It’s widely agreed that it’s not just the technology of a virtual reality (VR) headset that’s important, but the actual experiences that are offered to users too. Having recently announced its Vive VR headset (which is being built in partnership with HTC), game publisher and developer Valve is well positioned to offer lots of great, VR-compatible games as they have a large back catalogue of titles that they’ve made themselves.
Out of all of Valve’s game series, Half-Life is one of the most likely to be made compatible with VR headsets. As a first-person shooter, its gameplay is perfect for VR (which can make players feel as though they are the character themselves) and it’s also massively popular so it could help to encourage Vive early adopters in the face of competition from other VR headsets such as Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus.
But when HTC chairwoman Cher Wang told the BBC that her company is working with Valve on a Vive version of Half-Life, one day later she apologized for what she’d said and explained that she had simply misspoken. Despite her statement though, Valve has now revealed that they aren’t ruling out a Half-Life VR version and that they have actually tested some ideas already.
Speaking to Kotaku, Valve programmer Jeep Barnett explained:
“We’ve said, ‘Let’s take some existing art and see how it fits. So yeah, we’ll grab some headcrabs, we’ll grab the machine guns from Half-Life, the rocket launcher—all those different fun things—and see how they play in VR. But right now, it’s a tool for exploring the different kind of game designs we want to do.”
“We’re not saying, ‘no’, but we don’t know what the right thing is [yet]. Our most precious resource is time, and we don’t have enough time for people to do everything. Would we like to make all of our franchises in VR? Absolutely. But we don’t have enough time or people. So we have to figure out what’s the best fit, what plays to the strengths of VR.”
Valve’s lack of time and people power probably comes as very little surprise given how many things the company is involved in. In addition to its Vive headset, the company is also launching its Steam Machines in November, there’s the Steam Link streaming device and they have just announced plans to release its Source 2 game engine for free. That’s a heck of a lot of work for a company with less than 500 employees.
What is hopeful though is that these experiments are already bearing fruit as Barnett also explained that their Portal VR demo (which was privately shown at GDC) will likely launch alongside Vive later this year. This means that their other experiments with Half-Life, Left 4 Dead and DOTA (along with a new cover-based shooter and escape-the-room style game) could also be released on Vive in the future; but only if the company decides that they make sense.
Would you like to see Half-Life on Vive? Do you think Valve should work on new IP for Vive instead?