Following the reveal of Half-Life: Alyx last week – the next outing in the heavyweight shooter franchise – Valve’s Index VR headset has now sold out, at least in the US and Canada (possibly in other regions, too).
This could be one measure of just how popular Half-Life: Alyx might be when it’s released in March 2020, and perhaps more to the point, how much more popular it could make VR gaming.
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As Road to VR observes, most of the different packages of Valve’s VR headset, including the standalone headset, along with the headset plus controller bundle (and the controllers-only option) don’t have any units left, with a ‘back in stock soon’ message having replaced the order button.
For the Index to sell out like this seems like a strong indication that Half-Life Alyx could be doing what is arguably its main job – hyping and driving VR adoption – and considering just how expensive this particular headset is, it's successful.
In previous months, the Index has constantly been in stock, with the only inventory issues experienced with the initial flurry of orders at launch – or equally, that could have been a supply issue, as much as a demand problem.
Either way, as expensive as the Valve Index is, it's sold out in the US, even without any big Black Friday deals. The headset is still available in the UK, though.
Timing is everything
However, speaking of Black Friday, it brings up an interesting point regarding Valve’s timing of the revelation of Half-Life: Alyx. It came, of course, just before Black Friday week, the start of which witnessed all the big pre-Black Friday discounts rolling into town.
Including some deals on lower-end VR headsets, which Valve has made sure to support with Alyx – even Windows Mixed Reality headsets and the Oculus Quest, which can be hooked up to a PC via the Oculus Link cable.
So the aim was evidently to create a big spike of interest in virtual reality just as some VR hardware (if not Valve’s own headset) got hit with price reductions, in order to more effectively usher people onto the VR adoption train.
And, a big spike of interest there most certainly was, at least going by search terms on Google Trends. For example, the search for ‘Index VR headset’ spiked fourfold during the week the game was announced, compared to the previous week. It's important to remember, though, that Half-Life: Alyx was only known about in the latter half of the week, so that’s where all the impact would have been felt.
All this would seem to lend more credence to the argument that Half-Life: Alyx is a vehicle to push VR, but judging from what we’ve seen far, it’s no mere novelty of a game. At least if it holds up to the early promise, this could be the title to make VR gaming finally go mainstream in a big way. Indeed, we’ve recently argued that Alyx is a gambit where the very future of VR gaming is at stake, no less.
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