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Valve Confirms First-Party VR Headset Titled Valve Index, Launches May 2019

PAX East 2019 brought with it some exciting news, and the world of virtual reality no doubt sees this news as the biggest in quite some time. Valve has finally made good on their promises from yesteryear, bringing in personnel to work on both the hardware and software side of the VR market. We first saw a hint of this via a prototype VR HMD late last year, with leaked specs confirming it was Valve's own design going beyond the established competition at the time from HTC Vive and Oculus. Since then, the Vive Pro has come out with an even higher-end version using eye-tracking to target prosumers initially, and also showcasing foveated rendering that will no doubt herald VR getting more mainstream and allowing for a higher graphical fidelity as well.

The so-called Valve Index has been listed on Steam now, with no other information to see than from the image below. We know it is coming in a couple of months, perhaps even during Computex although it is unlikely. It certainly looks similar to the prototype HMD, and presumably retains the 135° field-of-view and 2,880 x 1,600 total resolution. No mention of the Steam Knuckles controller here, but that is no surprise for a teaser. What we can tell is the headset has a physical slider, presumably to assist with pupillary distance calibration, as well as fairly large lenses that extend outwards which may assist with IR-based tracking. There is no mention of HTC anywhere here, and it would be right up Valve's alley to introduce this at a relatively affordable price point to then make up on software and distribution (savings via Steam) instead. Perhaps we will see the long-rumored Half Life VR as a launch title? Time will tell, and this may well be the big boost to gaming VR that is sorely needed.

Oculus Announces the Rift S Headset for $399, Developed in Partnership With Lenovo

Oculus today announced an improvement to their original Rift headset, the Oculus Rift S. The new headset from oculus builds upon advances in their view of a VR experience, as well as from learnings acquired through the development of the original Rift, the smartphone-only Oculus Go, and the standalone Oculus Quest, to deliver the new, ultimate VR experience in the Oculus field.

The Oculus S features improved panels with a 2560x1440 resolution (just like the Oculus GO), offering 40% more pixels and improving the pixel subsystem with groupings of three instead of two. It also features Oculus Quest's Inside-Out tracking capabilities, with five cameras instead of the Quests' four, alongside redesigned controllers.

2018 Was the Year of VR Headsets - Except it Wasn't, According to Steam Hardware Survey

Steam, being the most widely used games platform for the PC ecosystem, has proven weight on current hardware employed by gamers. While not wholly representative, let's just say it caters to enough of the PC gaming population that we can infer some broad strokes of the current state of the market. And for all the hailing for a newcoming of VR in 2018, it would seem that happened, with a doubling of the attachment rate for VR headsets on Steam's hardware surveys. If we're only speaking relatively, that is.

More interesting and important than the "doubling" in VR headset attachment rate to Steam's user's is the fact that this only increased said attachment rate to around 0.8% of Steam's user base. Of these 0.8%, 0.37% of Steam users who took part in the December survey carry an Oculus Rift, with HTC Vive close behind at 0.33%. The overall increase in usage for each of these headsets was 85% and 65% throughout 2018, respectively - still definitely a far cry from the kind of market penetration that was expected of this latest generation of VR. As for Windows Mixed Reality products? They make-up 0.07% of the Steam survey's results.

The ZeniMax-Oculus Odyssey is Over - Facebook Settles the Dispute For Undisclosed Sum

Remember the lawsuit ZeniMax threw Oculus' way? Well, that seems to be settled now, after a back and forward that always saw Oculus (even after the Facebook acquisition) having to pay damages to ZeniMax - at first, $500 million, which was then reduced to $250 million.

Now, the litigation seems to have come to an end, as CNBC reports that ZeniMax's CEO has acknowledged that a settlement was reached. The terms of the settlement were undisclosed (and so was the sum that Facebook definitely had to pay ZeniMax), but CNBC got a statement from the ZeniMax CEO Robert Altman that read: "We are pleased that a settlement has been reached and are fully satisfied by the outcome. While we dislike litigation, we will always vigorously defend against any infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property by third parties." While ZeniMax says they are fully satisfied with the outcome, it's certainly a far cry from the original up to $4 billion and Oculus sales being blocked that the company was after in the initial terms of the lawsuit.

