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HP Announces the Reverb G2 VR Headset Co-designed by Valve and Microsoft

Today, HP Inc. unveiled its latest virtual reality (VR) headset, the HP Reverb G2, in collaboration with industry leaders Valve and Microsoft. The HP Reverb G2 is the world's highest resolution VR headset among major vendorsi, delivering cutting-edge optics, inside-out tracking, spatial 3D audio, natural gestures, long-wearing comfort, and plug and play support for Windows Mixed Reality and SteamVR.

"The power of collaboration is on full display with the HP Reverb G2, and alongside Valve and Microsoft, we engineered a no-compromises VR headset that's immersive, comfortable, and compatible across Windows Mixed Reality and SteamVR," said Spike Huang, vice president and global lead of VR, HP Inc. "The time is now for VR and the HP Reverb G2 brings high-quality VR to the masses with more immersion for gamers, interactive experiences for creators, increased engagement for collaboration, and higher retention rates for education and training."

Steam "Play Next" Game Recommendation Feature Now Available

Valve introduced "Play Next" as an experimental feature as part of Steam Labs earlier this year for testing. The feature previously known as "Experiment 008: Play Next" uses machine learning algorithms to provide suggestions to gamers with extensive libraries on what unplayed or very low playtime game in their library they should try next. This technology is also used in Valve's Interactive Recommender and works by identifying comparable games on Steam. The feature is now live for all users in the latest Steam client update and can be found under the Play Next shelf in library view.

Valve Rumored to Launch Steam Loyalty Scheme

SteamDB developer Pavel Djundik has uncovered evidence of a Steam loyalty scheme in some recent code strings. The developer detailed how the scheme may consist of a points system where users can redeem points for badge levels and possibly game discounts. This discovery comes just as the dates for the next Steam sale were leaked to be the 25th June - 9th July so this new loyalty scheme may launch alongside the sale and replace previous sale schemes.

Djundik has also discovered potential changes to the Steam review system with the introduction of user reactions. These reactions include deep thoughts, heartwarming, hilarious, hot take, poetry, and helpful. Djundik has an excellent track record for leaks regarding Steam just last week predicting the announcement of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, so it will be interesting to see if this new loyalty scheme gets released.

Half Life 2: Remastered Shows Up on Steam Database: An Eye-candy Uplift Mod

A new game on Steam DB titled "Half Life2: Remastered" raised eyebrows across the web. Unlike "Crysis Remastered," which is an official Crytek upcoming title that adds content to the path-breaking shooter from the late-2000s, "Half Life 2: Remastered" doesn't come from Valve, as DSOGaming explains. Developed by Filip Victor, author of the community-made "Half Life 2: Update," a mod for your HL2 installation; "Remastered" adds some new content such as improved lighting, a revamped HDR implementation, and an improved fog. If "Update" is any indication, "Remastered" could be a continuous community effort, adding content to HL2. The holy grail in our opinion would be Valve releasing master versions of its textures for the game, so the game could receive a texture quality update. Find more details in the Steam DB listing here.

Valve Removes SteamVR Support on macOS

Valve has announced that SteamVR will drop support for the macOS platform so that development teams can focus on Windows and Linux support. SteamVR users running macOS who wish to continue using SteamVR will need to opt-in for legacy macOS builds from the "Beta" tab under SteamVR properties. This measure will probably stop functioning relatively quickly as new hardware and software changes appear. This move doesn't come as much of a surprise as the macOS platform isn't known for its VR activity, in the long-term macOS users will have to migrate to an alternate operating system or dual boot if they wish to continue accessing SteamVR.

Source Code of CS: GO and Team Fortress 2 Leaks

Source Code of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2 got leaked today. It seems like Valve hasn't been careful with control of its output, and a few leaks came out. All of the licensees of the Source Engine, a multi-platform game engine used in all Valve's games like Dota 2, Half-Life, and CS: GO, have been empowered by Valve with access to the source code of 2017/2018 versions of CS: GO and Team Fortress 2. Someone down the line, however, took that opportunity and access to leak the source code. The original news source is the SteamDB Twitter account, so we don't have any link to the actual source code.

