Valve’s first flagship VR title, Half-Life: Alyx, is now set to launch on March 23rd but unfortunately the company’s Index VR headset is still just about impossible to buy direct. In the meantime, the shortage has seen secondary markets selling the headset at a 150% price premium.

Valve Index Stock Check

Following up on our global stock check back in January, our latest check of Valve Index stock today shows that things have gone from bad to slightly worse.

There’s 155 ‘region-SKUs’ between the 31 regions where sold and 5 Index SKUs. Of those 155 region-SKUs, only a single one is available (down from two at our last check). That would be the Headset-only package sold in Japan:

For the last month, Valve’s Index store pages have told customers “we’re busy catching up with demand for Valve Index!” and allowed users to sign up for an email notification when there’s new stock.

Where’s the Bottleneck?

While we might expect that Index stock would continue to slowly trickle out of Valve’s manufacturing operation, we haven’t heard any reports of customers being notified of new stock, making it seem like manufacturing may have even been halted entirely.

But why? One thought is that Valve may be revamping its manufacturing line (or even moving it to a larger facility) to support the greater-than-expected demand.

While Oculus said last week that the Coronavirus would make it even harder to buy its Quest headset due to the illness’ impact on its China-based manufacturing operation, Valve has not indicated any impact related to the outbreak. Our understanding is that Valve manufacturers Index in the US, however it’s likely that some of its components are of Chinese origin.

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Valve told us last month that it was “working hard to build more units and meet the high demand. We are targeting to be back in stock before Half-Life: Alyx ships.”

Today in a string of tweets about the game’s release date, the very last sentence of the very last tweet read, “we will have more information on upcoming Valve Index availability soon.”

Resale Value as an Indicator of Demand

With the official sales channel completely sold out, high demand means that secondary market sellers are able to increase prices to sell to those willing to pay more than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) in order to secure a scarce item. In competitive marketplaces like Ebay, seeing how much the headset is selling for gives us an idea of Index’s ‘true value’; an economist might say that the price buyers are paying on these secondary markets is a more accurate reflection of Index’s equilibrium price (the point where supply meets demand) than the MSRP under these particular conditions.

Index hardware is commanding somewhere in the neighborhood of a 150% price premium on secondary markets. On Ebay US, completed listings of the Index ‘Full Kit’ ($1,000 MSRP) have sold for an average of $1,500 in the last week, with some selling for as much as $1,935. Amazon has shown similar prices in recent weeks, but only shows offers and not completed transactions.

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  • Immersive Computing

    Index headset and controllers are manufactured in China (rumoured to be Goertek); coronavirus may affect the factory with many workers not returning from CNY due to travel restrictions.

    Index base stations are assembled in USA using foreign sourced components, by valve’s manufacturing partner “Flex” who operate the facility in Buffalo Grove, Illinois – this was seen in the Steam controller video on YouTube a few years back.

    The availability seems to be also impacting RMA’s, many report waiting weeks for replacement 2.0 base stations (some RMA’s before Christmas)

    I waited 4 weeks for index controller replacement (5th pair since launch) and am now waiting for a replacement tether… Steam support seem to be doing what they can to assist but it’s slow waiting on stock.

    • Blaexe

      Yes, it’s well known that only the base stations are being manufactured in the US and both headset and controller in China. Not sure why the author doesn’t know about this.

      • Immersive Computing

        The base stations are “assembled in USA” not manufactured in USA. See the definition in the post below, it’s an important distinction.

    • benz145

      Do you have a source on Chinese manufacturing or is this a rumor?

      • kuhpunkt

        Do products itself often show a “manufactured in China”

        • Immersive Computing

          Yes headset and controllers clearly labelled as “Made in China” whilst base stations are”assembled in USA” not “made in USA” important distinction.

      • Zerofool

        I got the HMD + Controllers pack, and they came in separate boxes. On both of them, there’s a sticker with “Models”, “UPC number”, “Part number”, “Serial number” data and also the text “Made in China”. I don’t know what this sticker says on the base stations’ box or the full package box, take a look.

