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Play Non-VR Games With SteamVR Desktop Theater

Are you sold on VR yet? While there are a few upcoming games I think look spectacular – such as Universe Sandbox 2 – not to mention a few that I’ve played and have enjoyed, I’m not completely there yet myself. Valve’s in-development SteamVR Desktop Theatre Mode isn’t quite the golden ticket to bypassing my skepticism, however it does seem pretty interesting. Essentially, it’s a virtual theater that lets you play standard, non-VR games on an enlarged, encompassing display.

While we don’t know what the SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode looks like just yet, Valve have announced plans to show it off using the HTC Vive at some point during the Games Developers Conference in San Francisco this week. It’s in its beta testing phase at the moment, and will let you play games that don’t have VR support on SteamVR-compatible headsets. The Vive is the only device named at this stage, however a press release stated “others” are adaptable too, therefore the Oculus Rift is most likely a safe bet.

It sounds neat, however it’s worth noting that no matter how well, or how comfortably, the SteamVR Desktop Theater manages to display games that aren’t built purposefully for VR, they won’t magically become virtual reality games when played via a VR headset. Then again, assuming it’s not too much strain on the eyes, playing through the entirety of our Steam libraries in shut off virtual environments akin to home cinemas/The Matrix sounds really cool, if a little anti-social. Then again, again, once we’ve splashed out for VR we’ll be skint and housebound anyway. I’m sure our mates will understand.

If, like me, you’re still on the fence with VR, you might want to consult Jeremy’s rundown which explores whether or not your current PC can handle the upgrade. You might also like to visit Alec’s Rift versus Vive post this-a-way.

I’m sure you caught Graham’s post yesterday, however this year’s GDC seems to be focused on virtual reality. You can read all of our GDC 2016 news here as it arrives, which will include more on SteamVR Desktop Theater Mode as soon as it drops. And you can, of course, try the HTC Vive for yourself at this year’s EGX Rezzed.

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Joe Donnelly

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