This pretty big news since CS: GO can be considered as the most popular game on the Steam platform, and IP that Valve holds on it is very valuable. The 2017/2018 version that is leaked is probably outdated by a mile now, but it still represents an act of theft and should be treated as such. We are yet to see the response from Valve and how they will handle this situation.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive source code

Valve's Project Proton has Brought Over 6,500 Windows Games to Linux

Project Proton is a tool developed by Valve Software which allows Windows games to run on Linux through Steam. The project was launched in 2018 as a forked version of WINE with some additional features such as DirectX over Vulkan. According to ProtonDB a fan page which reports game compatibility there are now over 6,500 games which work flawlessly without any modifications on Linux.

This is an amazing achievement for the Linux gaming community and outshines the work of any porting company, at the current rate over 100 games are gaining complete compatibility each month and the average quality of games has also increased. Out of the top 1000 Steam games 67% run perfectly after minor tweaks.

Patents Reveal Possible New Valve Steam Controller

Valve may be working on a new Steam Controller with swappable components like those found on the Xbox Elite Controller according to recently published patents. While this patent doesn't guarantee we will see a next generation steam controller it does highlight Valve's internal efforts in developing a new controller. The original steam controller wasn't the success many had hoped for and was discontinued in late 2019 after a myriad of issues.

The patent was filed in late 2018 but was only published last month and reveals several interesting abilities of the controller, the new version while maintaining the distinctive steam controller design would swap the joystick for a D-pad. The patent also includes information about a feature that would introduce more customization options for button and trigger mapping depending on the game or software. These ideas build on the original premise of the steam controller and presents a vast array of modding options.

Valve's Studio Orchestra begins Releasing its Iconic Soundtracks on Spotify

In case you didn't know, Valve Studio Orchestra is the group behind the iconic soundtracks of many Valve games including DOTA 2 and Team Fortress 2. This week, the soundtracks for both DOTA 2 and Team Fortress 2 became available to stream on Spotify, Valve Studio Orchestra has also hinted the Left 4 Dead soundtrack may soon be joining them.

The soundtrack for Valve's Portal series already exist on Spotify, as do tracks from Valve's Half-Life series. You can find the Valve Studio Orchestra Spotify page here.
DOTA 2 Team Fortress 2

Half Life: Alyx Now Released for VR Systems, Receives Acclaim in Reviews

Valve's Half Life: Alyx has been finally released, after the company first teased, and then unwrapped the game back in November 2019. Half Life: Alyx has been completely developed for the VR gaming crown, with a focus on execution that meant for it to finally be VR's killer app - much like Halo was for the original Xbox. Valve describes the game as a full-length release in the Half Life universe, slotting in the 20-year time gap between the events of the original Half Life and Half Life 2.

Of course, to play this game, you need a PC-based VR headset to play the game through Steam. The game has received rave reviews already, featuring a 93 Metacritic score based on 24 critic reviews, and an 8.2 user score. Give it some time before actually looking for guidance in that user review score, though. Valve founder Gabe Newell had this to say: "Half-Life: Alyx represents the culmination of Valve's technological advancement over the past few years. We have built SteamVR, our game engine, our tools, and VR hardware specifically to enable us to ship the best content we know how to create. Today, as we ship Alyx remotely from our homes, we are hoping that everyone stays safe and has a great time playing the game. Please let us know what you think."

