Prez wrote on Mar 5, 2021, 16:44:
Wow Valve has taken a nosedive in recent years like so many others. I'm starting to think it's always better to remain a plucky start-up barely scraping by rather than making to the big leagues and losing every shred of creativity and soul you had.
They've actually done a lot--when it comes to VR. First, they are the only reason that PC gamers' options for VR aren't limited to "Facebook VR" and ... well just Facebook. In other words, they've successfully fended off FB's multi-billion dollar attempt to control the PCVR medium with their walled garden that's forcibly linked to a toxic social media platform.
On the hardware end they designed lighthouse tracking (enabling a ton of things in VR that aren't possible with any other solution), the HTC Vive (and in doing so successfully shifted the medium away from front facing gamepad experiences to fully tracked experiences with motion controllers--really the most interesting aspect of VR), helped design the Reverb G2, gave away technology to others (tracking, lens technologies, audio solutions), and released the Valve Index themselves. And they are, if we're to believe their public statements, continuing to work on high end VR hardware because they understand the quality of the experience isn't quite there yet.
On the platform and software end, they are the only platform doing the drudgework of supporting all VR systems and are doing it in a way that allows for a ton of interesting forms of extensibility in true PC fashion. And of course they've released Half-Life: Alyx (the game that basically sets a standard baseline for good VR design--something that devs will emulate for many years), a variety of other small projects to inspire developers, and they are continuing to work on VR titles (at the very least there's something called Citadel and another project that hasn't been leaked).
Some might say "but Facebook still controls the majority of PCVR hardware". This is true, but it's not really what matters. What matters is that PCVR gamers don't buy their games on the Oculus Store and thus aren't locked into Facebook's walled garden. That Facebook is using their billions to sell PCVR hardware at a loss to gain hardware dominance is unfortunate (other PC vendors need to not just break even but make a profit), but what's ultimately important is who controls the dominant platform (and, for us gamers, how well that platform "behaves"). So long as a decent percentage of users continue to use non-FB hardware it won't be an issue (and now FB has largely shifted focus to mobile VR gaming anyway).
If I had to criticize their efforts it's that they haven't supported indie VR devs directly (only indirectly) and they haven't acquired any promising projects and given them the Valve boost (like they did with TF, Portal, L4D, etc etc).
But you should really watch Half-Life: Alyx - The Final Hours. They go into how creating HLA was not just a matter of making an amazing VR game but also "fixing Valve". COVID is slowing them down but if we're to believe the story presented in HLA: TFH we'll be seeing much more from Valve.