Valve released an update to SteamVR this week that unexpectedly added new content to SteamVR Home.
Valve has been making small but useful updates to SteamVR for a long time, but especially in the past year there hasn’t been a particularly clear signal that the company was putting a lot of work into the platform.
So it was surprising to see that with the public launch of the SteamVR 1.22 update this week, the company has added a surprise: a brand new photogrammetry environment for SteamVR Home, the first-party VR social space.
The new environment is a conquest of part of the village of Fornalutx in Mallorca, which lies in the western Mediterranean.
New SteamVR Home Environment Screenshots
SteamVR users can download the new environment by subscribing to it in the Steam Workshop. Once downloaded, it will become available as a new place for you and your friends to visit in SteamVR Home.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like this piece of new content means Valve is re-motivated to work on its VR platform. As explained in the patch notes, the photos were originally taken in October 2019 – shortly after the release of the company’s Index headset. Given what we know about Valve’s unique corporate structure, it seems likely that the timing of this release just coincided with one person at the company dug up the old photos and processed them as some sort of side project.
So, nice to have a cool new scan to explore, but we don’t think it means Valve will suddenly be releasing major new updates for SteamVR.
The company has continued to work on SteamVR, albeit slowly. Over the past year, a handful of updates have been released that have made improvements to the SteamVR dashboard, added new settings for power users, and made the platform more fun with Quest headsets with Oculus Link.
Admittedly, it should have been a long time coming for a native SteamVR version of key Steam features like friends list, voice chats, a fully featured store and library, achievements, and more. SteamVR has long fallen back to the Steam ‘Big Picture’ interface designed for large screens. Unfortunately, that interface is very clunky in VR and was clearly designed for a different input modality.
In addition to adding the new SteamVR Home environment, the SteamVR 1.22 update also brought in a number of bug fixes and technical improvements previously released in beta versions of the software; you can check out the full patch notes here.