Valve’s Index VR headset is now more than four years old. Despite its age, the headset continued to sell at a surprising rate over the years—but as they say, nothing lasts forever.

Valve launched Index with the goal of setting the bar for PC VR headsets to beat. And by many measures it accomplished that goal. Despite the $1,000 price tag and the headset’s age, Index remains the second most-used headset on Steam at 18.38% of active headsets on the platform (though a distant second to Quest 2 at 42.05%) as of June 2023. Even with just one headset, that makes Valve the second largest headset vendor on the platform.

Despite PC VR headsets that have launched since with higher resolution or OLED displays or even a cheaper price, the headset’s balance of comfort, visuals, sound, tracking, and controllers have made it a popular choice long after its spec sheet would suggest.

While usage of Index remains strong, sales of the headset appear to be in decline after years of holding steady.

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. Thanks to SteamDB’s archive of the data, we’ve been able to get a rough trend of the headset’s sales performance over the years.

The data is at times sparse; for most of the dataset we only know the top 10 products by weekly revenue (if Index fell under the top 10 we don’t know exactly how far it fell), but Steam recently began sharing the top 100, giving us a clearer insight into the downward trend of Index sales.

The exact reason for the somewhat sudden change in trend is unclear, but we have one hypothesis. The downturn began happening some six to eight months after Valve released Steam Deck—the company’s first hardware product since Index. The turn also came around the new year heading from 2022 into 2023.

Especially considering that actual usage of the headset remains strong, our best guess is that sales of Index have trended downward largely because Valve has shifted the spotlight to Steam Deck; possibly even more so after the company saw how well the device sold through the 2022 holiday season.

While Valve had once promoted Index in various places on the Steam storefront, now Steam Deck appears more often to be put in front of Steam’s huge audience of users:

Valve may even have reallocated some of its Index manufacturing capacity to meet demand for Steam Deck.

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Its difficult to say what this means for Index and Valve’s future VR hardware ambitions. There’s no doubt that the introduction of standalone headsets has changed the VR landscape considerably compared to when Index first launched. There have been glimpses that Valve is still working on something behind the scenes, but the company’s limited attention may be largely focused on Steam Deck for the foreseeable future.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Jonathan Winters III

    The downturn is Index sales is also in big part to Quest 3 coming soon.

    • alxslr

      Q3 + Bigscreen Beyond + the ‘feeling’ new things are comming

  • eadVrim

    When an HDR PC VR headset! Hope Sony makes its headset SteamVR compatible.

    • They won’t, but others apparently already have ….

      • ViRGiN

        I’d rather wait for lynx r1 than ivry dev actually supporting psvr2 as a viable solution lmao

        • Cless

          To be honest, they seem they have figured out most the broad strokes for the software out now, they have it running on Steam VR even.

          Its more of a hardware issue now, it won’t come cheap, if it ever even does.

          • ViRGiN

            No, they were just a step away from manufacturing standalone-changing experience, and about a year later, still struggle to deliver anything, not to even mention there are no plans for primary way of communication – controllers.

            classic VR kickstarter scam, just like nofio (wireless index) is.

          • Cless

            Oh, I see how it could have been missread, my bad, I’m talking about the ivry dev, not the lynx.

            I’m surprised anyone would give a shit about the Lynx nowadays, it could barely go against the Index… imagine against new HMD’s that make 2K the standard resolution, with some scratching on 3K…

        • CrusaderCaracal

          only time i agree with you

  • Kenny Thompson

    In my ideal universe they would release a powerful standalone headset that devs made games for. In reality, the games would be Quest ports, so there isn’t much upside.

    • ViRGiN

      Mobile phone VR made by Valve will be better than mobile phone VR from Meta!!
      /s

  • Yeah, Valve now is all about SteamDeck. And for a reason, I would say

    • ViRGiN

      Only a fool would focus on PCVR when steam deck exists, so yeah.

  • Zerofool

    Which 35ppd headset are you testing (only the Pimax Crystal fits your description)?

  • tyretes

    damn. project deckard is still in the works.

  • Bob

    A great product and it makes sense that Valve are playing the long game here much like the Nintendo Switch. Whether or not they will choose to wait it out for another three years (circa 2027) before releasing a new product of this category remains to be seen. By then, the Valve Index would make it to seven years of shelf-life before being replaced with a “next-gen” SKU such as the Switch.

