HTC Vive price, release date, features and specs: Gamer hacks No Man’s Sky to work on HTC Vive

Hot new game gets the VR treatment

Steam VR is Valve’s answer to virtual reality devices like PlayStation VR and the Oculus Rift. Long rumoured to be in the pipeline, Valve’s first virtual reality headset was initially unveiled at Game Developer's Conference 2015.

Gamers everywhere remain hugely excited by the prospect of Valve, operator of the biggest distribution platform in the world and a critically acclaimed developer in its own right, entering the VR space.

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HTC Vive latest news

18/08/2016: An enterprising gamer has managed to port hit space game No Man’s Sky onto the HTC Vive.

YouTube user Hoopermation VR managed to convert the game using VorpX, a tool used to convert content into VR. The hack means that there are some performance issues so the full-on VR experience is not quite there. That said, the YouTube user said he couldn’t believe the port worked as well as it did.

Sean Murray, head of No Man's Sky developers Hello Games, has previously said that the game would be a "perfect fit" for VR platforms, but has been extremely vague about whether or not it will actually recieve VR support. 

Released on both the PS4 and PC, No Man's Sky would theoretically be compatible with the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, as well as Sony's upcoming PlayStation VR headset.

The YouTube user has posted instructions for HTC Vive users on how to port the game onto the VR headset on Reddit, although owners should note that the mod is unofficial and may adversely affect your experience.

09/08/2016: HTC has announced a hub for people to discover the latest content on its VR device, Vive.

Fittingly called Viveport, the hub collects virtual reality content across various categories – 360 video, news, sport, health, education, shopping and travel.

With a developer beta due to come available in the next few weeks, Viveport will also include an update to Vive Home, HTC Vive users’ personalised desktop-like display of their games and features.

Viveport will roll out to users in 30 countries from autumn this year, HTC said, inviting both developers and users to try it out.

Its success will rely on content developers putting their games on the platform, HTC admitted. It referred to vague “monetisation options” and other new features to encourage developers to support the hub.

“Viveport will play an important role in giving access to virtual reality experiences that will enhance our daily lives and the way we connect with friends and family,” Rikard Steiber, senior vice president of Viveport, said in a blog post. “The Vive team and our customers cannot wait to see what new experiences will be shared by our partners in the developer community.”

05/08/2016: Intel may be planning to release a depth-sensing camera peripheral for the HTC Vive, according to a tweet from one of the company's engineers.

Photos of the device were tweeted out by Intel VR engineer Dimitri Diakopoulos, with the caption "industrial design team nailed it".

According to Diakopoulos' now-deleted tweets, the add-on is a prototype, and he told Upload VR that it could be used for hand and controller tracking, as well as real-time environment scanning for hazard detection.

There are six cameras inside, which look to be similar to the company's RealSense depth-sensing cameras. The module weighs about 10 grams and attaches to the front of the headset, with Diakopoulos claiming that it maintains the balance point of the base unit.

While the Vive already has a built-in, pass-through camera, it can't yet be used for something as sophisticated as hand-tracking. Companies like Leap Motion are making progress towards hand-tracking for VR, but are yet to fully integrate it with a headset.

It's currently unknown whether the peripheral will be released as a consumer add-on or primarily as a developer tool, but the fact that Diakopoulos' tweets have now been deleted indicates we may be about to find out.

Intel's Developer Conference is scheduled to begin on 16 August, so it's starting to look likely that we'll get a better look at whatever this is - along with Intel's other plans for VR and AR technology - in a few weeks.

01/08/2016: The HTC Vive is going up in price, and it’s all thanks to Brexit.

The South Korean company’s blog for the virtual reality device confirmed the price hike on Friday, blaming the UK’s decision to leave the EU for forcing its hand.

Previously £689, from today the HTC Vive costs £759, after Brexit caused sterling to plummet to a 31-year low valuation against the US dollar – it is currently worth just $1.32. It has also devalued significantly against South Korea's own currency, the won, hitting a 10-year low of ₩1,461 today (value at market close).

The blog post read: “HTC continuously monitors and adjusts pricing to ensure we are providing our customers with the best value possible.  Due to recent currency valuation changes and the current value of the GBP we are adjusting the price of the HTC Vive in the UK to £759 + P&P.  The adjustment will come into effect on Monday 1st August. 

“We are committed to providing the best possible VR experience with Vive and would like to thank our UK customers and partners for their continued support.”

The news comes after OnePlus put up the price of the OnePlus 3 by £20 to £329.

04/07/2016: HTC Vive is approaching the 100,000 sales mark, three months after launch, according to Steam data (via Road to VR).

Tracking the three games pre-loaded onto HTC Vive headsets, Tilt Brush, Fantastic Contraption and Job Simulator, SteamSpy data gives a rough total for how many Vive units its creator Steam has sold.

Tilt Brush, the most popular title of the three pre-loaded games, has been downloaded 94,911 times, Road to VR reports.

With a margin of error of 8,213, this means as many as 103,124 Vive units have sold, or that just 86,698 have.

However, as Road to VR reports, some factors may push the figure higher than it should be – such as SteamSpy’s methodology – it counts Steam accounts that own the games, which could include people with Vive development kits. 

22/06/2016: Valve's VR division makes up around a third of the company, hardware engineer Alan Yates has revealed.

