Valve is shipping the cutting-edge “Pre” model of the HTC Vive VR headset to more developers around the world, the company announced in a brief post on its Steam Community blog. Every developer currently working on the previous version of Vive should have received an email containing instructions detailing how their kit can be upgraded to the Pre. HTC previously said it would start the year distributing 7,000 units to developers.
The Pre is a newer and more advanced version of the Vive’s Developer Edition headset. First released in secret to a handful of devs who prepared content for the headset’s public debut early last year, the kit was opened to a wider selection of devs throughout 2015. By obtaining this new model, first shown publicly at CES this January, devs will be able to begin creating experiences that take advantage of the Pre’s front-facing camera. The camera can offer a sense of safety to people inside a VR experience, showing them their surroundings and allowing natural interaction with people in the room. Developers might find more uses for the technology once it is in more hands — potentially even mixed reality experiences that combine the physical and digital world.
Some developers had the Pre in their studios since CES this year. Time is money for, Valve, HTC, and these development studios though. Creators need time with these headsets to make quality experiences and every day before launch counts. The first testing ground for Vive’s popularity will be on February 29 when pre-ordering for the system officially goes live. The device is said to ship in April. Oculus Rift, Vive’s direct competitor, already experienced a successful round or pre-orders in January despite the eyebrow-raising announcement of a $600 base price for the headset. Despite the high price, demand for the system created an immediate shipping queue pushing many customer’s shipping dates further into the year.
We still don’t know Vive’s price but got a good look at some of the launch titles in Seattle. We’ll bring you more information as soon as we hear it.