Valve Index VR back on Sale on Monday for $999

Valve's Index VR headset is expected to go back on sale on Monday, March 9th, when Valve will again re-fill its stock of Index VR headsets, according to Engadget. Just in time for the Half-Life: Alyx launch, Valve has decided to supply all of the gamers with a stock of the headsets so everyone can experience the new Half-Life game with Valve's Index VR. Considering that Half-Life: Alyx is dropping on March 23rd, Valve thought of everyone in need of a new VR headset and decided to offer it on Monday. Valve is expecting the headset to sell out completely, so its best to be early if you want to get one too, for $999. The sale will begin at 1PM eastern time.

Steam Reveals Its Top Sellers for 2019

Steam has revealed the games that sold the most on the platform for this year of 2019. While Steam's own numbers don't represent the entirety of the PC market - considering other digital storefronts such as GOG, EPIC Games Store and publisher-exclusive stores like Origin also have a relevant market share - this does let us take a considered peek at the PC gaming landscape. Steam's top sellers also includes top grossing, where games that have store-bound skins or extras are also taken into account).

Steam's Platinum lineup includes all the hallmarks of PC gaming: online experiences such as Warframe, DOTA 2, PUBG, and the Elder Scrolls Online, through strategy experiences such as Civilization VI and Total War: Three Kingdoms. Considering that Destiny 2 also made it in the platform, many gamers actually enjoy that experience - it is unclear if Steam considers every redeem from the Blizzard store into the Steam Store a sale, but if not, it's mighty impressive that a game that released on October 1st.

Half-Life: Alyx Officially Revealed, Will Release March 2020

Valve has taken the proverbial wraps off the already-teased, and now revealed, Half Life: Alyx. The latest installment in the Half-Life universe, again, isn't a sequel to the narrative that has been left midway with the ending of Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Instead, it's a prequel of sorts, situated in the 20-year time gap between the original Half-Life and Half-Life 2. It's at this point in the timeline that players will accompany Alyx and her father, Elias, in their fight against the Combine.

Engine-wise, the game will make use of the Source 2 engine, and will be released with accompanying Source 2 tools for worldbuilding, allowing players to design and distribute their own worlds set in this universe. The game will be a single-player, story-driven FPS affair, and will make heavy use of Half-Life's physics interactions. The game is being announced as a full-length game release built from the ground-up for VR - it's not just a VR adventure the development team embarked on, though it did start that way. But let that be for a while: go after the break to watch the game's trailer. I dare you to say this doesn't quite look like your Half-Life dream game.

Valve To Announce Half-Life VR Game, Half-Life: Alyx, on November 21st

Well, that headline must've been met with both a warm fuzzy feeling of nostalgia, and a sudden, stab-like wound on the back of many readers. The usage of Valve and Half-Life together in the same sentence has been the victim of multiple memes and disappointments over the years, with the studio being seemingly unable to keep up with the mantle of great games it has released before in the Half-Life universe. Half-Life 3 is already so much of a failed expectation that the game could (likely) never live up to the expectations set on it at this point in time. It seems valve is shrugging the game away with a Half-Life set VR game, though, in the form of Half-Life: Alyx.

Valve itself have posted a teaser image on Twitter, announcing it as a flagship VR game available for SteamVR. To be unveiled on November 21st, nothing much is known about the game by now; but it's expected it will be a VR-exclusive experience. The game started out as a single-player exploration experience for VR, and it seems to have found its way developed into a full-fledged game. Apparently, this Half-Life: Alyx game is the first in Valve's plans of releasing more VR games in the future, which may or may not be set in the Half-Life universe. This could actually be an interesting experience for VR, if you can get beyond the usual betrayal of not seeing an announcement for Half-Life 3. Who knows - this could even be the killer app for VR, or an Half-Life renaissance in the minds of gamers and Valve themselves. At the very least, we know it will induce nostalgia.

Valve Offices Burgled, Thief Does Away with $40,000 Worth Equipment and Games

A man broke into the offices of Valve Software in September, and did away with $40,000 worth equipment and game keys. He was caught on camera trying to sell these keys at a Game Stop store. 32-year-old Shawn Shaputis already had six warrants for his arrest out on him when he broke into the Bellevue WA offices of one of the world's largest game distribution companies. The suspect is still at large, and is summoned to appear before court. Should he fail to show up, additional warrants for arrest will be put out. Valve Software owns Steam, the world's largest online game distribution platform.

