Valve launch Steam VR beta ahead of their Dev Days event

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Phil Savage at

Oculus Rift owners have mastered the open roads in Euro Truck Simulator 2, upset a fascist alien dystopia in Half-Life 2, and... had a lovely Tuscan holiday in that tech demo thing. Thanks to Valve, development kit owners have a new experience waiting for them: a nice floating menu. Ahead of their Steam Dev Days conference, they've released an experimental VR version of Steam. It's like Minority Report or something, only with a great big chunk of plastic pressed up in your face.

VR Support was launched as part of the latest update to Steam's beta client, which introduced a new application - called "SteamVR" - to users' Tools library. On the SteamVR group page, Valve programmer Joe Ludwig explained how to get the VR mode set up.

"If you own an Oculus Rift dev kit you can try it out by starting Steam with "-vr" on the command line," he writes. "Then press the Big Picture button to enter Big Picture + VR mode." Essentially, for those who want to give it a try, the easiest method is to create a Steam shortcut on your desktop, head into its properties, then add the command "-vr" to the end of that shortcut's target line.

First though, you'll need to enter the Steam VR beta itself. Again, Ludwig explained how:

  1. "Run Steam in the desktop client without the -vr option
  2. "Find "SteamVR" under "Tools" in your library. (If you don't have it installed, install it.)
  3. "Bring up properties on SteamVR and opt-in to the "Beta Update" beta. Let the update download.
  4. "Quit the Steam Client again and start it with -vr"

Currently, it seems as if the functionality is still somewhat temperamental. For those having problems, Reddit user Cunningcory provided some additional tips for setup.

Right now, all you're really getting is a version of Big Picture mode that supports head tracking. I'd expect SteamVR's functionality to be expanded along the way, though. Hopefully, by the time the commercial version of the Rift is released - or Valve's own VR hardware, expected to be announced during the Dev Days event - it will be a useful utility for browsing and selecting VR games.

Thanks, Road to VR.