The virtual reality movement is largely in its infancy, and that means that the people making the early hardware and software will essentially determine how the industry plays out down the road. When it comes to high-end VR, systems costing close to a thousand dollars and boasting incredible power and fidelity are at the top of the heap, despite their high price. Between the two main competitors, the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, the inevitable war over the burgeoning market is starting to look somewhat like the console wars in the video game world. Between exclusive titles and near-constant one-upping from both sides, HTC has announced today that they’re looking to get third party developers in on creating accessories and peripherals for the Vive.
The way they’re looking to get developers on board is by opening up their handcrafted OpenVR, made in conjunction with game development legend Valve, who helped them in the development of the Vive. By extending OpenVR to third party developers, Valve engineer Alan Yates says that HTC and Valve have opened up a world of possibilities that “will result in new and innovative experiences”. Opening up the API will allow third party developers to make peripherals and accessories that integrate very deeply with the Vive, which means that things like a full control panel for a giant robot game, VR gloves, and accessories that mimic in-game items like weapons are all fair game now. To add fuel to the fire, HTC will be offering resources and training to interested developers on the Vive’s website.
HTC CEO Cher Wang expressed her excitement over the deal, saying that the incoming wave of innovation and revolution in the VR space as a result will be “amazing to watch”, and that consumers and developers will benefit greatly from the wealth of new VR experiences that are sure to come of the deal. The HTC Vive is a full-room system, which means that peripherals crafted for it have a lot of room to play with, and could even go beyond room-scale, in the case of accessories targeting specialized markets. As with any other venture in the very young field of VR, only time will tell how this will go over, what will come of it, and who will come out on top.