All posts in “Valve”

A Valve VR headset will finally be real

Valve Corporation’s VR headset, Valve Index, will officially launch in May 2019. The previously rumored launch was confirmed with a teaser on Friday with more details forthcoming.

Per earlier rumors, the Valve Index should have a 135-degree field of view and knuckles controllers. It’s also likely that the tracking will be “inside out” (sensors inside the headset, as opposed to previous generations of Vive and Oculus, which used external sensor stations to track movement). 

Valve is a company that can be cautious with specific ventures, so its foray into second-gen VR speaks to how far the technology has come and Valve’s faith in this product. Valve Index will have to compete with Vive and Oculus products of the same generation, so expect it to be able to hold its own.

h/t ArsTechnica

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Valve lets you stream Steam games from anywhere

Valve doesn’t want to miss the cloud gaming bandwagon. As PC Gamer spotted, The company quietly released a beta version of Steam Link Anywhere. As the name suggests, it lets you turn your gaming PC into a cloud gaming server and stream games from… anywhere.

The company’s strategy is a bit puzzling here as Valve recently discontinued its hardware set-top box, the Steam Link. While Valve might be done on the hardware side, the company is still iterating on Steam Link apps.

You can now download the Steam Link app on an Android phone, an Android TV device or a Raspberry Pi. Unfortunately, Valve still hasn’t found a way to release its Steam Link app on the App Store for iOS devices and the Apple TV. You can start Steam on your computer and play demanding PC games on other screens.

Steam Link works fine on a local network, especially if you use Ethernet cables between all your devices. With Steam Link Anywhere, your performance will vary depending on your home internet connection. If you don’t have a fiber connection at home, the latency might simply be too high to play any game.

Now let’s see if Valve plans to flip the switch and let you run Steam games on a server in a data center near you. That would turn Steam Link Anywhere into a Shadow competitor.

Microsoft recently showed off Forza Horizon 4 running on an Android phone thanks to Project xCloud. Google has also been teasing its Game Developers Conference to learn more about its gaming projects. It’s clear that everybody wants to turn 2019 into the year of cloud gaming.

Steam no longer accepting Bitcoin as payment, because it’s too volatile

Bitcoin's volatility is giving retailers a headache.
Bitcoin’s volatility is giving retailers a headache.

Image: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The rise and rise of Bitcoin might make some people richer, but it’s been a headache for companies that accept it.

Steam, the gaming digital distribution service owned by Valve, will no longer take Bitcoin as a form of payment. 

In a blog post on Wednesday, Valve explained the decision was made due to the “high fees and volatility” in the value of the cryptocurrency in recent months. 

According to the company, transaction fees that were 20 cents when they first enabled the cryptocurrency in April 2016 have skyrocketed to as much as $20.

Bitcoin’s network is struggling to keep up with the number of transactions that are being processed, pushing up transaction fees as miners prioritize transactions which pay a higher fee. 

Then there’s of course the extremely unpredictable value of Bitcoin itself. In case you haven’t noticed, it broke the $13,000 barrier on Wednesday, but has seen dramatic drops in value, as we saw last week.

Steam customers who use Bitcoin pay for the cost of the game, as well as the transaction fee charged by the network — but the processing time for the cryptocurrency has created a problem.

“At this point, it has become untenable to support Bitcoin as a payment option.”

“The value of Bitcoin is only guaranteed for a certain period of time so if the transaction doesn’t complete within that window of time, then the amount of Bitcoin needed to cover the transaction can change. The amount it can change has been increasing recently to a point where it can be significantly different,” the blog post reads.

It means the company has to either refund the original payment to the customer, or ask for more funds to cover the outstanding balance. 

Both situations mean the customer is again hit by the Bitcoin transaction fee, and the company said it’s seen an increase in users falling into that predicament — resulting in underpayment.

“At this point, it has become untenable to support Bitcoin as a payment option. We may re-evaluate whether Bitcoin makes sense for us and for the Steam community at a later date,” the post adds.

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Valve is producing new lenses to improve existing VR headsets

Image: B. Tongo/Epa/REX/Shutterstock

Valve is here to make virtual reality better with new lenses that will work with a handful of virtual reality headsets.

Valve, the developers of Steam and partners that helped make the HTC Vive VR headset a reality, revealed new lenses for SteamVR-compatible headsets in a press release obtained by Upload VR Monday. 

The lenses improve VR experiences on both OLED and LCD headsets. Hardware developers will be able to augment their headsets with them with the help of accompanying calibration and manufacturing tools.

In the press release, Valve doesn’t specify exactly which headsets the lenses will be compatible with (although it’s pretty likely they’d work with the HTC Vive considering they helped make it), but they shed a little light on exactly what kind of improvements the lenses will bring:

The lenses, which are designed to support the next generation of room-scale virtual reality, optimize the user’s perceived tracking experience and image sharpness while reducing stray light. Valve is including the custom lens calibration and correction software within the SteamVR technology suite. 

Basically, the lenses will make everything look better and move more smoothly, which is really all we can ask for.

Valve didn’t specifically mention whether the lenses would be available to purchase commercially for headset owners to upgrade their own headsets, and has not responded to a request for clarification.

At the very least, the lenses will be available to Steam partners and people who have SteamVR Tracking licenses (which you can apply to get through the SteamVR partner website). The licenses are free, you just have to buy or supply your own headset for testing and tinkering.

This is part of a larger move from Valve to make better VR experiences more accessible to more users and developers. Earlier this year, Valve partnered with Microsoft to allow Steam games to run on its mixed reality headsets, and Valve gives developers free reference to its design for the Watchman tracking module. 

With this semi-free flow of ideas and hardware, VR may make some pretty big strides in terms of quality in the coming years.

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