        • Immersive Computing

          This is the base station. “assembled in USA” does not mean “made in USA”, the definition below:

          “Made in USA” is a label protected by the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC. … According to the FTC’s website, “all or virtually all” means that “all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of US origin. That is, the product should contain no — or negligible — foreign content.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c448c42abeb32b662981ad823f4f65251c41b73e56eba0edcb5e58b8dd54287b.jpg

      • Immersive Computing
        • benz145

          Haha good source. Interesting… IIRC, Valve stated during an Index press preview that the hardware was made in the US. I’ve reached out to them about this.

          • Immersive Computing

            R&D in-house, build practical prototypes with display panel and lens samples + Triad diodes, as with Knuckles?

            Manufacturing off-shore with ODM partner of industrial design optimised for mass production. Clean room assembly with trained technicians doing hand assembly at scale not possible in USA?

    • Andrew Jakobs

      What? what are you doing with those controllers if it’s already the 5th pair since launch to go RMA..

      • Immersive Computing

        To be polite there have been reliability issues, mainly the joysticks developing severe drift after limited use. I’m not a heavy VR user due to working long hours, it’s been 30-40 hours on average before issues arise.

        I’ve also had rubber cover detach from left joystick, right grip plate work loose, left joystick develop free play (wobble) and of course the “no click/no actuation” joystick problem that plagued launch controllers (and my 2nd pair).

        • Andrew Jakobs

          Damn that’s really awful quality then. But then again I also hear alot about the vive wands where the touchpad doesn’t click anymore in certain directions.. Seems Valve isn’t that good at designing hardware (as we are to believe they also were responsible for the design of the original vive)..

          • Immersive Computing

            HTC cut their teeth manufacturing smartphones, not so easy. My Vives were bombproof with a really industrial design aesthetic, I never had the control pad failure though many did.

            Index controller is an awesome design but reported to be very complex in terms of sensor count and mechanical intricacies, not so easy to get right. The joystick was a late development, shares space with oval touchpad so has limited real estate, sticks are diminutive compared to Xbox or PS4 sticks.

            Personally I thought Carbon had CV1 Touch nailed, would pay good money for a steamVR clone.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c24a92252d7827d8df93b8bde61a12bc51df39300b39cc3ca4cbff629a84a2b0.jpg

    • Thinker

      I had a similar experience. Took me 3 days to figure out how to rma. I’m not sure why there is no way to directly email, or talk to a representative at valve. This back and forth via a forum is a tidius process in itself. They take two or three days to reply. The entire approval of the RMA process took 8 days by my estimation. This could have been done in a 5 minute phone call. Then, they wait to receive item, then they wait another 4-5 days to ship you a new one. And they will ship it on a turtles back. It’s been 5 days since shipped….still no controller.

  • impurekind

    I honestly don’t think it really matters that Index is sold out, precisely because Valve was smart enough to know that support all the other PC VR headsets out there was the way to go.

    • mirak

      How smart must you be to stop selling faulty hardware,

      Let’s hope it’s not as unplayable as Boneworks with the Vive wands.

      • aasdfa

        haha someones butt hurt they either cannot afford good equipment or was to late to buy it…

        “oh geee i hope this game made with index controllers works with my windows mixed reality ones oh geeeee, otherwise ill throw a fit.

        • What does faulty hardware have to do w/ this?

        • mirak

          I was in line to get it around june but I pulled back because of the fault reports and Valve even tried to get away by deny lol xD
          Also I bought a flat so I really couldn’t afford to worry about shit like that and didn’t really had time to play.

          Then around September I was considering it again, but issues were still reported.

          Also I was considering just skipping that generation because I can still play great with the Vive.

          • NooYawker

            So you’re going to the people complaining on reddit? There’s many more who aren’t complaining and are playing just fine. I have Index controllers and they’re great.

          • mirak

            Where did I talk about reddit ?

