Half-Life Alyx boosts the case for VR as it adds 1 million users to SteamVR

Everybody knew that any new Half-Life property was going to be big news, so when Valve announced that Half-Life: Alyx was a VR project there was a bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth that such a beloved IP was only coming to a niche technology.

It seems Valve knows their stuff though as Road to VR has used both historical and direct Valva data to calculate that nearly 950,000 accounts added SteamVR to their set-ups in April.

Now, this certainly doesn’t mean that an extra million VR headsets were purchased, just that they were linked to Steam but what it does highlight is the potential for sales of VR products, if the developer gets it right.

The cost of entry remains high to get into VR. Valve’s own Vive and Index options are priced at enthusiast-level while the Oculus Quest goes the other way and tries to provide standalone VR for everybody, PC or not, but still isn’t exactly cheap.

It is perhaps no surprise to see then that the share of Quest headsets on Steam doubled in April – no doubt as you can no connect it to a PC and use the extra power o your GPU to boost the Quest’s more modest specs.

In fact, 44.6% of VR gear on Steam is Oculus made, which must stick in the throat of Gabe a little bit. 

Would Alyx have sold more as a regular PC game? Undoubtedly, but that’s not the point. Valve is invested in VR and the choice of Half-Life as a vehicle to promote it was a bold statement of intent.

VR this time around needs to succeed. Watch out for an interview soon with VR gaming leading light Kelly Vero for an in-depth discussion of the future of virtual reality in the PC realm.

Everybody knew that any new Half-Life property was going to be big news, so when Valve announced that Half-Life: Alyx was a VR project there was a bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth that such a beloved IP was only coming to a niche technology.

It seems Valve knows their stuff though as Road to VR has used both historical and direct Valva data to calculate that nearly 950,000 accounts added SteamVR to their set-ups in April.

Now, this certainly doesn’t mean that an extra million VR headsets were purchased, just that they were linked to Steam but what it does highlight is the potential for sales of VR products, if the developer gets it right.

The cost of entry remains high to get into VR. Valve’s own Vive and Index options are priced at enthusiast-level while the Oculus Quest goes the other way and tries to provide standalone VR for everybody, PC or not, but still isn’t exactly cheap.

It is perhaps no surprise to see then that the share of Quest headsets on Steam doubled in April – no doubt as you can no connect it to a PC and use the extra power o your GPU to boost the Quest’s more modest specs.

In fact, 44.6% of VR gear on Steam is Oculus made, which must stick in the throat of Gabe a little bit. 

Would Alyx have sold more as a regular PC game? Undoubtedly, but that’s not the point. Valve is invested in VR and the choice of Half-Life as a vehicle to promote it was a bold statement of intent.

VR this time around needs to succeed. Watch out for an interview soon with VR gaming leading light Kelly Vero for an in-depth discussion of the future of virtual reality in the PC realm.

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Been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision. Spent over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title. Has written tech content for GamePro, Official Australian Playstation Magazine, PlayStation Pro, Amiga Action, Mega Action, ST Action, GQ, Loaded, and the Daily Mirror. Twitter: @iampaulmcnally

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