Valve Seemingly Preparing Their Own VR Headset; Hints Point to Half Life VR Bundle

In June 2016 Valve announced 'Destinations', a Steam workshop not easy to find anymore, that allowed the end user to enter real and fictitious scenarios through the magic of virtual reality. The idea was intriguing, but the media was not completely sold and judged Valve's proposal as both "the best and the worst of VR". From all this, however, came a singular discovery: those who reverse-engineered its code discovered in it the HLVR acronym, which initiated a wide debate about the potential appearance of a Half Life VR (HLVR) version specifically developed for VR headsets.

Lending further credence to this hypothesis was Gabe Newell's announcement in February 2017 that Valve was preparing three big titles for virtual reality- two of them based on Source 2, and one of them based on Unity. More such signs appeared in the summer of 2018, and everything was pointing towards this project being indeed real, that it would likely be based on Source 2, and that it would offer a full-fledged blockbuster title that this generation of VR has been desperately seeking. We now have more data courtesy a "leaked email" to Reddit user 2flock that suggests Valve's work is apparently going beyond just VR game development, as images of a prototype device seen below confirm that Valve is also working on its own VR head-mounted display (HMD), one whose development would also be more advanced than initially suspected.

Brendan Iribe Oculus VR Co-Founder Leaves Company

Brendan Iribe, a co-founder of Oculus VR, has announced that he will be leaving the company today in a Facebook post. Having been with the company since its inception in July of 2012, he is now moving on after in his own words "six incredible years." Having been a part of the initial VR push with the Oculus Rift, he has left an indelible mark on an industry that is still growing into its own today.

Calling his tenure at Oculus and Facebook a "transformative experience" Iribe was thankful to the people around him including his team that has been a part of his journey thus far. However, after 20 years he considers now a good time to take a break and "to recharge, reflect and be creative." Even so, it will be interesting to see what he does next, considering he has already co-founded a previous company, Scaleform that was bought by Autodesk in 2011 and then worked for Gaikai before the Sony acquisition in 2012. With a track record in tech that spans multiple industries, it likely won't be long before Iribe is working on the next big thing.

CCP Says They Expected the VR Market to Boom Much Sooner

CCP, makers of the legendary EVE Online, made quite a substantial push for VR in the coming of age of Oculus' Rift and HTC's Vive products in the form of EVE: Valkyrie. The game was fully developed by CCP's Newcastle studio with VR systems in mind (including the PS4's), but failed to... sound off quite as much as the developer wanted it to. During last weekend's EVE Vegas FanFest, CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson told Destructoid that the company expected VR to become bigger, faster, than it ever did, with utilization rates being way below the marketed attachment rates and sales of VR headsets.

"We expected VR to be two to three times as big as it was, period. You can't build a business on that.", said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson "If it does take off, and I mean if, we'll re-assess. The important thing is we need to see the metrics for active users of VR. A lot of people bought headsets just to try it out. How many of those people are active? We found that in terms of our data, a lot of users weren't. May of last year (2017) is when we started to figure it out. Was it a surprise? Maybe. But the picture was filling in that there would not be a way to continue with VR as heavily as we were. No regrets. It was right to stop, and it was right to start. I remain a long-term believer of VR." Perhaps things will turn around with subsequent generations of more affordable VR headsets, such as Oculus' Quest, but... It might take some time and slow iteration.

A New Standalone VR Headset in Town: Oculus Quest Will Cost $399, Arrives In Spring 2019

Standalones headsets are the new flavor of the VR town this side of 2018. They bring a sorely needed dimension to this segment, allowing users to enjoy some VR experiences that are near what the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive offer, but with a much more palatable price and format. The ability to not be tethered also means being able to experience room-scale VR without having your lizard brain worry about tripping on cables either. This brings us to the Oculus Quest that was launched this week at the Oculus Connect 5 developer conference, just a couple of years after the debut of Project Santa Cruz that has finally culminated in a retail product.

The new wireless, standalone headset goes beyond what Oculus Go went to when announced earlier this year. Based on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (Oculus Go was based on a Snapdragon 821) and offering 64 GB of integrated storage, the Oculus Quest offers 1600x1440 resolution per eye and has full six degrees of freedom (6DOF) support versus the three degrees on the Oculus Go. The headset will be available in spring of next year for $399, and more details can be seen past the break.