      • Darth Folwart

        No doubt. There’s no excuse for releasing a shitty joystick on a set of controllers that are retailing for almost 300 bucks. Even if they stand behind them and get them working, I’m not paying to beta test your god damned hardware too. Also, when you have a big game launch don’t put all your eggs up your ass in China.

  • aasdfa

    There was enough people saying get your index now that anyone who didnt order there’s doesnt really have an excuse.

    Some people didnt have money aligned in time and that is understandable, but i see so many people who bashed and hated on valve are now the ones complaining they cant get an order.

    • mirak

      Why wouldn’t you bash them if they produce faulty hardware that cost 1000$ ?

      • aasdfa

        If it was faulty I wouldn’t use it yet i do a ton.
        If it was faulty it wouldn’t be sold out, hence the reason for this article….

        • Mel111111

          I mean, I use my Index every day, but it’s not perfect. The left speaker keeps going out, and I have to unscrew and re-seat it to get it working again.

          • Immersive Computing

            Speak to Steam support they will ship ear speakers on advance replacement. I’ve had a few already… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6567690b6c2e70f7d190fb498be55ac864d2c42794577050d8505e7f67a77a98.jpg

          • Darth Folwart

            Yeah, that shit isn’t normal or acceptable for a product in this price range. They wouldn’t have gotten by with shit like that 20 years ago. These days, especially in the gaming scene, people are so used to paying for software beta tests that they don’t even bat an eyelash when they do it with hardware too. The shit people can be conditioned to just blows my mind.

        • If it wasn’t faulty, the guy way above wouldn’t be on his 5th knuckles along w/ the guys on Index reddit.

          Or youtube videos on drift, click and replacing the analog sticks :)

          • Immersive Computing

            There have been a “few” RMA’s for me since launch, including multiple controllers, headset, ear speakers and tether. I’m currently waiting on a new tether.

            The Valveindex sub Reddit got so swamped with RMA posts the mods had to take action this week.

        • ShiftyInc

          “If it was faulty it wouldn’t be sold out”

          That doesn’t make any sense. Many things over the years have sold really well, but were broken af.

          • mirak

            Antenna gate on iphones
            They sold way more than the Index …

        • mirak

          At first I was scheduled for septembre on the reservation, then I dropped down to june, but I backed off because of the faults reports, and though that waiting a few month would be better.
          So I guess many people did that, and it was available earlier for that reason.

  • Hivemind9000

    Well, they never released in Australia at all for some unknown reason (unlike most other gaming hardware/software that tends to release to Aus about the same time as Canada/US as our markets are virtually indistinguishable from a language/culture/socioeconomic perspective).

    Not sure where I’m going with this – just needed to get it off my chest. I feel much better now, thanks for reading. :)

  • Vorgier

    Almost like other VR headsets exist.

  • Johnny Johnson

    This game is only available to successful men. All you Others need not apply :)

  • Sion12

    Should have bought one and resell it at double the price

  • ummm…

    is the index worth getting rid of my gen 1 launch vive for? i thought i’d get my next HMD when wireless technology became standard – but geez….taking a while.

    • Darth Folwart

      I’d hold out for another year. It’s not that the Valve Pro isn’t substantially better, or that maybe the index isn’t better in some ways. It’s more that they aren’t THAT much better, and there isn’t enough new exciting content out there to justify it. I skipped the first gen and went with the Vive Pro recently. Between a lack of content and hardware limitations, we’re still in a tough spot. Between my Pro and my friends’ first gen, I honestly didn’t notice that much of a difference when I went from playing his a week prior to firing this one up. It’s only after I went back to his that I really noticed the change, and now I couldn’t go back. Just don’t cross that line yet, man. It might even save you a buck if you wait, or something even better might be out by then.

      • ummm…

        its good advice. i stopped using my vive (except for some sim racing and flight simming) over the past couple of years because new content was not great, or not available. ive come back recently, i guess i missed roomscale. However, i dont think any of it warrants a purchase – especially when i may have to turn around in a year to purchase the next hardware update.