"I was super fortunate to start at Valve right around the time Michael Abrash had begun the AR/VR research team," he told a thread on the HTC Vive subreddit. "It has since grown to encompass about a third of the company."

Yates was effusive about the pleasures of working on VR at Valve. "Short of human space flight or life sciences," he said, "I can't imagine working on something of more significance right now."

He also added that Valve is not resting on its laurels after the launch of the Vive, stating that "the key individuals that solved most of the really hard technological problems and [who] facilitated this generation of consumer headsets are still here working on the next generation."

13/06/2016: Wastelanders rejoice - Bethesda has announced that a VR version of Fallout 4 is coming to the HTC Vive.

Announced at the company's E3 presentation, the game comes courtesy of Bethesda's new, dedicated VR division, which is also producing some as-yet-unspecified VR content for Doom.

The company has yet to reveal how Fallout 4 will work in VR, or what control method it will use. As an open-world RPG, the standard version of Fallout 4 involves a lot of walking around from place to place.

However, outside of the designated playing area, the HTC Vive is not well suited to moving around, and travelling over large distances has proved a challenging obstacle to many VR developers.

Many of the game's core mechanics - such as the VATS system which assists with combat targeting - also appear ill-suited to immersive VR, and may need substantial tweaking prior to the title's 2017 release.

09/06/2016: HTC has just unveiled the HTC Vive Business Edition, aiming to attract enterprise users with a specialised commercial offering.

As well as all the standard features of the consumer edition, the Vive BE will include commercial licensing, a dedicated support line and a 12-month limited warranty.

It will be priced at £849, and will launch in the UK, US, Canada, Germany and France in June, with a global launch to follow. Businesses will also be able to bulk-order the Vive BE for large-scale rollouts.

Although gaming is currently the most visible use-case for VR, many experts and industry analysts are predicting that key vertical markets will quickly overtake it.

"The wider implications for education are huge," said Context's UK manager Jonathan Wagstaff, adding that "other major potential markets include corporate training and retail".

Daniel O'Brien, VP of VR at HTC said, "with Vive BE, we are answering the overwhelming demand from global industries for a complete VR experience, to provide innovative solutions for their business needs. "

"Expediting the growth of partner organisations through application of Vive technology is an incredibly important part of our ongoing VR strategy, and will ensure Vive continues to be at the forefront of the enterprise sector."

"Vive's room-scale VR... is a great way for professional users to work interactively and move around within their designs," said Bob Pette, vice president of professional visualisation at Nvidia. "From design to manufacturing to medicine, virtual reality will revolutionise how business gets done."

08/06/2016: The HTC Vive will now ship to customers as soon as they order it, the company has announced.

Wait times for the headset were around 3 months for those that purchased one at launch, but consumers ordering now will have their unit dispatched within 2-3 business days of purchase.

As well as ordering directly from the HTC Vive website, US customers can also pick one up in-store from select GameStop, Micro Center and Microsoft Store locations.

These stores will also be increasing the number of outlets that feature Vive demo areas, bringing the total to 100.

"Since beginning pre-orders at the end of February and shipping in early April, we've seen incredible interest in Vive," said HTC's vice president of VR, Dan O'Brien.

"Working with our retail partners has only enhanced that momentum because more people are able to try the only truly immersive virtual reality offering on the market today."

06/06/2016: Front Defense, a virtual reality first person shooter (FPS) game for the HTC Vive has been shown off at one of the largest annual tech trade shows, Computex 2016, in HTC's home country of Taiwan.

The game, set in World War II, Front Defense is unusual for the FPS genre, which normally involves the player's character running around and advancing on the enemy. Fantahorn Studio, the game's developer, accepts that this isn't possible unless you want all kinds of mayhem to break out involving Vive-wearers running into their living room walls attempting to avoid virtual bullets. 

So it has flipped the scenario on its head - in Front Defense, it is the player who is being advanced on and who has to defend their position against attack, thus limiting the amount of movement they can (or, indeed, need) to do.

Fantahorn is an "internal startup" within HTC and this is its first game for the Vive. Given the generally positive response it has received so far, though, it probably won't be the last.

26/05/2016: Engineers at Netflix have developed a VR viewing experience for the HTC Vive.

At a biannual hack day, the engineers developed an interface which resembles a video store down to Netflix original content looking like VHS video cassettes.

Users can pick up these tapes and if they decide they want to watch them, they simply hold these items up and a screen emerges out of the walls and ceilings.

More details can be found on the Netflix Tech blog. 

16/05/2016: The HTC Vive has just gone fully wireless, thanks to French company Scalable Graphics.

In a demo video on YouTube, the company showed a user moving around the play area, untethered to the thick, unwieldy cables the Vive usually needs.

The solution, which is still in the prototype stage, is currently a mass of cables and hardware. Despite its unattractive, cobbled-together appearance, however, it appears to work.

Worn on a bandoleer, the kit connects to the headset via the default wiring, and uses 5GHz WiFi to stream data back and forth between the PC and the Vive.

Scalable Graphics is claiming a latency of 16ms, which it claims is indistinguishable from that of the wired version. The company is planning to improve this figure, however, along with the device's two-hour battery life.

While it clearly needs much more work before it gets anywhere near a finalised product, the company's solution shows an awful lot of promise, and could fix one of the Vive's most irritating and persistent problems.