Valve just made watching 360-degree videos much easier in VR

Valve has released a beta version of Steam 360 Video Player, a native player so that users can easily watch immersive videos on their VR headsets. 

360-degree videos aren’t quite as involved as the full VR gaming experience where you can move around and interact with the world around you, but are gaining popularity, with Facebook and YouTube integrating 360-degree videos into their platforms. 

Up until now users wanting to watch 360-degree videos on the HTC Vive have had to install additional software, like Virtual Desktop which was time consuming and laborious.  

Now Engadget reports that Valve has released Steam 360 Video Player, which not only makes 360-degree video native to the platform, taking out much of the time and effort associated with watching the immersive video format, but also ads some really useful features.

I can't do it captain, I don't have the power

The Steam store will include Feature Films, Series, Episodic, and Tutorial Content that you can select with a simple click within the VR experience. 

As well offering the ability to play downloaded videos, the update also allows users to stream video, thus saving the time it would take having to download the entire file before starting to watch your footage.

Of course, the size of the video file on a 360-degree video is significantly larger than a standard video file because of the area of ‘screen’ occupied by image. This means that streaming is going to require significant bandwidth. In its Q&A about the new function, Valve say that “video quality will automatically adjust based on your available download bandwidth”.

At the moment the player is only for VR headsets but there is apparently a desktop version on its way soon which will allow users to use a mouse to look around. 

There are already a few videos available to try out on the platform, including the traumatic promo for Alien Covenant, Alien: Covenant In Utero, where you can experience the birth of a Xenomorph from the point of view of the Xenomorph.

Andrew London

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.