Valve Index is the second most popular VR headset on Steam, and that's a huge surprise

Half-Life: Alyx
(Image credit: Valve)

Valve has revealed that its Valve Index VR headset is the second most used on the Steam platform, ahead of the now discontinued Oculus Rift S while trailing behind the lower priced Oculus Quest 2.

Data released by Valve on the Steam store reveals that, as of September 2021, the Valve Index is the headset of choice for 17.5% of VR-ready players. The Rift S is a close second at 17.21%, while the Quest 2 is leagues ahead of both at 33.19%, accounting for roughly one third of VR users on Steam.

The graph, which is viewable on the Steam store page, shows an identical trend between all the most popular VR headsets on the platform, that being an overall jump in VR headset owners between December 2020 and January 2021. This likely came as a result of Holiday spending, potentially capitalizing on any discounts these headsets may have had at the time.

However, the Valve Index is something of an outlier to this.

Opinion: Valve Index shows that high cost can be worth it

The Valve Index is an incredibly expensive VR headset. The full VR kit, including headset, base stations, bespoke controllers and a copy of Half-Life: Alyx, costs $999 / £919. And while Steam offers the option to buy just the headset alone, there's not much point, as the base stations are required to use the Valve Index in the first place.

According to RoadtoVR, the Valve Index has actually never been discounted by Valve in its two years on the market. So the fact that the enthusiast VR headset sits in second place behind Quest 2 is nothing short of remarkable. Although, we may start to see discounts on the expensive headset if and when the Valve Index 2 is released.

Less surprising is that the Quest 2 is far and away the most popular VR headset on Steam. It's far more accessible, for one, lacking the abundance of wires and complex setup process of the Index. It's also available at a far cheaper price point of $299 / £299 for the base model.

However, Valve Index has been in high demand basically ever since the headset launched in 2019. As we've seen with PS5 and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 GPUs, for example, gamers are willing to pay a premium for high quality gaming experiences.

And what you get with the Valve Index is (if you can stomach the setup process, and if your PC can handle its system requirements) arguably the best VR experience on the market right now. 

It's certainly one of the comfiest headsets available, and resolution and image quality are unrivalled, leading to one of the smoothest VR experiences around, largely sidestepping issues of motion sickness present with most other headsets.

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.