Valve’s Vive VR Headset Will Be Free To Qualifying Developers

29 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

HTC Vive Developer Edition will be free to developers “big or small” says Valve.

HTC and Valve are being pretty aggressive with their VR headset timing — the recently announced Vive headset is supposed to be available to consumers by the end of the year.In an effort to help jumpstart launch projects for the HTC Vive, Valve have announced that they plan to giveaway the virtual reality headset for free to qualified developers.

Valve is continuing its campaign to Make VR Happen by lowering the entry barrier for developers hoping to make games for the platform of the future: it will be making a Developer Edition of the Vive headset free to qualifying developers. So far, only a few studios have been given access to the hardware – Owlchemy Labs, Bossa Studios, Fireproof Games and Cloudhead Games – but Valve will be taking sign-ups for more soon. After the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and Sony’s own Project Morpheus both took initial strides into the world of commercially-viable VR, two more major players revealed themselves. Good news: it’s going to be free, “at least initially.” Bad (or at least worse) news: prospective developers can only get them by applying online, and we don’t know how many will make the cut.

Doug Lombardi told Ars Technica that it will consider extending the deal to studios “big and small”, and hopes to have a website open for taking applications this week. Valve spokesperson Doug Lombardi said the company plans to reveal more information as well as sign-up forms on a new site perhaps as early as this coming week. Valve announced the Vive this month, in partnership with smartphone manufacturer HTC, whilst Microsoft’s HoloLens will attempt to hybridize augmented reality and VR. Total speculation here, but maybe the first set of dev kits will be offered on a loaner program for a set length of time and if the developer wants to keep it, then they might have to pay up. Oculus has promised that the Facebook takeover will allow a substantially lower price point for the consumer model of the Rift, with recent suggestions of a price of $200-$400, whilst the Morpheus will aim to impress with 120 FPS.

The spokesperson added that developers both large and small will be considered although exactly what criteria will be used to narrow down recipients wasn’t mentioned. Valve’s SteamVR page points out that developer kits will come with a headset, two single-handed controllers and two base stations which is everything needed to start creating virtual reality experiences. Oculus sent its very first units to Kickstarter backers, and anyone can pay $350 for a development kit on its site, although non-developers are discouraged from doing so. Last week, HTC’s Executive Director of Global Marketing, Jeff Gattis, spoke with Ars Technica about the device’s pricing and admitted that the Vive might be a little more spendy.

With controllers and a laser tracking system, there’s a lot more to Vive than the headset, so a widely available development kit could cost quite a bit more than the Rift. And while Oculus hasn’t announced a consumer edition of its Rift, Valve and HTC are promising something within the next eight months — letting anyone pay for a semi-finished product when a final one is within sight might not make much sense. Although Sony has not been as open with kits as Oculus, the tech giant has yet to adopt a free distribution policy, in spite of the Morpheus team’s attempts to attract independent developers to the device. The fact that these VR devices will hit the market sometime this year is exciting. technology has been stuck in a rut for decades, and even the most promising devices weren’t particularly fun or user friendly.

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