As an HTC Vive user, two official stores are available when purchasing digital games online. Between Valve's SteamVR platform and the recently released Viveport, which one is best for you? Here's a breakdown of what they both offer!
Update 28 March 2017: Following a few updates on both platforms, we take a look at how these services are holding up!
What is SteamVR?
SteamVR is Valve's in-house virtual reality platform, serving as a central service for digital game distribution and multiplayer gaming. Built off from the existing Steam platform which already dominates desktop PC distribution, SteamVR allows users to gain access to hundreds of titles and other additional features within a single consistent ecosystem.
While originally a central hub for all HTC Vive content, SteamVR is now being advertised almost exclusively for gaming purposes. With established social services from their experience in the PC gaming sector, Steam VR is the ultimate destination for VR games.
Aside from game distribution, SteamVR also offers a huge range of features to multiple desktop VR headsets. With inbuilt support for both Oculus Rift and OSVR headsets, the platform offers a range of content for any VR users. You'll also be getting direct integration to access the social element of Steam's ecosystem.
Overall, SteamVR is a full-fledged gaming platform with great support for various virtual reality headsets. Although not built initially for VR, Valve has made a great effort to seamlessly integrate experiences into their ecosystem.
What is Viveport?
Viveport is a more recent platform to most HTC Vive owners, after a worldwide release shortly after the headset's debut. With SteamVR having been the central spot for virtual reality games, Viveport sets out to be a portal to interactive experiences.
Already packed with content shortly after launch, Viveport extends across both educational experiences and more traditional entertainment. This allows HTC to promote a wider range of work from independent developers, without being buried in the entire Steam library.
However, even though Viveport does offer some of its own unique content, the platform struggles to match the cohesive ecosystem already established by Steam. Whereas both SteamVR and Oculus offer a number of social features, this depth simply isn't offered by HTC's bare-bones alternative. Over time the platform has seen some minor improvements, but Viveport simply doesn't offer the functionality to be your only storefront for HTC Vive content.
What are the differences between SteamVR and Viveport content?
As previously outlined, Viveport has been pushed as the essential marketplace for all virtual reality experiences. SteamVR has focused on providing a more robust gaming experience, theoretically marking a strong divide in the content they offer. Enforcing this split has proven to be challenging, with several titles not having a clear place on either platform. This can result in a crossover between the two marketplaces, with some titles available on both services.
Pricing can also vary, with some titles spread across the two platforms at different price points. Both platforms operate independently from one another, with certain discounts and sale periods also being available exclusively at a certain store.
Viveport is also the main channel for game distribution in many Asian countries, which adds a hefty number of additional games to the store.
Which one should I use?
Although Viveport and SteamVR both offer HTC Vive content, the services are hugely different from one another. Despite that SteamVR has a wide range of features tailored at gamers, Viveport is an unmissable location for more abstract experiments for the HTC Vive. As both platforms are available for free to HTC Vive users, there's little reason to not take advantage of both services when searching for content. However, if you have to choose just one, the depth of SteamVR still stands out against Viveport's offerings.
Do you prefer SteamVR or Viveport? Make sure to let us know in the comments!