Valve explains changes to how VR support appears on Steam pages

Earlier this month, Valve changed the longstanding format for displaying supported VR headsets on a game’s Steam Store page. The company says the change was made to “keep up with the growing market for virtual reality”.

Earlier this month, some people were alarmed that the “VR Support” section on the right side of a game’s Steam store page – which showed supported headsets and playspaces a game – had been removed, apparently leaving only “Tracked Motion Controller Support”. to indicate that an application supports virtual reality.

As Valve says On the way to virtual realityhowever, the information wasn’t removed, just rearranged and simplified, and it seems like it took a little while for the changes to proliferate properly on store pages.

“We decided to organize things a little differently because we found that the old system didn’t keep up with the growing VR market very well,” a Valve spokesperson told us. “You can now find this information in the system requirements. We’ve also added flags for VR only, VR supported, and tracked motion controllers in the Features section. The changes are also intended to give developers more control and flexibility.

So now, instead of a game listing all supported VR headsets and/or platforms on the right side of the page, developers can choose to display “VR only” or “VR supported”. Meanwhile, further down in the System Requirements section, developers can also specify which headsets or playspaces are supported under the “VR Support” prefix.

Looking at several examples shows how it works in practice.

Half-Life: Alyx, for example, lists “VR only” and “Tracking controller support” on the right side of the page (and still prominently includes a notice that the game requires a VR headset). In its system requirements, we see “VR Support: SteamVR”, indicating that the game claims support for all SteamVR headsets.

Dirt Rally 2 uses “VR Supported” on the right side of the page, and under System Requirements we see “VR Support: SteamVR or Oculus PC” (indicating that the game supports both native SteamVR and Oculus PC runtimes ). In particular the game does do not list “Tracked Controller Support” on the right side, which means players cannot use VR controllers with the game but must use another input like a traditional keyboard or controller instead.

While we don’t know exactly why Valve decided to change this long-standing system, the reasons they gave make sense from the outside. The previous system confusingly listed some specific headsets (eg: “Valve Index”, “Oculus Rift”, and “HTC Vive”) grouped together alongside an entire platform of headsets (eg: “Windows Mixed Reality”) , while ignoring more modern headsets like those from Pico or Pimax. Making this change streamlines things for Valve which would otherwise have to track and add all new SteamVR headsets as they hit the market.

Additionally, the distinction between “standing” and “room-scale” play space sizes has become much less important over the years; very few games require a room-scale space, although most technically support it. This left the old “Game Space” section of the store page as a useless remnant (except for games that Alone supports “sitting” play).

That said, there’s no doubt that change seems to come out of nowhere. And with Valve’s seemingly minimal interest in virtual reality over the past few years, it raises questions as to “why now?”

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