Virtual reality gaming may seem like a very expensive gimmick to a lot of people, and in terms of sales numbers it’s hard to dispute that. But Valve CEO and co-founder of Steam, Gabe Newell, has reiterated that the company is in for the long haul when it comes to hardware ventures like VR and the Steam Deck.
“With VR our expectation is it's a very long haul, and that there are fundamentally important technologies that are being developed,” Newell said in a recent interview. “And if at any point you're narrowly defining the goalposts and saying 'how's that doing against the latest CS:GO update?' You're always going to end up making bad decisions based on that.”
Valve may have a history of innovating and then abandoning new hardware, but the company recently has been mega focused on VR gaming, launching their own VR headset, the Valve Index, as well as a VR-exclusive title to one of gaming’s most beloved franchises, Half-Life: Alyx.
Adding on to what he said before, when speaking about the success of the Valve Index and Steam Deck Newell continued: “our assumption is these are long-term decisions that we're making about how we contribute to the health and vitality of this ecosystem, and we're always going to be successful so long as that continues to happen.”
Newell also stated that he believes the reason the Steam Deck will do well, and why players might gravitate more towards that than say, the Nintendo Switch, is because of the openness of the PC platform, calling it the “superpower that we all collectively benefit from.”
And speaking of the success of HL Alyx last year, and the record number of sales in VR hardware in 2020, Newell said:
“It's been super helpful in helping us think what do we do next, how do we continue to move VR forward, what are the opportunities in the space. In that sense, it's been hugely successful. Everything we saw in terms of VR adoption, it had a positive impact there,” Newell added. “Working these tightly coupled hardware/software designs can in fact have big payoffs.”
So no, it looks like Valve won’t be abandoning VR or the Steam Deck anytime soon. In fact, these are products that they will be focusing on for the foreseeable future, and even pioneering in the years to come as they try to get more companies and manufacturers on board.
What do you think? Are you excited for the Steam Deck and the future of VR? What do you think a Steam Deck from other manufacturers will look like? And if you don’t own a VR headset, what would make you get one in the future? Let us know!