Valve’s transition toward the open standard OpenXR API from its earlier OpenVR efforts is gaining steam as the company announced they “expect new features on SteamVR to appear on the OpenXR side.”
Valve recently rolled out initial support for the standard in a beta release while saying today that more than 4000 titles released on Steam in the last four years and that “OpenVR applications will continue to work not just on hardware that exists today, but also on the headsets of tomorrow.”
“The challenge we as an industry have faced with many of these titles is that for developers targeting multiple VR platforms, it requires extra time and effort to build polished applications that work across SDKs. In order to solve this and support the next generation of VR applications, we are moving forward to the OpenXR API,” a Valve announcement explains. “OpenXR was created with the goal to enable engines and developers to target a single non-proprietary SDK, easing the friction in creating polished VR experiences. Valve has worked closely with VR hardware vendors, game engine developers, and graphics hardware providers to develop this new API and we believe it represents a big step forward in cross-vendor application support.”
Future “new features on SteamVR” then will utilize OpenXR “rather than as new OpenVR” application programming interfaces, the announcement explains.
Though there are big differences between Android-powered and PC-based VR systems, OpenXR carries wide industry support and should generally make it easier for developers to target multiple platforms with a single API. Facebook’s Oculus Quest Android-based standalone includes “prototype” support for OpenXR and Rift is also expected to gain support for the API as well.