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Free Unreal and Unity plugin Steam Audio will let sounds bounce around virtual environments

Valve Anti-Cheat changes

Valve-owned company Impulsonic have announced Steam Audio, the next generation of Phonon spatial audio tools. 

Check out our list of the best headsets to take full advantage of your audio. 

Steam Audio has been in development for a long time, and is backed up by years of research. It will benefit all videogames, but particularly virtual reality experiences.

Basically, the tech allows audio to interact with your environment, bouncing off the geometry in scenes, mimicking how sounds are heard in real life.

Have a look at this short example:

There are a bunch more examples of the tech’s uses over on Steam.

The SDK that supports it is free for any developers to use, with no royalty payments required. It also supports Windows, Linux, Max, and Android, and there will be no restrictions on VR devices or digital distribution platforms.

In other words, Valve will let developers use the tech on Oculus Rift, not just the Vive.

Currently, the tech has been announced for both Unity and Unreal, with the former supported straight away and the latter coming soon.

“Adding Steam Audio to the arsenal of tools available to Unity developers gives them an easy solution for extending the acoustic depths of their VR and desktop creations, and is the latest result of our collaboration with Valve,” said Tony Parisi, Head of VR/AR Strategy at Unity Technologies.

Epic Games will be demoing Steam Audio at GDC next week, showing off its application in Unreal-built games.

“As a new plugin for the new Unreal Audio Engine, Steam Audio fundamentally extends its capabilities and provides a multi-platform solution to game audio developers who want to create realistic and high-quality sound propagation, reverberation modelling, and binaural spatialisation for their games,” said Aaron McLeran, audio programmer at Epic Games.

The Steam Audio SDK is available now as a free beta.