Chinese Gamers to Finally Get Steam, Sort of

Valve announced that Steam will finally enter the Chinese market. The Chinese version of Steam will be entirely different from the International version of Steam (available in markets such as Taiwan, India, and Australia). Valve's Chinese partner, Perfect World Entertainment, which already operates a Steam-like DRM platform called Arc, will also operate Steam China, which will go under the brand name "Zhengqi Pingtai" (Steam Platform).

The need for a China-specific version of Steam arises from stringent regulations by China on not just game content, but also data-localization. This partitioning of the userbase cuts both ways, as it keeps data of non-Chinese Steam users from being localized in China. Perfect World will also handle the individual screening and publication of Steam titles to not break any Chinese laws. The platform will initially have 40 titles, including Valve's homebrew "Dota2" and "Dota Underlords." Perfect World CEO Xiao Hong assured gamers that they will benefit from high-bandwidth and low-latency servers spread across China.

AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin 19.7.2 Drivers

AMD late Tuesday posted its latest version of Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition. Version 19.7.2 adds optimization for "GEARS 5" beta. It fixes a number of issues, beginning with Facebook being unavailable with Radeon ReLive. "Star Wars Battlefront II" textures appearing pixellated or blurry with the DirectX 11 API has also been fixed. Radeon Overlay flickering in DirectX 9 apps with Radeon Image Sharpening enabled, is fixed. Valve Index HMD experiencing flickering when launching SteamVR on machines with Radeon RX 5700-series graphics cards, is fixed.

Radeon WattMan auto-tuning global settings not applying per-game has also been fixed. WattMan showing max values instead of increased values in auto-tuning results screen has also been fixed. The WattMan memory clock gauge now correctly auto-updates. Texture corruption on enemy models in "Doom" (2016) has been fixed. A bug that caused Radeon display drivers to fail to uninstall in hybrid graphics configurations has been fixed. Grab the drivers from the link below.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 19.7.2

Valve Officially Launches the Valve Index VR HMD, Full Kit Preorder Up for $999

We knew this was coming, given Valve's own teaser confirmation from March, and then a faux pas that resulted in an incomplete Steam store page ending up public for a short time. Valve had promised more details would come in May, and here we are with a lot of information available about the Valve Index headset, the controllers, the base stations, as well as retail pricing + availability.

Name aside, the Valve Index specs that leaked before end up holding true with the retail product. The headset uses dual 1440x1600 RGB LCDs which Valve claims helps provide 50% more subpixels relative to an OLED display. This in turn should result in higher effective sharpness for the same rendering horsepower, and is further accentuated via a 3x better fill factor to mitigate the dreaded screen-door effect. The headset runs at 120 Hz with full backwards compatibility to 90 Hz to work with VR titles built around that specification and, more interestingly, also supports an experimental 144 Hz mode. PC gamers have long known the benefits of higher framerates, and this is especially valid with VR, but time will tell how the rest of the ecosystem works around this. Equally important to VR gaming is the illumination period, which allows on-screen imagery to remain sharp while you are in motion just as well as when at rest. Valve claims up to a 5x reduction here, with a rated illumination period of 0.33 to 0.53 ms depending on the real time framerate. More to see past the break, so be sure to do so if this interests you!

Epic's Tim Sweeney Says They'd Stop Hunting for Exclusives if Steam Matched Epic Games Store in Comission Rates

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has come out with an interesting commitment: that EPIC would stop hunting for exclusives in the PC platform is Steam were to match them in their 88% return to developers for each game sold. Being a developer themselves, Epic games have certainly looked into creating their own storefront as a way to escape the clutches of Steam's cut in the digital, PC distribution market (a move that had already been done by the likes of EA and Ubisoft, if you'll remember). A commitment to stop hunting for exclusives (and thus segregating the PC games offering across different platforms) is a clear indicator of Epic's mission with the Epic Games Store: to bring back power and returns to developers such as them (while taking a cut from the profits for themselves, obviously).

