Why Valve Ditched Oculus Rift and Partnered with HTC

Valve’s announcement of their own VR headset, built in partnership with HTC, felt right out of the blue.

After all, the Oculus Rift team has been plugging away at their tech for years, and Valve has seemed pretty enthusiastic about it in the past. Then all of a sudden, Valve announces that they’ve got their own competing device in the works, and it will be ready before the end of the year?

So what happened?

Graham Smith, RPS managing editor and The Crate & Crowbar podcast host, spoke to an HTC employee at GDC recently. According to the unnamed employee, Valve was behind the Oculus Rift until Facebook purchased the company, at which point, Oculus became a lot more difficult to work with. Valve apparently decided, screw it, we’ll just build our own VR device then.

How did HTC get involved?

Well according to this guy, via Graham Smith again, HTC was actually the one to approach Valve, after employees from the two companies met at Steam Dev Days last year.

It seems that both companies were working independently on their own VR headsets. Valve was lacking in hardware expertise though, while HTC had no idea what it was doing with gaming software. Talk about a meet cute.

“That’s really how it came together,” Jeff Gattis, HTC director of marketing told BizJournals. “Then you couple that with [the fact] that we’re both local companies here — literally five minutes apart from each other in Bellevue — and it makes it a really nice working relationship. … I don’t know how we would do this if we weren’t both local companies, quite frankly.

“Literally, we shuttle back and forth between their [Valve’s] offices daily. Many times we’ll go to their offices and work there the entire day. Even all the way through to the marketing piece of this, we’re collaborating.”

When will we get our hands on the device?

November is the word on the street for the release of the HTC Vive, although developer kits will be going out in the next few months.

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