While Valve already discussed some of their planned announcements for this year's annual Game Developers Conference, their presentation still contained some surprises.
Following the announcements that both Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5 are now both free to the general public, Valve announced Source 2. The long awaited successor to Valve's nearly 11 year-old Source engine, will soon be made available to developers and content creators for free. The only requirement to use Source 2 is that the developers launch the game on Steam, but the games are allowed to be launched in other places as well.
In contrast, developers who create games with Unreal Engine 4 that earn above $3,000, per quarter, in gross revenue will be charged a 5% royalty fee to the engine's parent company for any gross revenue that goes over that amount. Unity 5 requires a subscription rate to developers making over $100,000.
The original Source Engine, which was first released in 2004 and was iterated on over the last 10 years, was used to make several games such as the fan favorites Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead, as well as more recent games like Titanfall and Blade Symphony, both from 2014.
"With Source 2, our focus is increasing creator productivity. Given how important user generated content is becoming, Source 2 is designed not for just the professional developer, but enabling gamers themselves to participate in the creation and development of their favorite games," said Valve software developer Jay Stelly during the conference.
Also announced at GDC was a Vulkan-compatible version of the Source 2 engine which will help developers better utilize the engine's graphics hardware.
Valve also introduced the Steam-Link, a device that will allow Steam users to stream Steam content from any Steam Machine, Windows PC, Mac or Linux PC on the same network. The Steam-Link is set for release in November and will sell for $50 each. Also to be released in November are several Steam Machines which will sell for as much as most gaming consoles, and a final version of the Steam Controller, which utilizes one analog stick and two trackpads for movement.
The original prototype for Steam Machines, showcased last year, featured a GTX Titan, and an i7 Core processor pushing the power. While high priced options still remain such as the $5000 Falcon NW Tiki, Valve seems to have reconsidered where it wants to focus with the Steam Machine. There now appears to be a focus on the lower end devices such as the Steam Link, and devices more in the $400 range where Valve believes they can outperform the similarly costed consoles
Also displayed at the conference was Valve's new virtual reality headset, which will be available to developers in spring of this year. HTC, whom Steam has partnered with to produce the headset, will ship their Vive headsets to consumers in the months following.
Being included with the virtual reality release are the VR input system and the Lighthouse tracking system.
"In order to have a high quality VR experience, you need high resolution, high speed tracking," said Valve's chief pharologist Alan Yates. "Lighthouse gives us the ability to do this for an arbitrary number of targets at a low enough BOM cost that it can be incorporated into TVs, monitors, headsets, input devices, or mobile devices."
Valve intends to make Lighthouse available to hardware manufacturers for free.
Are you excited to see Source 2 in action? Plan on buying a Steam-Link? Curious about the Virtual Reality headset? Let us know in the comments section.