Comparing VR Frameworks: OpenXR Versus OpenVR

OpenXR Vs OpenVR

OpenXR and OpenVR are two important frameworks in the world of virtual and augmented reality development. OpenXR, developed by the Khronos Group, is an open-source standard designed to simplify the development of XR applications across multiple platforms. OpenVR, created by Valve Corporation, provides an open standard that allows developers to use any PC with a standard graphics card for creating and distributing VR content.

We now compare OpenXR and OpenVR, highlighting their features, compatibility, and how they help developers create immersive experiences. We’ll explore how these frameworks support different platforms, their use cases, and the benefits they offer to the VR/AR ecosystem.

Developer(s)Khronos GroupValve Corporation
Stable Release1.0.34 / February 16, 2024April 30, 2015
LicenseApache License 2.0BSD 3-Clause “New” or “Revised” License
TypeVirtual reality and augmented reality APIVirtual reality
ArchitectureProvides API for developers targeting VR/AR hardwareActs as interface between VR hardware and software
ImplementationsMultiple platforms and products conform to the standardDeveloped for SteamVR platform
Game Engine SupportSupported in Epic Unreal Engine, Blender, Unity, Godot, Autodesk VRED, StereoKit, NVIDIA OmniverseN/A
Browser SupportGoogle Chrome and Microsoft Edge with WebXR supportN/A
RoadmapProgress driven by development of extensions to core APIN/A
Additional NotesAims to solve AR/VR fragmentationDesigned for multiple vendor support, replaced SteamVR’s previous API

Using OpenXR Makes App Development Easier

Using OpenXR, developers will be able to more easily write one set of code that would run on any platform.

On the other hand, OpenVR is an open standard that allows any computer with a standard PC graphics card to be used for development and distribution of virtual reality content.

Using OpenVR saves money over proprietary standards because companies do not have to develop different content, release several versions of the same game, and worry about customers only being able to run specific types of games on their PCs.

Similarities And Differences Between OpenXR And OpenVR

  1. OpenXR and OpenVR are not direct competitors but rather serve different purposes in the VR/AR ecosystem. Both provide APIs that enable developers to create applications for multiple VR/AR headsets and controllers.
  2. OpenXR is an open, royalty-free standard developed by the Khronos Group, a consortium of hardware and software companies. It is not owned or controlled by any particular company, making it an open platform that can be used by any entity. OpenXR aims to unify the development process for VR and AR applications across various platforms and devices.
  3. On the other hand, OpenVR is a proprietary API developed by Valve Corporation, primarily designed for the SteamVR ecosystem and Valve’s own hardware, such as the Valve Index. While it supports multiple headsets and controllers, it is a closed-source platform controlled by Valve.
  4. UPDATE: In November 2023, Valve revealed its new Steam Deck OLED. It’s the first hardware update since they launched the handheld gaming device last year. Valve is focused on handhelds and developing Steam OS, but they’re also still working on VR.
  5. OpenXR is a ratified standard that has been officially released and is actively maintained by the Khronos Group. It is not in a pre-release state anymore and has seen widespread adoption by various hardware manufacturers and software developers.
  6. Both OpenXR and OpenVR offer cross-platform compatibility, allowing developers to create applications that work on multiple VR/AR devices. However, OpenXR’s open nature and backing from a consortium of companies make it a more widely adopted and supported standard, particularly for cross-platform development.

Difference Between OpenVR and OpenXR Compatible Devices

Many times, the two are used interchangeably. However, the two are significantly different.

The OpenVR and OpenXR both are competitive standards: they are both open source codebases that allow developers to create a broad range of devices that would be compatible with virtual reality or augmented reality.

OpenXR is a standard that allows for virtual and augmented reality devices to be connected. The OpenVR is a standard that allows for virtual reality devices to be connected.

Platforms Supported By OpenXR

  • Windows Mixed Reality
  • HoloLens 2
  • Oculus
  • SteamVR

Platforms Supported By OpenVR

  • Windows PC
  • PlayStation 5
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox Series X
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Google Stadia
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • AR
  • VR
  • Linux
  • SteamOS
  • HTML5

In summary, OpenXR and OpenVR serve different purposes in the VR/AR development landscape, with OpenXR offering a more open and cross-platform approach, while OpenVR is more tightly integrated with Valve’s hardware and software ecosystem.

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Derek Anchan

    I'm Derek Anchan, a tech writer with a diploma in Industrial Electronics Engineering and 14 years of online writing experience. I specialize in SEO and technical writing, making complex topics easy to understand for all kinds of readers. Let's demystify tech together, one article at a time!

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