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Valve gives Oculus Rift a whirl with SteamVR mode

Developer tool allows support for headsets

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Valve is trialing support for the Oculus Rift in its Steam platform.

The company told developers that a new mode in the Steam Client Beta tool will allow for the addition of support for the virtual reality headsets.

Dubbed SteamVR, the navigation mode will allow users to run the Steam interface with their dev kit Oculus Rift units. The mode is available through the latest beta release of SteamVR and is accessed through the Steam command line.

The update is being classified by Valve developers as "experimental" and the company is asking developers and beta users to provide early feedback.

The backing of the Steam platform could prove vital in the coming years when the Oculus Rift looks to enter the consumer hardware space. Since its initial launch as a PC games channel, the Steam service has expanded to the major desktop, mobile and console platforms as a gaming channel and download service.

Though the Oculus Rift VR headset remains in its early developer phases, the device is generating no shortage of buzz in the gaming community as developers and consumers alike are anticipating the possible applications of a working virtual reality headset.

Further building speculation about the Oculus Rift as a gaming platform has been Oculus' appointment of games legend John Carmack to the company's executive team. The former id Software boss was appointed chief technology officer at Oculus late last year.

At this year's CES conference in Las Vegas the company debuted Crystal Cove, an experimental headset which offers support for full 1080p graphics. Early reviews suggest that the new models sport a smoother presentation and movement which could help to alleviate some of the physical side-effects (nausea, headaches) which early testers of the original Oculus Rift hardware reported.

Oculus could also see competition in the VR gaming market for developers with connections to Steam's parent company. A pair of former Valve engineers recently pitched their own challenger to the Oculus Rift with the CastAR projector system. ®

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