PC gaming hegemony Valve are offering their Vive VR headset, a direct competitor to the existing Oculus Rift, to several developers free of charge.
In what is presumably a canny effort to popularize their new hardware and secure content within the very small market already controlled, de facto, by the Rift, Valve will provide a limited number of studios with free developer kits sometime this spring. This situation is not understood to be permanent, and it is likely that future developers will still need to license their devkits.
This runs counter to the Oculus strategy, which saw developers and overeager consumers spend thousands of dollars for the earliest Rifts. Though some of these units made their way to Youtube personalities and may have popularized the company, Valve will be keeping a tighter grip on their units and plan to individually approve developers, who intend to make a game with it and request one. Of course, Valve has the financial largesse to eat the associated costs when gifting kits to qualified devs, something that the crowdfunded Rift could never have managed. Will that extra level of capability push the Vive into the position of leading VR gear?
Early reports about the Vive have already portrayed it as a higher-end, higher-price refinement on the VR headset model that Rift introduced years ago. The Vive is the most recent addition to Valve family, which has recently seen Steam grow to include the SteamOS and Steam Controller. Although the Vive is the only product not to reference gaseous water, it is still poised to be the most impactful yet, excepting Steam itself, and could mark a major turn in both the VR industry and Valve's place in the technology market.
What're your thoughts? Would you rather use Vive than Rift? Going to ask for a Devkit? Tell us below.