“We’re trying to reduce the cost of VR.”
VR, as it stands, seems to be an extremely high end proposition. You either have to spend hundreds of dollars on a high end PC (and then another $600-$800 on getting either an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive), or you spend $400 for a PS4 console (and then another $400 for the PlayStation VR), or you stick with the low end mobile solutions.
But Valve are hoping to change that- while their HTC Vive SteamVR solution is currently extremely demanding and high end, they are hoping to eventually have VR running on GPUs from 2012- in his advanced rendering talk at GDC, Valve’s Alex Vlachos discussed Valve’s plans to release a rendering plugin in the coming weeks for Unity. This would cause VR to be rendered more efficiently, and for GPUs from 2012 to theoretically be able to handle it.
“As long as the GPU can hit 45 HZ we want for people to be able to run VR,” Vlachos said to UploadVR after the talk. “We’ve said the recommended spec is a 970, same as Oculus, but we do want lesser GPUs to work. We’re trying to reduce the cost [of VR].”
Vlachos also discussed other ways that VR could be theoretically handled by a lower end configuration, including prioritizing images that appear directly in the center of vision, rather than at the periphery. He also mentioned that VR is in general not as dense an experience graphically as high end games are, meaning that more efficient rendering techniques should be able to make VR run on less powerful setups.
“I can run Aperture [a graphically rich Valve-built VR experience] on a 680 without dropping frames at a lower quality, and, for me, that’s enough of a proof of concept,” Vlachos said. “Most art we’re seeing in VR isn’t as dense as that. So we should be pretty good to go…everything should be able to support that low-end hardware. But we need the right safety nets in place.”
It sounds like Valve would really like to bring down the entry costs to VR- which, as they stand right now, are still prohibitively high for most people. Since they also seem to be offering the best and most complete VR solution, if they could make it more accessible to the mass market, it would be beneficial to the medium at large.