VR platforms and games have had a lot of highs and lows recently. Since the debut of the hobby and further innovations in room-scale VR, there has been slow but steady progress in building up the number of users. Many users feel that the games available on the platform are to shallow to hold long-term player numbers, and a larger share of what games are out there are gimmicks like bow-and-arrow games. But maybe that will change with the surprisingly successful release of Half-Life: Alyx. New estimates from outlet Road to VR suggest that this one game has been a huge game-changer for the systems.
And with Steam consistently setting records for most concurrent users, that’s translating to huge growth for VR platforms. According to recent reports more than 1 million VR users have been added to the platform over the last couple of months. The data says that this is the single largest month-to-month growth of this metric for Steam, more than tripling the previous record set from December 2019 to January 2020.
Road to VR is the source for these totals, estimating that an additional 950,000 VR headsets were plugged into PCs this past month. Totals for VR hardware on Steam top out around 2.7 million headsets registered. In total, this equates to about 1.91% of all Steam users. Despite this growth, that number doesn’t seem all that impressive. Sure, an installed user base in the millions is great, but ongoing concerns about the quality of may VR titles still plague the hobby.
The price of hardware, with the Valve Index costing nearly $1,000 USD, has been another major obstacle in the way of widespread adoption. The PC hardware requirements to drive VR are also another problem that keeps many users from buying in. The announcement of Half-Life: Alyx caused the Valve Index to sell out almost immediately. Production issues were also plagued by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which caused problems securing certain components. Valve would later restock the number of units, to almost immediately prompt a run on units that saw another spike in sales.
“Half-Life means a lot to us, and it’s been incredibly rewarding to refamiliarize ourselves with its characters, setting, and mechanics. There are Half-Life: Alyx team members who have been at Valve since Half-Life 2, and quite a few who go back to the original Half-Life,” said Half-Life: Alyx programmer Robin Walker in an interview earlier this year. “We absolutely see Half-Life: Alyx as our return to this world, not the end of it.”
Half-Life: Alyx is out now for all PC VR platforms.