    The question is: Can Valve really afford to replicate the longevity of the Switch in the VR market and eke out several more years? Or have they silently halted their VR ventures indefinitely? And even if they decide to release a new product, is the ecosystem there to warrant a new device?

    If you look at VR gaming now and for the foreseeable future only three major players are sustaining the entire market; Meta, Sony and Valve. Each company with its own ecosystem and communities. With the Meta Quest 3 on the horizon, PCVR could potentially benefit from another surge in popularity of VR in general but are these three companies enough to ensure the constant flow of big-budgeted VR gaming? Can the market ever mature into something that can be taken seriously by the masses for leisure purposes in the far future?

    We can only wait and see.

    • ViRGiN

      Valve can afford to never do anything VR again, because it has loyal cultists fanbase. They can never do wrong.

    • Hussain X

      I’m mainly a pcvr guy. I don’t have psvr. Meta & Sony are sustaining VR and pcvr market, along with pcvr devs and modders. Sadly not Valve, apart from sustaining it’s revenue cut from vr game sales.

  • ViRGiN

    OK bud

  • DuxCro

    well also PSVR 2 came out and stole some attention. Steam deck is now in hardware focus for valve until their next headset comes out.

  • Gildahl

    Personally, I don’t think its the Steamdeck. Its probably just that, for one thing, the screen specs on the Index (1440 x 1600) are now the lowest of any mainstream headset making it hard to justify anymore when so many higher spec’ed alternatives have suddenly become available. Sure the Index still does other things well, but ultimately, VR is mainly about what you see on the screen and in that dept the Index is now a fully last-gen headset and ready for its sunset.

    • ViRGiN

      You’re in denial, biggest fanbase subreddit of index loves it today more than ever before.
      And low resolution means it’s easy to run.
      Whoever purchased index the last few years was already running high on valve opium.

      • Gildahl

        That is bizarre logic.

        • Jistuce

          It’s Virgin, bizarre logic is his stock in trade.

        • CrusaderCaracal

          Do yourself a favour and just block him, he contributes nothing useful. Probably a meta employee

  • ViRGiN

    Hopefully?

    How many times we are gonna go through this nonsense?

    Time to unsubscribe from bradley, the valve shill.

  • Hussain X

    Roadtovr always eager to claim Meta has abandoned pcvr (previous articles). But Meta devices make up more than half the pcvr headset share on Steam with Quest 3 pcvr headsets on way (with Quest 2 and Pro released since Index as well). So if Meta has abandoned pcvr, why does Roadtovr totally shy away from making the same claim for Valve? Without criticism Valve will remain complacent and take it’s time. So if you want Valve products, you need to criticize it. It’s just another profit seeking company.

    • Pab

      Not abandoning would mean direct video connection. Meta profits from PCVR, but doesn´t care.

      • ViRGiN

        Take your displayport cable and shove it up your ass.
        Or even better, get a proper wireless router.

        • CrusaderCaracal

          I like displayport better, less artifacts and compression

          • ViRGiN

            Cause you’re just like a dog, need to be on a leash, needs to be tethered

          • CrusaderCaracal

            Sorry I enjoy being able to play on my headset for as long as i want and not needing to charge it

          • ViRGiN

            Sorry for you having so much free time that you’re actually afraid of taking an hour break to refresh, rehydrate and touch some grass.

          • CrusaderCaracal

            It’s just better being able to pick up the headset and play, not needing to worry about charging it or worry about it dying when i’m in the middle of a run in Into the Radius

          • ViRGiN

            It’s even better to play wirelessly, and attach whatever size of battery you want, and not be tethered to pc for no real reason.

            Pcvr has died, sooner rather than later you’ll accept the fact

          • CrusaderCaracal

            hasn’t really mate but yeah preach

        • Pab

          If you´d be thinking with your upper ass you´d know wireless signal requires both, transmitter and receiver.

    • Ben Lang

      This article is literally about the decline of Valve’s headset sales, and concludes:

      Its difficult to say what this means for Index and Valve’s future VR hardware ambitions. There’s no doubt that the introduction of standalone headsets has changed the VR landscape considerably compared to when Index first launched. There have been glimpses that Valve is still working on something behind the scenes, but the company’s limited attention may be largely focused on Steam Deck for the foreseeable future.