IDC - Despite Sharp Decline in VR Headset Shipments in Q2 2018, Market Outlook Remains Positive

Worldwide shipments of virtual reality (VR) headsets were down 33.7% year over year in the second quarter of 2018 (2Q18), according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker. IDC expects this to be a temporary setback as the VR market finds its legs. The arrival of new products, such as the Oculus Go and HTC Vive Pro, and new brands, combined with the need for greater headset fidelity all point to a positive outlook for the quarters ahead.

Screenless viewers brought a lot of attention to VR in the early days as the entire market was artificially propped up by brands like Samsung, Alcatel, and Google that bundled the headsets with smartphones. However, since then, the screenless viewer category has declined substantially, shrinking from 1 million headsets in 2Q17 to 409,000 in 2Q18. This category was the largest contributor to the decline in shipments for the overall VR headset market.

Raja Hires Larrabee Architect Tom Forsyth to Help With Intel GPU

A few months ago we reported that Raja Koduri has left AMD to work at Intel on their new discrete GPU project. Looks like he's building a strong team, with the most recent addition being Tom Forsyth who is the father of Larrabee, which was Intel's first attempt at making an x86-based graphics processor. While Larrabee did not achieve its goal and is considered a failure by many, it brought some interesting improvements to the world, for example AVX512, and is now sold under the Xeon Phi brand.

Tom, who has previously worked at Oculus, Valve, and 3DLabs posted on Twitter that he's joining Intel in Raja's group, but he's "Not entirely sure what he'll be working on just yet." At Oculus and Valve he worked on Virtual Reality projects, for example he wrote big chunks of the Team Fortress 2 VR support for the Oculus Rift. Taking a look at Tom's papers suggests that he might join the Intel team as lead for VR-related projects, as that's without a doubt one of Raja's favorite topics to talk about.

Oculus Go VR Headset Now Available Starting at $199

Facebook has announced that their Oculus Go portable VR headset is now available in 23 different countries at oculus.com, Amazon, Best Buy, and Newegg. The headset features a cordless design which means that it doesn't need to be connected to a PC or smartphone to function. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, the Oculus Go boasts a fast-switch LCD display with a 2560 x 1440 WQHD resolution and a pixel density of 538 ppi. The headset is designed to be worn by consumers with or without glasses. However, consumers can purchase compatible VirtuClear prescription lenses and insert them directly into the Oculus Go. The headset also comes with built-in spatial audio and an integrated microphone for communication. The unit is shipped with over 1000 VR games, social applications, and 360° experiences for users to experience. The Oculus Go starts at $199 USD for the 32 GB model and $249 USD for the 64 GB model.

Party with Your PC and PSVR Buddies in SportsBar VR 2.0

VR development specialists Perilous Orbit and Cherry Pop Games announced today that a huge new update for SportsBar VR is now available for download. SportsBar VR 2.0 offers cross-play support for Steam, Oculus Home, and Sony's PlayStationVR platforms, along with new features and gameplay modes. Pool, darts, air hockey and more are all part of the experience, along with some "less than standard" games, like epic trick shots, bottle throwing contests, and other sorts of unique VR-themed fun in an environment where nobody gets hurt and nobody has to clean up!

Sports Bar VR was the first VR title to reach Steam's Global Top 10, reach Sony's top ten PSVR sellers list, score an unprecedented 97% rating on Steam, and 2.0 is going to bring even more of what those fans loved! To celebrate the launch, Sports Bar VR 2.0 is on sale on for a limited time on PC platforms and is a free update to existing users on all platforms.

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.11.4 Drivers

AMD today put out its fourth Radeon Software release of the month, the Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.11.4 Beta. These drivers come with optimization for "Doom" VFR, and Oculus Dash Open Beta. The drivers fix an issue with certain levels of HBCC size adjustments causing system instability on machines with Radeon RX Vega series graphics cards. It also fixes a system hang noticed when switching display modes on "Star Wars Battlefront II" on CrossFire machines. Also fixed, are incorrect clock and power values being reported on some machines with RX Vega series graphics cards. Grab the drivers from the link below.
DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.11.4

Latest LG Patent Reveals UltraGear VR Headset Splitting in Two

LG demonstrated their prototype VR headset at the Game Developer Conference earlier this year. It was widely known as the LG VR HMD, since it lacked a proper name at the time. Mobiel Kopen, a very popular Dutch publication, later discovered a LG filed patent revealing the device's name to be the UltraGear. LG's UltraGear headset, just like the HTC Vive, employs Valve's SteamVR tracking technology. Both headsets even share a similar controller design. However, LG has implemented two 3.64" OLED displays into the UltraGear, which features a 1440 x 1280 resolution and an impressive 90 Hz refresh rate to beat out both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets. But LG's innovative flip-up design is the real differentiating factor here. The concept is to give users the option to lift the front of the headset when they want to exit the VR world.

