The road to populating the VR industry is growing hotter by the week. Unity Technologies recently announced that its Unity Engine, which powers a wide range of games and applications, will natively support Valve Software’s upcoming SteamVR platform. This feature will be added to the engine with no extra cost to developers.
In addition to supporting Unity, Valve Software has also released a SteamVR rendering plugin for the Unity engine that promises “enhanced fidelity and performance.” Unity Technologies says that this will provide a more realistic experience in games and applications built using the Unity engine, Unity Technologies says.
"We made many of our Vive demos using Unity, and continue to use it today in VR development," said Gabe Newell, Co-Founder and MD, Valve. "Through that process, and in working with VR developers, we found some opportunities to make Unity even more robust and powerful for us and really want to share those benefits with all VR content creators."
Previously, SteamVR was provided for the Unity engine by way of a downloadable plugin on the Unity store. The use of SteamVR means that developers can create a single interface that will work with most if not all virtual reality headsets on the market, including the upcoming Oculus Rift and the Valve-based HTC Vive. This interface can also handle experiences ranging from a seated position to full-sized rooms. Developers also have access to tracked controllers, render models for tracked devices, and other goodies.
"Valve and Unity are both dedicated to creating the highest quality VR experiences possible," said John Riccitiello, CEO, Unity Technologies. "That means giving developers every possible chance to succeed, and our collaboration with Valve is designed to do just that."
News of the native SteamVR support in Unity arrives after Epic Games said that its Unreal Engine 4 editor was up and running in a VR environment. The editor should allow developers to don a VR headset like the Oculus Rift and its accompanying motion controllers, and create VR experiences in real time. Additional details will be revealed in March during GDC 2016.
Earlier this week, Amazon introduced its own gaming engine called Lumberyard. Tucked inside its announcement was news that Lumberyard currently supports PC and console games, "with mobile and virtual reality (VR) platforms coming soon." That's it on the details so far, though. Lumberyard is said to be based on CryTek’s CRYENGINE, which includes native support for the Oculus Rift.
Unity Technologies and Valve Software revealed the native VR support during Unity’s Vision Summit 2016 in Hollywood, the “definitive event for innovators in AR/VR.” Valve said that it will be delivering talks during the event, and providing every attending developer with an HTC Vive Pre. The actual consumer model doesn’t ship until April 2016, although customers can begin pre-ordering headsets on February 29.