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Why GDC 2015 will be a glimpse into PC gaming's future

Hayden Dingman | March 2, 2015
Heart racing. Vision a bit blurry. Head starting to ache prematurely. Stress rising. Palms are sweaty. Knees weak. Arms are heavy. There's vomit on my sweater alread--wait, where were we? Oh yeah, I'm pretty stressed, which must mean GDC is right around the corner.

Heart racing. Vision a bit blurry. Head starting to ache prematurely. Stress rising. Palms are sweaty. Knees weak. Arms are heavy. There's vomit on my sweater alread — wait, where were we? Oh yeah, I'm pretty stressed, which must mean GDC is right around the corner.

Next week?

Well that came fast. And it's looking like this GDC will be surprisingly news-heavy. Everyone from Valve to Nvidia to Microsoft to your local cloud computing middleware seems to have some super-extra-top-secret-classified announcement planned for this year's iteration of what's ostensibly a developer's conference.

Oh well. We go where the news goes, and this year GDC is packed with announcements. Here's what you can look forward to next week (as well as a healthy dash of speculation on our part).

Everyone wants in on VR

There was a time not too long ago when Oculus was the only company doing virtual reality. Or at least the only company of note. I tried out a ton of Oculus Rift competitors last GDC and found literally every single one lacking.

It looks like that'll change this year. Valve revealed it will show off "a previously unannounced SteamVR hardware system" at GDC this year. Considering Valve and Oculus used to share R&D, that's certainly an interesting addition to the VR landscape. On the other hand, Valve's record right now when it comes to hardware is...well, nonexistent. Still.

There are also rumors that Nvidia will show off a new VR system, potentially at the event it's hosting on Tuesday night. The event promises to show off something "more than 5 years in the making" that "will redefine the future of gaming." A virtual reality unit certainly seems to fit that bill, though other rumors abound — including discussions surrounding both Tegra and GRID. (Namely, a Tegra-powered Android TV console that includes support for Nvidia's GameStream tech, which streams games locally via a GeForce GPU, and GRID, Nvidia's cloud-based gaming service.)

And we can probably expect some other familiar faces to crop up in the VR discussion this year. Razer's Open-Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) project was unveiled at CES this year and is likely to make an appearance, as is Google's Cardboard — though potentially to a lesser extent.

For something a lot of people have deemed a "fad," there sure are a lot of big names competing in virtual reality nowadays.

Revenge of the Steam Machine

GDC is also where we'll hear about Steam Machines again, for the first time since CES 2014. Or...well, whatever Steam machines are called now. Valve's announcement promises "new living room devices," which certainly lends credence to what Origin CEO Kevin Wasielewski said during CES: That the Steam Machine name is "pretty much dead."

 

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