      From another article:

      Dead bugs are cool and all, but it certainly doesn’t bolster confidence that Valve is taking VR very seriously at the moment. Similar to the last SteamVR update back in May, which added another new SteamVR Home environment, the dead bug update strikes us as the hobby project of a single Valve employee.

      The company has been making slow improvements to the SteamVR interface and continued to work on the platform’s OpenXR support; but otherwise it has been extremely quiet about any future plans for VR games, hardware, store improvements, or native SteamVR versions of core Steam features like friends list, voice chats, a fully functional store and library, achievements, and more.

      We’re not fanboys for any company.

  • Cl

    I’d say it’s because people are getting bigscreen beyond instead. Saw lots of people asking if they should get index or wait for bigscreen.

    • Mike

      that display is too dim for me and has internal reflections. also, I will not put the valve tracking stations on my walls. My opinion as a rift s user is that big screen beyond is too expensive as a complete package. its inside out tracking or nothing for me. personally, I’m waiting for someone to make a breakout box so i can plug my psvr2 into the pc.whoever develops that and brings it to market is going to make a butt load of money.

      • Cl

        This is an article about less people buying the index, which also uses basestations.

        I won’t know for sure how it is until I get it. Had it on preorder for like 2 months now. Price doesn’t matter to me, I just want something with good visuals and comfortable to wear.

        Since the light is completely blocked out I believe the brightness will be gine. Internal reflections has been improved along with fov, clarity.

      • CrusaderCaracal

        I agree with you

    • shadow9d9

      People are getting a wired headset with no controller or base station for $1000? Unlikely.

      • Cl

        As an index alternative or replacement, yea. I have one ordered. You think noone is interested in high ppd micro oled in a comfortable form factor?

      • ViRGiN

        All the YouTubers does lol

  • Read the Constitution

    I bought a HTC Vive when it came out and upgraded to a Valve Index when it came out. I still use the old Vive base stations. I was a big VR enthusiast and I still am to an extent. After purchasing a PS5 I’ve drifted back to traditional gaming after years of using the index as my primary gaming platform. I also own a Quest 2 (or whatever its called now). I use it for game days in my classroom (I’m a teacher), but it isn’t my favorite device. I mostly bought it for the few games that Meta has kept off steam. Here’s the thing though, we all know the Index is old tech. Steam or HTC needs to to have something in the works. It looks more and more like Primex or some other company may take the lead for high end VR. No one is going to buy an Index today. They either already own one or another device (or multiple devices like me). We are all waiting for the next step forward. I’ve even held off upgrading my PC. I have an ancient PC with an I7 processor and a 1070 Nvidia card. I later bought a gaming laptop with a 2070 card. We are looking at 4000 level cards now. I know to meet the requirements of the future I will need to upgrade a lot of tech. That really hasn’t been needed. No game requires much more than what I have. But most of us know in our gut that a big upgrade is going to be needed and soon. We are skittish about spending money until we see the direction of the future. That is what I get from this article.

    • ViRGiN

      So what is it then?
      PCVR elitists like to claim the market has shifted cause of Quest existence. And now even PCVR developers will make game for Quest first, and then port it and upscale a little. That makes new hardware completly obsolete for PCVR. Unless you’re the type who masturbates about running single colored lowpoly models rendered in 300% resolution.

  • GunnyNinja

    Super resolution? I’ve got a Samsung Odyssey with that same super resolution holding my door open.

    • XRC

      Odyssey using Samsung pentile oled same model as Vive Pro, Index using boe RGB LCD.

      Enjoyed using Vive/Pro many times, Odyssey unfortunately not so many opportunities but noticed great colour and contrasts

      In Valve’s own words

      “The headset’s dual 1440×1600 RGB LCDs provide 50% more subpixels than OLED, resulting in greater sharpness for the same rendering cost. In addition, the fill-factor is three times better than OLED, greatly reducing “screen door” effect.”

      Odyssey Plus and valve Index use different design of microcrystalline display diffusers

  • GunnyNinja

    VR grift.

  • Markis

    When the market continues to fail to offer content that makes VR worth getting into and it runs out of steam (no, not Steam) from the hype before people realize games aren’t coming out for it that are good it is no surprise. Plus, the hardware is showing to be dated at this point without some type of refresh compared to competing technologies and price points. If it continued to sell at its current price with its current hardware it would actually be baffling.

  • CrusaderCaracal

    Can’t wait