Valve has established a reputation as a maker of both excellent games and excellent software but its hardware track record is a bit flimsy. By that I mean the company hasn’t actually released any kind of hardware ever. Although inexperience, Valve’s first foray into the hardware world appears to be going quite well, very well actually. The company’s impressive virtual reality headset, made with help from HTC, is rivaled only by its even more impressive controller.
Valve has a lot of trust to regain when it comes to hardware. The Steam Machine concept — a fusion of consoles and gaming PCs, running Valve’s own OS — was huge news in 2013 and early 2014, then dropped almost completely off the map, as it became clear that the strange, slightly yonic controller needed a redesign and manufacturers could just release their products as traditional gaming PCs. A year later, though, we’ve got a new game plan, a final controller design, and a virtual reality headset made in partnership with HTC. And Valve is doing something that no other major headset company is: trying to genuinely, practically reinvent the way we use our hands in virtual space. The HTC Vive (rhymes with “hive”) headset was announced earlier this week at Mobile World Congress, where we tried it for the first time. It builds on years worth of virtual reality research, focusing specifically on creating an experience that’s ambulatory and interactive. Unlike the Oculus Rift, the Vive is very explicitly meant for moving around in