Valve is bringing the Steam Deck’s user interface to VR headsets.
A booklet put together by Valve to mark Steam Deck’s availability in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong indicates VR headsets using Steam will “soon” have Steam Deck’s user interface.
“Soon, the Steam Deck user interface will be available on PCs that are connected to a TV, and in VR,” the booklet mentions.
PC-powered VR headsets today generally use Valve’s SteamVR as a device-agnostic software platform for accessing games and settings. SteamVR’s interface has evolved slowly compared to something like the monthly release schedule for Meta’s Quest headset. The system’s last major interface revamp was in 2020 with the ability to pin windows to a controller added in 2021. This latest hint from Valve may indicate the company is moving closer to another big revamp of SteamVR for existing PC-based VR headsets, but it will likely form the foundation of the reported “Deckard” standalone as well. Code findings, patents, and even comments from Valve employees all point to the idea that Valve could use groundwork laid with Steam Deck as the foundation for a standalone VR headset.
The document released by Valve also serves as an outline of Valve’s technologies and history. Not only does the document chart Bellevue-based Valve’s evolution from a game development company to the proprietor of the dominant global games marketplace as well as a hardware maker, the booklet also highlights the technologies Valve worked on. Proton, for example, “allows Windows games to be played on Linux devices”, essentially freeing some gamers to dump their dependence on Microsoft’s Windows if they choose. Valve’s work on virtual reality also helped launch VR’s modern consumer resurgence, teaming with HTC for the original Vive in 2016 which brought room-scale hand-controlled VR to buyers before Facebook’s Oculus Rift. In 2019, the company launched Valve Index at the high end of the consumer PC VR market and the $1,000 PC-powered kit is still a perennial top seller on Steam alongside the more recent $399-and-up Steam Deck handheld PC.
“This is a multi-generational product line,” the document states about Steam Deck. “Valve will support Steam Deck and SteamOS well into the foreseeable future. We will learn from the Steam community about new uses for our hardware that we haven’t thought of yet, and we will build new versions to be even more open and capable than the first version of Steam Deck has been.”
While Valve is a large company in terms of revenue generated it is also privately-managed with an employee count in the hundreds. This sees Valve generally quiet in public while choosing its partners carefully until enormous public releases scheduled on “Valve Time“.