One Third Of Valve’s Employees Are Working On VR Related Software And Hardware Projects

We've been hearing for quite some time now that virtual reality is the next big thing in gaming, and companies are just saying it, they're actively preparing for such a future. Take Valve for instance. Even though Valve is operating the most popular digital distribution system for games, along with various side projects, it's devoted around one-third of its talent to VR.

That's according to Alan Yates, a hardware engineer at Valve who recently answered some questions at reddit. His posts weren't part of an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, but there were some interesting revelations nonetheless, the biggest of those being just how engrossed and committed to VR Valve is at this still relatively early stage.

Steam VR

"There are a number of teams around the planet doing great things in this new space, it is truly exciting. But we all owe a huge debt to those in academia and niche industries that kept the dream alive after the 90s VR implosion. People like Mark Bolas at USC where Palmer Lucky got his start and Jaron Lanier now at MSR who popularized the term Virtual Reality and has never stopped thinking about the future of digitally mediated reality," Yates said.

"I was super fortunate to start at Valve right around the time Michael Abrash had begun the AR/VR research team. It was a much smaller team then than it is now, it has since grown to encompass about a third of the company, but the key individuals that solved most of the really hard technological problems and facilitated this generation of consumer headsets are still here working on the next generation," Yates continued.

One of the things that's a little tricky right now are the different types of altered reality technologies. There's virtual reality, augmented reality, and mediated reality. Rather than fret over the different directions, Valve is more concerned with pushing the technologies in general, getting as many consumers on board as possible. To that end, Yates confirmed that Valve plans to license out its technology and research behind optics, tracking, and other segments.

"We want AR/VR/MR to be ubiquitous," Yates said.

Valve is also resisting the urge to lock down technologies and content to a specific platform, as Oculus has tried to do with Rift. According to Yates, all Valve really asks for when sharing out technologies is that resulting devices work with its own platform, but there are no demands that it be an exclusive arrangement.

"We won't ask that it only works on our platform, we won't stop you from targeting other industries," Yates added. "This gives both you and your users freedom of choice and security that isn't dependent on either party's future decisions. It is a pretty good deal really."

In case you're wondering and/or want to be a part of the VR movement, Yates reiterated that Valve is always hiring.