HTC’s Vive VR headset will be free to qualified developers

Vive, HTC's VR headset. Photo: HTC

Vive, HTC’s VR headset. Photo: HTC

If there’s one way to encourage developers to build software for a brand new device, it’s to give them that device absolutely free. That’s what Valve and HTC are doing with the new Vive VR headset, which won’t cost a penny if you’re a qualified developer.

Valve and HTC have already been providing Vive Developer Edition kits to select development studios, Ars Technica reports, including Bossa Studios, the makers of Surgeon Simulator and I Am Bread; Fireproof Games, makes of The Room; and others.

But while other developers hoping to build titles for the device have had to wait for it, they will at least get Vive free when more Developer Edition units are available.

Valve spokesperson Doug Lombardi told Ars Technica that interested developers, “big or small,” will soon — as early as next week — be able to apply for Vive via a new website. Those who qualify will then get a headset sent out to them free of charge in the spring.

Lombardi hinted that Valve and HTC could charge for Developer Edition headsets later on, but they “will be free, at least initially.” In addition to the Vive headset itself, the developer package will include two controllers and two base stations.

While virtual reality is still a niche market, a number of big names are already building headsets in the hope that theirs will be the one that sparks the take off. As well as HTC, Samsung, Sony, Facebook, and others are building VR headsets.

Right now, the one that becomes most popular will likely be the one with the best software, then. And a great way to encourage development is to provide software makers with free devices they can play with and test. But HTC isn’t the first to have that idea.

Sony has also been distributing its own Project Morpheus headsets to selected software partners worldwide ahead of a rumored release later this year.