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Valve showing off new virtual reality hardware and updated Steam controller next week

Valve showing off new virtual reality hardware and updated Steam controller next week

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Valve is gearing up to announce a range of new hardware at the upcoming Game Developers Conference in early March. The developer said today that it is planning to show off the final version of its Steam Controller, new "living room devices," and a previously-unannounced virtual reality system called SteamVR at the event, scheduled to take place between March 2nd and 6th.

Steam controllers were delayed to 2015 after feedback

Details about all the new hardware are thin at the moment — we'll know more when The Verge heads to GDC next week — but we've seen several versions of the Steam controller already. The device, designed for use with Steam's living room-friendly Big Picture mode, has been through several iterations since it was first announced in September 2013. After removing a touted touchscreen function to save costs and rearranging the button placement, Valve delayed the controller's launch until 2015, saying that it was using "a ton of feedback" to make the device "a lot better."

Steam Machines — packaged Linux-based PCs that use Valve's SteamOS operating system — have also had a slow start. Valve pitched the machines as the vanguard of its attack on the living room, but a scheduled 2014 launch for the operating system and the full range of PCs turned into 2015. A number of third-party Steam Machine-esque devices launched last year without SteamOS, but they haven't yet displaced Sony and Microsoft's consoles for space under the TV just yet. Perhaps notably, Valve did not specifically say it was revealing new Steam Machines at GDC, preferring instead to use the tag "living room devices." It's possible the company could be showing more third-party Steam Machines, its own in-house version of the small-form PC, or something else entirely.

Valve has yet to confirm whether its VR headset will see commercial release

But it's Valve's previously-unseen virtual reality hardware that's the most interesting of its planned GDC offerings. The company has supported other VR industry players — it worked closely with Oculus to integrate the Rift headset with its Steam download platform — but it's widely known that it has been focused on creating on its own VR system for some time now after reportedly shelving plans to develop augmented reality (AR) devices in 2012.

Valve let a small group of developers and VR enthusiasts play with a prototype of its virtual reality headset last year. The early model could track head movements, and used Valve's own games, including Dota 2, to demonstrate its capabilities, but the company did not specify whether it was planning a commercial release. Valve is only offering its GDC demonstration to developers, publishers, and selected media, and still hasn't confirmed whether its headset will ever see market, but the first public announcement of its SteamVR system suggests that Valve may soon officially join Sony, Oculus, and Samsung in the growing virtual reality industry.