Sparc Coming Later This Month to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive

CCP Games today announced that Sparc, the energetic competitive virtual reality game currently available on PlayStationVR, is coming to Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets on PC on November 16th. Sparc's unique full-body experience is only possible in virtual reality, where players' VR equipment becomes their sports gear.

Players on PlayStation 4 and PCs will be able to compete against each other seamlessly. In Sparc, players connect online to compete in fast-paced and physical one-on-one gameplay, using motion controllers to throw projectiles across the court at their opponent while dodging, blocking or deflecting incoming shots.

TPCast on the Brink of Launching Wireless VR Kits to US, European Market

TPCast has been hard at work on creating a usable way to untether users' VR experiences, which is arguably one of the most important steps for full immersion. I expect nothing to be more immersion-breaking than pivoting to respond to fire from your rear, and consequently getting jumbled up in wires and falling towards your thousand-dollar PC and VR equipment. As such, untethering is essential to really give users the degrees of freedom we need to fully experience virtual reality worlds. To satisfy demand for their upcoming Vive wireless upgrade kit, the company is opening up shop in Silicon Valley no less. The new office will handle marketing, sales, and customer service for North American customers.

TPCast has been selling these "untethering" kits on China for almost a year now, and have since started accepting orders for the European market in September. The company expects to launch their product in Europe come November, but final launch for the North American market is still a cloudy, unannounced subject. If you have an Oculus Rift, the company is also designing a wireless adapter for that particular headset, though there's currently no news on when that one will be available.

TPCAST Develops Wireless Adapter for Oculus Rift

TPCAST, the leader in wireless virtual reality (VR) technology, announced today that it is working on a wireless adapter for the Oculus Rift headset. TPCAST is the first to introduce a commercial Wireless Adapter for Virtual Reality, which preserves the video quality and application performance. The TPCAST solution has been shipping in production and demonstrating high video quality and low latency.

The current high-end VR HMDs are driven by a cable transmitting the video, voice, data, and power utilizing HDMI, USB, and power connectors. The heavy-duty cord limits the VR experience by tying the user to a server and restricting the freedom of movement. With the TPCAST wireless solution, Rift users will gain an enhanced experience, as they roam around freely and play games, while preserving the same high quality as a standard wired connection.

Oculus VR Announces the $199 Oculus Go VR HMD

In addition to slashing the price of Oculus Rift HMD Set down to USD $399, Oculus VR announced a new standalone VR headset for the masses, the Oculus Go, which at USD $199, is significantly cheaper than the Oculus Rift, while not being that much costlier than the $129 Samsung Gear VR. Oculus Go lacks the fully-tracked motion sensors or inside-out tracking of the Oculus Rift, which helps keep its price down. It retains the essentials, including a 2560 x 1440 pixels display resolution, new lenses, and 3D spatial audio built into the headset. Oculus VR plans to put Go in the hands of developers by November 2017, with mass-production expected to begin shortly after, and retail availability some time in 2018.

Oculus VR Slashes the Price of Oculus Rift Down to $399

Oculus VR announced that its pioneering Oculus Rift VR HMD has finally emerged from its early-adopter pricing, and will be sold at USD $399 a piece, going forward. The company had been facing increased competition in HMDs from the likes of the HTC Vive, and tech majors Microsoft announcing their VR/AR standards. Each $399 Rift bundle comes with Touch controllers, sensors, and six free apps that give you hours of entertainment including Epic's arcade shooter, Robo Recall, and our creative tools, Medium and Quill. Oculus VR, throughout its press-release, emphasized that the $399 price isn't a limited-period offer, and that the pricing is "permanent."

ASUS Announces ROG Zenith Extreme, ROG Strix X399-E, Prime X399-A X399 Mobos

There are two kinds of desktop CPU platforms. The mainstream tier runs from two cores up to eight, and it's great for gaming and general use. Its high-end sibling takes everything up a level with more cores, more memory channels, and more bandwidth for graphics and storage. A considerable upgrade in every regard, this high-end desktop platform appeals to power users, content creators, and prosumers who want to blur the line between desktop and workstation. AMD's Threadripper CPU is the latest addition to the desktop's heavyweight division, and it walks into the ring with an entourage of SocketTR4 motherboards in tow. This guide explains the ASUS and ROG family to help you pick the best X399 motherboard for your high-end desktop or gaming PC.

