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Valve Working On Three Full-Length Virtual Reality Games

The company that brought you Half-Life, Team Fortress 2, Portal, and Dota 2 is hard at work on not one but three virtual reality games, according to Valve president and living meme Gabe Newell.

During a roundtable discussion about the state of the virtual reality industry, Newell described the three new projects as "full games," and not extended tech demos like Valve's previous virtual reality title, The Lab. The new games are being developed using Unity and Valve's proprietary Source 2 game engine, and will release on Valve's own virtual reality system, the Vive.

While describing Valve's reasons for collaborating with HTC to create the Vive, Newell compared Valve to Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, who often helps design both Nintendo's hardware and its software, allowing him to make sure that his games take advantage of Nintendo's systems' strengths. "What we can do now is to be designing hardware at the same time that we're designing software," Newell says. "Our sense is that that's going to allow us to actually build much better entertainment experiences for people"

HTC and Valve's Vive launched in April, 2016 and retails for $799. Unlike its primary competitors, the Oculus Rift and Sony's PlayStation VR, the Vive supports "room scale" virtual reality, in which a pair of cameras to track players' movements in real space and translate those motions into the game. The Vive's unique controllers and its room scale capabilities earned positive reviews, but the headset's high price and its demanding real estate requirements (Vive users need an open 15' by 15' space to get the most out of the system) are considered high barriers to entry for all but the most dedicated fans.

Still, the Vive sold 140,000 units in its first six months on the market and made a profit, despite Newell's insistence that "hardware's actually traditionally been a lousy low-margin business." Currently, virtual reality is more of a novelty than a fully-fledged gaming solution, and interested consumers might still want to wait before picking up a Vive or another headset—although if one of Valve's upcoming games happens to be the long-awaited Half-Life 3, all bets are off.