Next week, Valve will release a software development kit that gives developers a standard way to implement controls in VR games, the BBC reports. Valve designer Brian Coomer has apparently said that the kit is "days away" and will be released at Steam Dev Days, which start on January 15th. There's not much more detail given, but the company has already said it plans to reveal a prototype that will show "what affordable Virtual Reality (VR) hardware will be capable of within a couple of years." Valve has previously worked in partnership with Oculus, whose latest VR headset — a prototype known as Crystal Cove — was announced at CES.
Valve is well-positioned to support virtual reality
The controller development kit will reportedly come as part of the larger set of software tools for Steam Machines, about a dozen of which have also been revealed this week. Valve has made itself a link between manufacturers and developers, creating a platform that ensures compatibility across a variety of hardware, and it's well-positioned to do the same for virtual reality controllers, which range from simple gamepads to elaborate circular treadmills. "We've been talking to Oculus pretty extensively... about how we can help them with Steam," Valve told us last year.
While Oculus is the only company to have released a non-prototype headset so far, Valve may also end up dealing with other competitors who have developed their own VR hardware: Sony, for instance, is rumored to be working on some. With Rift development in very early stages and hardware already fragmented, this could make a central development kit from a huge player like Valve even more vital, as game designers would be looking to work across not just different controllers but different virtual reality systems.