Category Archives: Virtual Reality

Half-Life: Alyx is one step closer to existing with new, firm release date

Valve’s first announcements about its upcoming VR-exclusive game Half-Life: Alyx included a vague launch window of March 2020. In a world where Valve game delays are the rule rather than the exception, the lack of a firm release date was enough to make the developers’ fans anxious about Valve Time rearing its head again.

On Thursday, Valve made weaseling out of its announced plans a bit tougher, as the company confirmed a firm release date for HLA: March 23, 2020.

The announcement first appeared on the company’s social media feed, and as of press time, the exact date has yet to appear on either the game’s official site nor its Steam sales listing. Today’s news also came with a brief gallery of brand-new game images. While they don’t point to any new gameplay mechanics, they’re a welcome look into a virtual world that looks plenty authentic to the beloved Half-Life universe.

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‘Half Life: Alyx’ will hit Steam on March 23rd

Unlike many other publishers who've delayed big games in recent months, it appears as though Valve is actually sticking to the March release window it set for Half Life: Alyx. Even better, the VR prequel to Half-Life 2 now has an actual release date:…

‘Prince of Persia’ is coming back as a VR escape room

Good news, there's finally a new Prince of Persia game — only it's not the swashbuckling platformer you were probably hoping for. Ubisoft has revealed The Dagger of Time, a VR escape room that uses the Arabian Nights-inspired universe as the settin…

Steam: Virtual reality’s biggest-ever jump in users happened last month

Well-dressed partygoers dance in VR headsets.

Enlarge / If Steam’s latest VR hardware stats are any indication, parties like this may very well be happening in your neighborhood. (Yes, we know, most of these models are sporting headsets outside of the SteamVR ecosystem. If you’d like to model for our next VR article’s imagery, send your snaps to Aurich Lawson, stat.) (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty)

How well are virtual reality headsets selling? With most of the sector’s major players remaining coy on sales figures, we’re left to draw an incomplete picture from various bits of data. This month, at least, we have an intriguing new data point: a burst in PC-VR hardware use, two months in a row.

Valve’s gaming marketplace Steam includes an opt-in hardware survey feature, and the results are published as percentages of surveyed users on a monthly basis. You’ll find all kinds of data about Steam-connected computers every month, and this includes operating systems, video cards, VR systems, and more. In the latter case, that figure is counted out of all Steam users—as opposed to a less-helpful stat like “70 percent of VR fans prefer Product A, 30 percent Product B.”

We were intrigued (but not surprised) to see a jump in connected VR devices for the reported month of December 2019. That’s the holiday season, after all, and it’s reasonable to expect Santa’s deliveries of headsets to affect data.

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‘Space Channel 5′ returns in VR form on February 25th

If you're still pining for Space Channel 5, Tetsuya Mizuguchi's first big music-focused games, you're in for a treat… if you have the right hardware, anyway. Grounding and Sega are releasing a VR take on the franchise, Space Channel 5 VR Kinda Fun…

Two years later, Apple’s AR/VR headset plans reportedly delayed two years

An image <a href='http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8,605,008.PN.&OS=PN/8,605,008&RS=PN/8,605,008'>from a patent Apple filed back in 2008</a> shows exactly what Apple's VR/AR headset will look like, 100%, with no changes if/when it launches over 15 years later.

Enlarge / An image from a patent Apple filed back in 2008 shows exactly what Apple’s VR/AR headset will look like, 100%, with no changes if/when it launches over 15 years later.

Right around this date in 2017, Bloomberg reported that Apple was working on a pair of augmented reality glasses for a planned 2020 launch. Now that it’s late 2019, The Information is reporting (and Bloomberg is largely confirming) that Apple is now planning to launch a combined VR/AR headset in 2022, following up with a lightweight pair of AR glasses in 2023.

Apple’s perpetually-three-or-more-years-away headset plans have “a focus on gaming, watching video and virtual meetings,” Bloomberg reports, and now include a new 3D sensor that builds off of Apple’s existing FaceID sensor. A 1,000-person team inside the company—reportedly led by former Dolby Labs engineer Mike Rockwell and involving former Virginia Tech professor Doug Bowman—is still reportedly working on a completely new operating system for the headset dubbed rOS (reality operating system).

The market for VR and AR headsets looks very different today than it did back in 2016, when reports first started leaking out regarding Apple’s plans in the space. Back then, expensive PC-tethered VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive were launching to a lot of fanfare but generally disappointing sales. Today, improvements in technology have moved the focus to cheaper “all-in-one” untethered headsets like the $400 Oculus Quest, which has reportedly sold a decent-but-uninspiring 400,000 units since its launch in May (a relatively poor showing when compared to other recent portable gaming-focused hardware).

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Apple’s AR headset might not arrive until 2022

You might not want to get your hopes up for an Apple augmented reality headset in 2020 despite evidence of progress. The Information sources claim Apple held an internal presentation in October where it expected to release the AR headset (really a m…

Google open sources Cardboard as it retreats from phone-based VR

Google's decision to back away from phone-based VR may have an upside for creators. The internet giant is releasing a Cardboard open source project that will let developers create VR experiences and add Cardboard support to their apps. It covers ba…

Microsoft’s DreamWalker VR turns your daily commute into a totally different one

A user traverses a park while wearing a DreamWalker kit.

Enlarge / A user traverses a park while wearing a DreamWalker kit. (credit: Microsoft)

Researchers at Microsoft have developed new VR technologies that they claim allow users to remain fully immersed in a virtual world even while traversing public places in the real world on foot.

Microsoft describes the project, titled DreamWalker, as “a method for allowing people to safely navigate a given route in real-world environments, such as a daily walk to work, while seeing themselves strolling a different VR world, such as a city of their choosing.” It was developed by researchers Jackie Yang, Eyal Ofek, Andy Wilson, and Christian Holz.

The company’s research division published a blog post about the new research yesterday, and researchers will present the method at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology tomorrow.

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Samsung patent application showcases AR headset design

When websites like Engadget report on patents, typically all you see accompanying the applications are line diagrams that give a faint idea of what a tech company is working on. Not so with a recently discovered application from Samsung, which includ…