the Vive then you have a point.

          • Bundy

            I’m not talking about Valve’s games, I’m talking about the dozens of not hundreds of Vive only titles on Steam.

          • Tako Schotanus

            > I’m talking about the dozens of not hundreds of Vive only titles on Steam.

            Why do you keep repeating that when you already admitted they are probably mostly 1-person indie games that a) didn’t have access to the Rift and b) were made before Touch was available. There’s basically just no payed-for exclusives on Steam.

          • Bundy

            I was just clarifying that I’m not attacking Valve.

          • Tako Schotanus

            > I was just clarifying that I’m not attacking Valve.

            Sure, but by that you seem to suggest by that that others *are* (un)worthy of being attacked. But on what grounds? Where are the double-A and triple-A productions where the devs have said they will never do a Rift version?

          • Bundy

            Not everyone announces that, they just never release it. But this convo is tiresome. So how about we just block each other and move on.

          • Tako Schotanus

            > So how about we just block each other and move on.

            *shrug* I see no reason to block you, but hey, suit yourself.

      • batlacitiachilan

        That’s because the two aren’t really comparable.
        Most “Vive Exclusives” are that way because the developer only developed with Vive compatibility in mind. Many don’t even have a Rift to develop with. There’s no legal hurdle stopping them from adding Oculus support
        When people complain about Oculus exclusives, they’re complaining because the devs signed a contract stating that they won’t develop for Vive.

        • Bundy

          Most are indie, one man shows with probably only 1 kit. I agree. Google seems to have picked a side though. I don’t like exclusives on PC, at all. And I hope that with OpenVR they can end. It’s the mentality of the fanbase on either side that bugs me. This undying love for everything Valve is not good for the industry, their near absolute monopoly in PC game sales is bad.

          • Tako Schotanus

            The Google thing might be explained by the fact often these are experiments by developers or small groups that are not officially supported by the company (except for the fact that they got the go-ahead to spend time on their experiments). I mean, those apps don’t even work on their own Daydream platform! I would expect that the moment they change status to “officially supported” then Google would either support everything or only their own platform.

          • Bundy

            Google can be odd with some of their development. They don’t officially support some of their products, abandon others that are being used, leaving customers out in the cold. They went on a war with Microsoft a few years back, refusing to release any of their apps on Windows Phone, claiming low user base. But then when Microsoft made their own YouTube app, Google lawyered up and made them remove it.

          • koenshaku

            Valve is a monopoly, because everyone all but tried to abandon the PC platform writing it off as a base for pirates. MS even abandoned it when MS gaming zone was popular and even shutdown the age of series RTS games along with it, so yes Valve and Blizzard entertainment are champions of PC gaming. FB spent a lot of money on Oculus and I can see why they are trying to strong arm the market by throwing more money at it, but it is just to their detriment.

      • Nicholas

        Nonsense. The only major VR application on Steam that I know of that actively blocks the Rift out of the box is Google Earth.

        If a developer has not tagged an application for the Rift, it’s usually because they simply have not tested or optimized it for that platform and not because it’s a “Vive exclusive”. Steam tries to act as an open platform for developers to sell stuff rather than being protectionist assholes.

    • Tako Schotanus

      > Oculus are doing what is necessary to survive against the gorilla that is steam.

      People keep repeating that but that’s no reason to lock out other headsets. If Valve can do it with a smaller team with less funds Oculus should be able too. But they specifically want their store to be exclusive for their hardware, thereby blocking out a very large part of potential customers. That’s not doing “what is necessary to survive”, that’s hoping they can dominate the market. And that’s not something that I, as a consumer, am looking forward to.

      • Paulo

        Thats one way to look at it for sure. And its a valid thought.

        Oculus is unofficially supporting ReVive right now. Games that should always be free (for touch owners) are priced in the store. Why would they do this if everyone who can use it will automatically have it?

        There are more reasons to them not supporting other headsets right now than ‘trying to dominate the market’. Their paying customers are waiting for their tracking to be rock solid with Touch, as it has been with the HMD for almost a year now. I think that kind of stuff should take priority.

      • koenshaku

        I couldn’t agree more. I considered using revive then I thought better of it. I will just let them take the losses on their exclusives until they see the reason of why people prefer a platform agnostic service.

      • Kalle

        Just a thought, how do you know that Valve for example have no demands whatsoever if Oculus would like to implement OpenVR (strange name when it’s not really Open) in Oculus Home? We don’t know about business that’s happening in the background.

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      Steam a Gorilla??? maybe, but what is FACEBOOK then????????

      • Anthony Clay

        King Kong

  • Judotoss

    Who does an interview with Gabe and doesn’t talk about the 3 eliphants in the room?

  • NooYawker

    Interviewing Gabes is like talking to that seer on Vikings. All mysteries and not a single straight answer. Pointless and annoying.

  • Scott C

    So Valve is making 3 games, and is excited to work on new hardware that complements them.

    So given Valve’s track record on delays for games, how many years before we see this new hardware?

  • Scott C

    “House scale” sounds like a huge disappointment. There are two routes it’ll take: either adapting the game environment to accommodate the layout of your house, or requiring your floorplan to be compatible with the game in some way.

    #2 sounds grossly expensive, but should be right up the alley of all the people scoffing at the arguments defending rug-scale on Oculus.

    #1 sounds like a design nightmare if you want a balanced and consistent game experience from player to player (or more accurately, house to house).

    Actually, now that I think about it, #2 makes a lot of sense if you’re targeting commercial VR experiences, like VR arcades and corporate applications.

    • Tako Schotanus

      Perhaps it’s not really meant for games. Or perhaps it’s just to a way to say that it won’t matter anymore exactly *where* you are (like the chaperone automatically adapting to the available space). Or perhaps it’s a step towards AR in the future. Who knows 😉

  • VR Geek

    Valve is so on point. Wonder is Michael Abrash is regretting his move to Oculus’s sinking corporate ship?

  • Not_Amused

    HL3 Confirmed!