Check out after the break for the full content of Sweeney's remarks regarding their Games Store and the problem with Steam. I, for one, don't see much of a problem with virtual segregation of games across multiple PC-bound platforms - one of the strengths of PC gaming is actually the ability to install multiple applications that increase functionality, after all. But if the end game of all of this is simply to give more back to developers and Epic's move facilitates that by forcing Valve's hand in matching them for fear of drying profits - then so be it.

Steam Hardware Survey Shows AMD's Continued Struggle to Gain Market Share

Steam's latest hardware survey has been released, and while there is no real head scratching changes, it does continue to give us a glimpse into current market trends. In regards to CPU adoption, both six-core and eight-core processors now account for 12.2% and 2.2% respectively. Looking at just Windows data shows six-core processors gained a bit over 2% market share in 3 months. Meanwhile, eight-core offerings saw a market share increase of roughly 0.5%. Speaking of processors, Intel still dominates the market capturing an 82% share. AMD, while competitive in many tasks besides gaming still only has an 18% share. Looking at the data would lead one to believe AMD is gaining back market share; however looking at previous hardware surveys their current share is mostly holding steady. Considering Intel still offers better gaming performance for the time being its unlikely AMD will make any real gains in the Steam hardware survey until gaming performance reaches true parity.

Looking at graphics cards, NVIDIA still reigns supreme holding the same 75% market share they have been clutching for quite some time. AMD, on the other hand, continues to struggle, holding a paltry 15% share with Intel and their integrated graphics still managing to hold a 10% share. Considering AMD's only release as of late was the Radeon VII it is not all that surprising to see no change here. That said, NVIDIA's dominance is indeed not a good thing as it means competition is minimal, and pricing is likely to remain high. Right now according to the Steam hardware survey, NVIDIA currently holds the first 12 spots in regards to today's most popular graphics cards, which combine for a 52.8% share. The most popular of these being the GTX 1060. You have to go all the way down to 13th place to find an AMD graphics card which just so happens to be the Radeon RX 580 with its 1.1% share. To find the next AMD graphics card you have to go all the way down to 19th where the companies Radeon R7 Graphics holds steady at 0.87%. Hopefully, AMD's upcoming Navi graphics architecture can bring them back to prominence and drive more competition.

"Steam Was Killing PC Gaming", Former Valve Dev Says

The EPIC confrontation with Valve has become a hot topic in recent months, as a veritable Exodus of titles have migrated to the greener, 12%-limited cut that the EPIC Games Store takes from publishers who put their games on the EPIC Games Store digital storefront. Mostly, user reception of EPIC's practice of securing mostly one-year timed exclusivity deals for games that would otherwise also be available through Steam has left a sour taste oin gamers' mouths, as it is seen as a forced way for EPIC to fracture the PC gaming space.

However, a former Valve developer has come forth to say that in his view, Valve's 30% cut was already way behind the times, and was actually "killing PC gaming". The train of thought is that Steam itself changed Valve from a software company to what mostly amounts to a service provider, with Steam serving as a veritable digital money printing machine, that stole focus from games to games publishing, due to higher margins and much lower development costs. It's interesting - and logical - to assume that the reason an Half Life 3 never saw the light of day was because Valve had its revenue stream well secured in Steam. Why invest for a game that could be a flop, when you can just take a 30% cut from other developers' efforts?

