Valve's SteamVR will let you play existing 2D games in a virtual home theater

For those who get so sucked into virtual reality that they never want to leave, Valve’s SteamVR platform is adding a way to play existing Steam games.

SteamVR’s Desktop Theater Mode is in early beta testing now, and allows users to play non-VR games while using their VR headsetes. Valve was light on specifics, but Road to VR claims that the mode will be “a virtual environment in a sort of virtual home theater with a huge display.”

The idea of a simulated living room for virtual reality isn’t new. Samsung’s Gear VR headset, for instance, provides Netflix users with a fancy vacation lodge in which to binge on Better Call Saul. On its own, this approach is a bit underwhelming, but the concept has potential to grow. One could imagine, for instance, using the simulated environment to host virtual LAN parties, with all the players having a physical presence.

In any case, Valve says it will support Desktop Theater Mode on the upcoming HTC Vive VR system and any others that support SteamVR. The feature will get a proper demo at the Game Developers Conference this week.

Why this matters: Playing the same old 2D games for hours with a VR headset strapped to your face may be tough to justify, as the real value of VR will be in games that are built for 3D space. Still, the theater mode could be worthwhile if Valve can add some unique features to it, and will at least give Vive owners something to do until more VR-optimized content arrives.


Jared Newman

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