Even After A Large Increase Due To Half-Life: Alyx, Less Than 2% Of Steam Users Own VR Headsets

Even After A Large Increase Due To Half-Life: Alyx, Less Than 2% Of Steam Users Own VR Headsets
Illustration: Valve

Half-Life: Alyx helped lead a large surge of new VR headsets being connected to Steam, according to data from Valve. However, the percentage of Steam users who own VR headsets is still hovering at around 1.9%.

According to a recent hardware survey from Valve, the first since Alyx was released on Steam back in late March, the new Half-Life game convinced a lot of people to buy VR headsets. Road To VR estimates that over 950,000 new headsets were connected to Steam last month, which according to the site is the largest single-month increase on the platform.

While Alyx is almost certainly responsible for this spike, it is likely that some of these headsets aren’t newly purchased devices. How Valve collects data makes it impossible to figure out too many specifics and makes all the data collected and shared a bit fuzzy.

ImagePhoto: Valve

For one thing, the hardware survey only looks for a connected headset, not that the person is using or has used it recently. Secondly, Valve only reports percentages of their Steam userbase, not specific numbers. Road To VR maintains their own data, based on Valve released numbers and old surveys, that help give us more specific numbers. But these numbers are all estimates, not actual figures. Something to keep in mind.

Also, some folks might be borrowing a headset just to play the game. That’s my current situation.

Still, even after one of the largest spikes in VR usage in Steam history, less than 2% of Steam users are using HMDs. VR is expensive, not viable for everyone, and relies on powerful PC hardware. Thinking about these factors and looking at these numbers, it makes sense why folks are trying to mod Half-Life: Alyx to make it playable without a VR headset.


  • 2%? That’s flipping huge! Especially considering Alyx caused All VR headsets to sell out for a while there. I’ll be joining their ranks as soon as valve starts selling the index in Australia!

    • I’ve been picking up the odd VR game in bundles and such because I was hoping to finally get a VR kit this year – none of the good ones being available kinda got in the way there! (I wonder how that HP/MS/Valve collab will turn out compared to the Index now as well)

  • What’s that? People didn’t rush out and buy thousands of dollars worth of unwieldy peripherals JUST for Half-Life not-3? I am SHOCKED. Shocked, I say!

  • That’s probably because most headsets are sold out basically everywhere. Most of gamers would already have hardware capable of playing the game, I have an rx480 and an i76700, both several years old yet run any be game I’ve tried easily, including hl alyx. The Oculus rift s costs about the same as a console. The excuse that vr is expensive doesn’t hold water anymore. The quest is the future for vr for now though, wireless is just so much better, as long as they keep the functionality of connecting to a PC for higher end games like alyx. I think the next ps vr will also massively drive uptake of vr, I imagine alyx will be one of their launch titles alongside a high end Sony game. Like hl2, I think alyx will have a very long shelf life on consoles and eventually on the next quest device. Valve also seem very keen to put out another vr game after alyx so fingers crossed it won’t be another 15 years before the next one.

  • I would love a headset but cant validate the cost for protentional only a couple of games that interest me

  • Waiting to see what new headsets come out with the next gen consoles (currently have PSVR). If they are underwhelming will get a Occlus Quest with PC link which I think provides the best flexibility and bang for buck at the mo.

  • As a massive Half-Life fan and one of the 950,000 new VR users that got VR purely because of Alyx – this shouldn’t surprise anyone. VR isn’t there yet, it needs a second or third revision and the time for PCs to get more powerful / cheaper for the required performance, but even if it was there, and was affordable to power, which it isn’t, there’s only one fully fledged ‘AAA’ game. ONE GAME..

    (Before someone comes in to say ‘you can build a PC capable of running Alyx for ~$600’ – that is expensinsive, and you’re either naive or a fool if you think most people just have that lying around to spend on entertainment, not to mention the added cost of the headset after that, which is upwards of $500 for a used one. VR is not cheap, and if you think it is you’re rich and should feel lucky you are, instead of surprised everyone else isn’t.)

    Worse still, because it’s so prohibitively expensive to power (for ‘AAA’ equivalents any way) and the market remains so small, Valve is probably the only company that has the resources to pour into a ‘AAA’ VR title. Who knows what the financials are like for them, but there’s no way a company without an endless money fountain like Valve has with Steam could afford to have a team of that size working for that long on a game only that many people will have the option of playing.

  • I love most things gaming and I could not be less interested in VR. Over priced rubbish

  • How does that percentage change when only looking at active steam users?

    If only half of all steam users are currently active, lets say, having used the steam service in the last year, then that percentage would double.

    So what’s the steam usage over time plotted against new VR connections.

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