Valve cancelled its VirtualLink cable for the Index VR headset and refunded customers the purchase price.
The USB-C-based connection between PC and VR headset would have provided more convenience with a single connection to the PC instead of the current solution. On the Valve Index that means two wires connected to the computer plus one more to a power outlet. In emails to customers Valve provided the following explanation for cancellation of the product:
For multiple technical reasons we no longer believe that the product would deliver that added convenience. Foremost on that list is reliability. Our current testing indicates the VR connection may fail to establish in a reliable manner. Additionally, Virtual Link technology has not been widely adopted by manufacturers, laptops in particular (where a single connection could be the most beneficial), translating to very few PCs having viable ports for the connection.
The Future Of VirtualLink
While those reasons make sense it is still frustrating to enthusiasts who bought a graphics card with VirtualLink expecting imminent arrival of broad support by manufacturers. Of course, VR headset manufacturers are also hard at work on wireless solutions between between PCs and VR headsets. Wireless connections, however, are generally not able to match the throughput and reliability of wired ones. Still, development is underway to make the hop to wireless PC-powered VR because going untethered can have a huge effect on comfort and sustained immersion. Future VR headsets will likely have far higher requirements for processing and rendering and VirtualLink could still be the way all that extra data makes its way to VR headsets.
With this announcement from Valve, however, it becomes an obvious question whether VirtualLink will ever see broad support. “We regret that this cancellation did not happen sooner and apologize for any inconvenience,” Valve wrote in its message.
Did you buy a graphics card with support for the connection? Please share in the comments which card it was and how you feel about this news.