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Today Valve made quite a big announcement about the future of VR, including an entire platform being dropped.

In a really short post on the official SteamVR page on Steam, Valve said "SteamVR has ended OSX support so our team can focus on Windows and Linux." with there now being a legacy branch of SteamVR for macOS. This is not long after the release of SteamVR 1.11, the "Spring Cleaning" update on April 20.

Seems odd to see such a big shift announced so abruptly, with no other reasoning. Worth noting though, Valve's own hardware with the Valve Index was never stated as supported on macOS, only "Windows 10, SteamOS, Linux". It's always sad when a platform gets support for anything dropped, which we as Linux gamers know too well, but in this case it's actually a boost for Linux for once.

With Valve now having more resources for Linux (and Windows), we might now see an increase in attention on SteamVR for Linux which has been quite rough. It's also great to see other areas of Valve call out Linux specifically as being a focus for them. We also have the Linux version of Half-Life: Alyx with Vulkan support coming hopefully sometime soon.

Since Linux is open source, as are the drivers for AMD and Intel, it makes sense to continue Linux support. Valve can (and already do) experiment a lot with Linux and pay contractors to work on various things. At times, they can do things quicker on Linux than they can on Windows (and vice versa - some bits don't work on Linux).

As of the March data from the monthly opt-in Steam Survey, 1.29% of people surveyed had a VR kit. The most popular being Oculus Rift S with the HTC Vive close behind. The Valve index already captured quite a big chunk though too at over 10%.

What do you think to this news?

In related news, Collabora have been progressing well on their fully open source OpenXR runtime Monado.

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ageres 1 May, 2020
Quoting: CreakI am mostly worried about the reason why they dropped VR for an entire platform that has more users than Linux's. Obviously, financially, it makes little sense.
I think it's obvious. Apple computers are expensive but weak and aren't intended as a gaming platform. AFAIK, Proton is not available on MacOS too. Though I don't know why have Apple decided to ignore videogames, but that's what Apple always do - deciding for their customers what they are allowed to do and what they are not.
Arten 1 May, 2020
Quoting: CreakI am mostly worried about the reason why they dropped VR for an entire platform that has more users than Linux's. Obviously, financially, it makes little sense.

We can speculate as much as we want, we don't know the facts behind this choice. It is nice to see they chose Linux over MacOS, but why? Put in another, more positive way: why Linux won over MacOS?

Finally, this kind of decision may bite Valve back because it opens the door to a competitor that would support all three platforms.

It is all very hypothetical, that is why a rational of this decision would have been nice.

From my point of view reason is clear. Look on Steam hw Survey mac's graphics cards. Only minority has something dedicated plus only metal as graphic API, there is no chance that it can support VR games for majority mac gamers in near future.
Liam Dawe 1 May, 2020
Quoting: jrt
QuoteSeems odd to see such a big shift announced so abruptly, with no other reasoning.

I don't think that this was abruptly. The Index never listed MacOS as an official platform and indicated therefore a MacOS drop for months. The reason they support linux as much as they do is to get away from Windows getting more restrictive and Apple walled-garden like. Proton also does not officially support MacOS, making it a significantly worse choice for VR gaming than Linux. Apples decision to not support Vulkan was the nail in the coffin imho.
Sure but Valve also helped to liberate MoltenVK, specifically so they could use Vulkan themselves on macOS. Noted that yes, Index never mentioned macOS but this news still did come out of nowhere with no prior other hints or discussion that I can see.
mike456 1 May, 2020
oh well if Apple would support Vulkan...
Liam Dawe 1 May, 2020
Update: Added a wee bit more info and thoughts.
Mohandevir 1 May, 2020
In case of VR Linux... Linux is a niche and VR is a niche
In case of VR MacOS... MacOS is a niche, VR is a niche and having a MacOS VR capable hardware is probably the nichest of the niches.

It's starting to be a lot of probability layers, against MacOS. Add to this the fact that the Mac ecosystem is a walled garden and does not support Vulkan natively... Waste of time?

Last edited by Mohandevir on 1 May 2020 at 4:30 pm UTC
mirv 1 May, 2020
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It's not just Vulkan that MacOSX needs - it's extensions needed for VR (i.e full driver support), and possibly some tweaks to their rendering management system (no idea here, but wouldn't surprise me) to reduce framebuffer to display delays. This kind of thing Valve has helped to fund for GNU/Linux desktop as well, though it's less well known.

I don't know enough of Metal, and don't care to, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had very little VR support. Then there's the amount of Apple hardware that can support VR to a reasonable performance level for gaming, and the number of mac games that provide VR; I'm guessing it's quite a niche market.

Compare that to the range of available hardware that could potentially have GNU/Linux on it (i.e everyone running VR via Windows has the potential to try it on GNU/Linux as well), that Valve can directly invest in and direct development on GNU/Linux (as they've already done and continue to do), and it kind of makes sense to drop OSX but keep GNU/Linux. And obviously keep Windows support, with GNU/Linux as a threat to keep Microsoft from abusing their position.
Shmerl 1 May, 2020
macOS is a DOA system for gaming. Quite expected. And Apple were doubly dumb by shooting themselves in the foot with their Metal NIH. Apple management doesn't care about gaming in the least.

Last edited by Shmerl on 1 May 2020 at 4:47 pm UTC
CatKiller 1 May, 2020
Quoting: CreakI am mostly worried about the reason why they dropped VR for an entire platform that has more users than Linux's. Obviously, financially, it makes little sense.

We can speculate as much as we want.


Valve have been the primary driver behind Vulkan, from the glNext days. Apple aren't the least bit interested in Vulkan, using Metal exclusively. When Ubuntu wanted to drop maintenance of 32-bit libraries without a robust containerisation system already in place, Valve opted to only support those distros that could keep everything working. In the same situation, Apple just said "too bad, so sad." Linux doesn't bring Valve a lot of money, but makes Valve's job a lot easier. Apple doesn't bring Valve a lot of money, and makes Valve's job a lot harder. Valve wanted a backup plan should Windows ever be untenable; Apple have made it clear that macOS isn't going to be it. If Valve are going to create a VR future, and they seem to be interested in that, it's too much of an uphill struggle to involve macOS in that.
Pinguino 1 May, 2020
Quoting: ageres
Quoting: cusa123What makes me angry about valve is that it is not available worldwide. I want to buy one in my country but it doesn't arrive or there isn't one.
I want to go to linux!
You must be confusing SteamVR with Valve Index.

What is SteamVR, then?
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