Tech

$1,000 Valve Index becomes 2nd most popular VR headset on Steam

Why it matters: The Oculus Quest 2 has been available for nearly a year on the market, where it’s cemented its place as the most used virtual reality headset on Steam. That’s not too surprising given its attractive price point of $300, but what is curious is the much pricier VR device that’s managed to climb to second place in the charts.

Valve revealed (via Road to VR) that its Index headset is now used by 17.5 percent of virtual reality users on Steam. It replaces the discontinued Oculus Rift S, which falls to third place with a 17.21 percent share. Facebook’s Quest 2 displays its staying power as the most used VR headset with a 33.19 percent share.

As for the Index specifically, it’s an impressive feat when considering its high price point. Released more than two years ago, consumers will have to shell out $1,000 to get their hands on the headset because of the associated extras — controllers and base station — required for it to function fully.

The Index was used by 17.63 percent — its record high thus far — of virtual reality users in October 2020, placing it third behind the Rift S at 24.64 percent, followed by the original Vive at 19.17 percent. The pricey device nearly rose to a second-place spot in January 2020, but the Oculus Quest 2 took it instead due to its data debuting — base models starting at $300 makes it a much more affordable option.

Valve’s headset has also never been discounted from its $1,000 price tag. Coupled with the fact that it’s more than two years old, for it to reach second place at all is quite remarkable. It overcame supply issues as well earlier on, with demand remaining consistent since its mid-2019 launch — regularly occupying a space among the ten highest-grossing products on Steam.

The number of users utilizing a VR headset on Steam grew from 1.74 percent to 1.8 percent. That slight uptick in growth shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise when considering VR headset adoption has been fluctuating since May. The slowdown could be attributed to the lack of any major VR game releases since Half-Life: Alyx launched in March 2020. Still, Valve could be working on another headset codenamed Deckard.

Related reading: AMD bounces back in latest Steam survey

Another reason why the technology hasn’t quite had a major impact yet is the health implications; a developer experienced in the VR field warned of severe eyesight damage. However, with tech giants like Apple reportedly working on their own devices, the emerging tech could be here to stay.

Virtual reality might be missing its moment, but Valve’s next foray in the consumer hardware market is one that may change the landscape of handheld gaming forever: anticipation mounts for the Steam Deck, due for a release in December. With PC gaming coming out of the shadow of the console market, the upcoming handheld gaming system is looking to replicate the immense success Nintendo has enjoyed with the Switch.

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