A small number of people willing to buy an expensive product can really add up, as Valve is finding with its high-end Index headset. Despite supply shortages brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic, the headset has made frequent appearances among the best selling products on Steam by revenue, including an ongoing 13 week streak in the top 5.

From a unit standpoint, it’s unlikely that the $1,000 Valve Index is selling all that many headsets compared to cheaper headsets like Oculus Quest. But from a revenue standpoint, the headset seems to be treating Valve very well.

Although Valve doesn’t share how much revenue individual products make on its platform, Steam does rank the top selling products, by revenue, each week. SteamDB maintains an archive of the weekly top 10.

With Valve Index supply ramping back up after supply disruptions, we can see that the $1,000 headset has been among the top five best selling products for 13 weeks running.

It’s worth remembering that the ranking is by revenue; to put things into perspective, each Index kit sold costs the same as about 17 games at $60 each. Still, it seems quite impressive that the headset’s revenue is ranking alongside some of the world’s best selling games. On certain weeks over its 13 week streak, Index has surpassed the weekly revenue of major games like Cyberpunk 2077Red Dead Redemption 2, and others.

Looking at the historical data, we can see how often the headset has permeated the top 10 best selling Steam products of each week, including eight separate weeks where it’s topped the charts at #1.

Given how infrequently Valve’s own Half-Life: Alyx has appeared in the top 10, we’d wager that the headset has earned the company far more revenue. Granted, profit is a different story; Valve isn’t believed to be making much profit from each Index sold, but still, a large revenue stream generated by the headset is overall a good thing for the company, as long as it’s breaking even or better.

While the headset’s placement among the top 10 best selling Steam products is certainly affected by the seasonal nature of major game releases, the long term look at the ranking likely also signals how the headset’s availability has fluctuated since release. We can see large gaps in the headset’s top 10 appearance for 6 weeks right after its release in mid-2019, as well as a 12 week gap at the start of 2020, and a 4 week gap in mid-2020.

'Halo' and 'Alien: Isolation' VR Modder Joins Microsoft's 343 Industries

In a recent interview with New Zealand’s 1 News, Valve head Gabe Newell explained how the Coronavirus pandemic hampered the company’s ability to meet the demand for the headset.

“We actually have components that are manufactured in Wuhan [where the outbreak began] and when you’re setting up your manufacturing lines it doesn’t occur to you that you’re suddenly going to be dependent on this peculiar transistor that’s sitting on one board that you can’t get,” Newell said.

“[Everyone who builds electronics] ended up running into the same problem simultaneously—you go from, ‘Oh, we’re in great shape,’ to, ‘What do you mean Apple or Microsoft just bought the next two years’ supply of this just so they could make sure they aren’t going to run out?'”

“You went from a situation where everything was getting done just in time to people buying up all the available supplies.

“[…] we’re very much manufacturing constrained.”

While the company indeed struggled to keep up with demand in 2020, supply appears to be picking up rapidly as 2021 gets underway.

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.

  • area51

    Be surprised if they have broken even and not lost money on Index. It’s sold directly to customers, eliminating the middleman, not to make extra profit but probably because there isn’t enough margin for regular retailing through distribution and retail stores.

    Then all those warranties are not inexpensive, currently RMAing another controller after trigger failed; the replacement will be my 16th controller since launch…add in 2 headsets, 2 tethers, 5 ear speakers… safe to say they lost money on mine, and because it’s been faulty 1/3rd of my ownersiof course I haven’t been confident buying more software titles…

    • asd

      I use my index every day rigorously for development for over e year now and have only had one drifting thumbstick….. whatever you are doing, its you whos causing these issues. wtf are you doing to go through that much hardware?????
      are your kids using it when youre not around? are you running into walls? wtf

    • I’ve only had mine since March but no issues so far.

    • wheeler

      16th controller? I don’t know how some of you pull this off (assuming you’re even telling the truth).

      I’m on a launch Index which I use every day. Only problem I’ve had just occurred recently with the left controller’s joystick drifting, which I fixed myself quite easily for just $10. The only real precaution I take is avoiding using the joystick click.

  • MosBen

    I sold my Rift CV1 a few weeks back, and I’m thinking about selling my Quest 1, though that would leave me without any VR gear at all. My plan this year was to upgrade my GTX 1070 to something a bit more modern and then upgrade my VR gear. But considering that I’m not going to be able to buy a graphics card any time soon, I’m wondering if I should skip straight to buying a new VR HMD or just commit to waiting for whatever the next generation of headsets is. The Index is getting close to 2 years old, which starts to feel like it’s going to be time for Valve to start talking about a new version at some point this year, with a release in 2022. Or, if Valve doesn’t do a new HMD, then someone will put out an HMD that well and truly eclipses it. The Reverb G2 has some compelling screens, but still seems like it falls a bit short of fully surpassing the Index.

    I’ve considered a Quest 2, but frankly the Facebook integration is a big negative for me, and while the hardware is more powerful than the Quest 1, it doesn’t seem like as big of a leap as I’d like. Sure, the screens are better and the refresh rate is better, but you’re still ultimately having a fairly similar experience with the same games. My hope is that someone other than Facebook puts out a good portable HMD that I can pick up, otherwise I’m hoping that the Quest 3 has a wide FOV.

  • Good to know it is selling well

  • Dj Arcas

    Highest grossing, not ‘best-selling’

    • benz145

      Thanks, that’s a more concise way to put it! Steam uses the terminology of ‘Top Selling’, but I think your suggestion is clearer.

  • Dj Arcas

    “The joystick is diminutive (poor quality too) and cannot handle adult hand loads especially in VR”

    I mean… be more gentle…

  • R315r4z0r

    I haven’t had any technical issues with my Index, though I haven’t used mine extensively, but it does have a few hours of play on it. The thing is, I really, really, really do not like the controllers. They are very uncomfortable on my wrists. It feels like they are oriented so the angle that they “point” at isn’t the same as the angle that you’d point your fingers in. Basically, they have this outward tilt that forces you to strain your wrists outwardly in order for them to be angled the proper way. And, no, it isn’t an orientation or sensor issue because the virtual depiction of the controllers in VR is perfectly accurate to their actual positioning.

    My normal resting position for my wrists would have the controllers pointing at an inward angle. So, my right wrist would have like a 30-40 degree angle to the left and my left wrist would be the same just to the right. So in order for me to play a game like Beat Saber, for instance, I have to flair my wrist outward like Spider-man shooting a web just angle the saber straight. It gets really uncomfortable after about 15 minutes. Even navigating menus or using a virtual keyboard is a pain.