Valve Index VR HMD Details Leak Via Premature Store Page Release, Ships June 2019

When we first covered Valve's own teaser about their first-party VR hardware ecosystem under the Valve Index moniker, we were not expecting to hear much more until May. Thanks to an error on their part, product pages for the headset, base stands, and controllers were all published prematurely on Steam for a few hours yesterday, and that was enough time for all the information to be saved online by others. The product pages were not complete, and lacked details that we expect to get sooner than later, but Valve has since confirmed that all information inadvertently leaked are accurate and we now more about the retail package now.

To begin with, May 1 is targeted as the official announcement date which will also bring with it pre-order options for those going this route in PC VR. The complete package will contain the headset itself with integrated headphones, of which we have a better render available now as seen below, a tether cable using DisplayPort 1.2 and USB 3.1 Gen 1 connections (and not the VirtualLink standard we were hoping to see), a region-specific power adapter and plug(s), and two face gaskets (narrow and wide). Interestingly the now-renamed Index Controllers are not included and are an optional, separate purchase. This is also the case with the Index base stations, which all leads us to assume that existing HTC Vive controllers and base stations will be compatible with the headset, or there will be another, more complete package to choose from. No pricing information available yet, and Valve says they are still finalizing this as well as actual shipping detail- with an aim to hit it in June.

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.

Valve Announces Steam Link App for Mobile Game Streaming Anywhere

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Valve had promised continued support to the Steam Link after discontinuing it last year, and most took it to mean basic updates to the hardware device itself at the time. That was 2018, and it is remarkable how the topic of in-house game streaming has come up since. Be it Google's Project Stream which seemingly is leading up to a major announcement by the company at GDC coming up very shortly, or Microsoft introducing their new Wireless Display app for PC game streaming on the XBOX One, as well as bringing its XBOX Live service to mobile platforms on iOS or Android alike, 2019 seems to herald a re-focus into the concept of game streaming whether the infrastructure is ready or not.

Valve for their own part has had their Steam Link be enjoyed by a fairly niche audience, one that shares a more local form of game streaming from a host device to another on the same network. NVIDIA's Shield offered a similar concept, and that too has not really made the news as much as NVIDIA would surely have wanted. This latest news from Valve allows streaming of one's Steam library (games, in particular) to phones, tablets, and TVs with no download or service fees applicable. Interested users can participate in the open beta program by simply downloading the app (Google Play store only for now) or on the Raspberry Pi as has been the case for a few months already. The Steam Link app is compatible with a number of popular Bluetooth controllers, including the Steam Controller, and Valve recommends a 5 GHz network or wired Ethernet for best experience. Looks like the weekend just got busier than I originally planned!

Upcoming Release List On Steam Sees Abuse By Developers

Valve's popular "Upcoming Release list" within Steam has become a bit of a hot button topic as the abuse of the feature becomes more widespread. As pointed out by Mike Rose, founder of indie game publisher No More Robots, on Twitter, the system behind the upcoming release list can be easily rigged by developers themselves. For context, the release list is created by Steam when it checks the release date for each title set in the Steam back end. Once it has verified the release date, the system then lists all titles that have been found on a fair number of wish lists, and displays them in the order they will be released. At this time, developers can continuously change the back end release date, thus keeping their games at the top of the list. This makes it easy for already popular titles to remain at the top, soaking up even more views. Meanwhile, if you take a gander at the games store page, you will see the proper release date which differs from the back end date the system currently uses.

Worse yet, there are currently no consequences for developers that are partaking in this practice. While in some ways I can appreciate the devs noticing these loopholes and taking advantage, the fact remains that it hurts the general user base. It also shows another flaw in Valve's various systems, showing how vulnerable they have become in recent years as their omnipotence has been steadily fading. For now, Tom Giardino from Valve's business team has made it clear that they are looking to fix and or resolve the problem, but do not wish to give an ETA for when a said fix would come. This is likely because they don't want to mess with the developers' ability to control their games release timing. It seems Valve can't catch a break between this, the Epic Games Store, and other problems. You can check the thread linked below for a full look into Mike's findings and thoughts on the issue.
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