Valve has announced that it has started sending out Developer Editions of the Vive headset to select developers. Those receiving the first batch of devices range from movie studios and AAA game developers to indie teams. Although this initial roll out is limited, Valve will continue to ship the devices to more developers over the Spring and Summer.
The Vive Developer Edition includes: the headset, two Lighthouse base stations, two wireless Steam VR Controllers, a mix of cables/connectors and instructions. The goal is to get developers ready for the Vive’s launch which is rumoured to be this November. This would line up with the release of the first Steam Machines and the Steam Controller.
A lot has been made of the HTC-made Vive headset since it was unveiled earlier this year. Although there are several VR products already in development, most notably the Oculus Rift, Valve’s offering is notable for its use of proprietary controllers and base stations called Lighthouse. The VR Controllers use a mix of standard face buttons, triggers and trackpad’s similar to the Steam Controller.
The base stations, dubbed Lighthouse, are used to track the players position. Two base stations are placed at certain points within the play space, which varies depending on the game being played, and the player stays within this space. The base stations also help with tracking the VR Controllers and the headset, to help keep virtual movements accurate to their real world counterparts.
There has so far been no word on pricing for the Vive headset, nor for that matter the VR Controllers or Lighthouse base stations. There has also been no confirmation on if HTC will be the only hardware provider for SteamVR, or if Valve will allow other manufacturers to create headsets for the platform.
With the Oculus Rift expected to launch in Spring 2016, it will be interesting to see if Valve manage to get to market before them and, more importantly, if SteamVR will turn out to be the better virtual reality experience.