All of our X399 boards share core DNA that includes one-touch overclocking, refined cooling control, and improved RGB lighting. Yet they each have their own distinct flavor as well. The ROG Zenith Extreme brings Threadripper into the world of premium dream PCs with provisions for custom liquid cooling and 10G networking. With the Strix X399-E Gaming, hardcore gamers can build stylish rigs with power to spare for high-quality streaming. And then there's the Prime X399-A and its well-rounded foundation channeling the professional side of the platform's prodigious power. Which X399 motherboard should you buy for your build? Let's find out.

Oculus Rift, Touch VR on Sale: Grab Yours While it Lasts

One of the hottest pieces of tech in the last few years, Oculus' Rift and Touch VR add-on, have entered a sale of sorts, which bring the pricing on these pieces of kit down to more humane, tenable values. If you are living over in the Great Britain side of the pond, you can grab your Rift+ Oculus Touch VR kit for a reasonable (for the tech) £399, for a limited time only. Scan.uk has you covered. On the other side of the pond (that means you, US), you can grab the same kit for an even more reasonable $399 (Newegg pricing at time of writing.)

These deals are being touted as limited to supply, and of a short duration. So if you think the hardware is at a point you're comfortable with, and that the platform and software ecosystem have matured enough for you to take the plunge, now might be the best time in a while to do so.

Microsoft to Launch First-Party Titles for Its Mixed Reality HMDs?

Microsoft has been slowly building up its mixed reality endeavor, by baking in support for the platform in its latest Windows 10 updates, as well as the recent announcements of actual HMDs from hardware partners like HP and Acer. Acer's solution, their Mixed Reality HMD, will ship to developers and customers with a $400 price-tag for both the headset and a pair of 6 DoF controllers, which easily remind users of HTC's Vive and Oculus's Rift controllers. Microsoft's implementation, however, makes away with the Rift's and Vive's ouside-in trackers, only needing to be within "sight" of the sensors on the front of the HMD to which they're connected, thus making them truly world-scale (if at the expense of some sweet swordplay moves, but I digress.)

Valve and Pixvana bring Quality VR Video Content to Steam

Pixvana, makers of the cloud-based 360 video creation studio SPIN, today announced a partnership with Valve to integrate their software services into the greater Steam platform. A beta version of the SPIN software will now let users directly publish 360 video content directly to the Steam Store, which will allow Steam VR enabled headset users to browse a new huge library of high quality (up to 12k according to Pixvana) 360-degree video content.

Oculus Shuts Down Its VR-driven Story Studio - The Empire Falters

VR is one of the most important buzzwords in tech, not only for current development, but also for what studios and tech insiders deem to be our entertainment future. Oculus, which paved the way for VR with its Rift headset concept (before being snagged by Facebook), is one of the biggest, most recognizable players in this space. Now, after a series of hurdles such as the Oculus-ZeniMax sonata, which saw the former facing payments of $500 million, and Oculus' founder Palmer Luckey abandoning the company, a house of cards is crumbling. Namely, Oculus' VR-driven Story Studio.

NVIDIA to Give Away Three VR Games with GeForce GTX + Oculus Bundle

NVIDIA is giving away three VR games with bundles of Oculus Rift VR headset, Oculus Touch controller, and qualifying GeForce GTX graphics cards. Game codes to three of the hottest VR titles, "The Unspoken," "SUPERHOT VR," and "Wilson's Heart" will be given away for free when you buy bundles of the Rift VR headset, Touch controller, with GeForce GTX 1060, GTX 1070, GTX 1080, or GTX 1080 Ti graphics cards. The bundles will be sold exclusively through Amazon and Newegg.

On the special promotion pages of these stores, you can match an Oculus Rift headset and Touch controller with an applicable GeForce GTX graphics card of your choice. A typical GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB + Oculus Rift + Touch controller bundle is priced around US $850, a GTX 1070 based bundle around $980, a GTX 1080 based bundle around $1,090, and a GTX 1080 Ti based bundle around $1,300.
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