Quest 3 Finally Replaced Index as My Main PC VR Headset, and I Have Valve to Thank

After nearly five years, I’ve finally moved on from Index as my main PC VR headset, and Valve is the one that made me do it.

Index is a great headset. Between it’s tracking, ergonomics, field-of-view, crisp display, and still industry-leading audio, it’s been hard to give it up—even if it’s resolution is, by this point, very much ‘last-gen’.

Image courtesy Valve

Even with Quest 3’s upsides of higher resolution, better lenses, no-tether, more compact form-factor, and no external trackers, I was still reaching for Index when it was time to dive into PC VR. But the release of Steam Link finally put me over the edge; Quest 3 is my go-to PC VR headset.

Image courtesy Meta

Steam Link is Valve’s application on Quest 3 (also available on Quest 2) which makes it incredibly easy to wirelessly connect to SteamVR and access all of your PC VR content. It cuts out the Oculus PC software and Quest Link as the middle-man, which made you jump through a few hoops before you could finally get to where 99% of PC VR users actually want to be: SteamVR.

Image courtesy Valve

Meta abandoned its Oculus PC platform years ago, and has only barely maintained the software to ensure that Quest Link would continue to work. But they know full well the vast majority of people using Quest Link are using it to get to SteamVR, not the abandoned Oculus PC library.

After using Steam Link on Quest 3 over the last few months, I realized it was steadily becoming the most frequent way I was jumping into PC VR. Right now I’m looking over at my unplugged Index in the corner, and I’m not sure the next time I’ll feel compelled to plug it in. I would still pick Index over Quest 2 even with Steam Link, but Quest 3 and Steam Link have tipped the scales.

It’s of course ironic that Valve’s own software made the difference. And it’s worth commending them for being willing to upend their own hardware to make things better for users—even if those users are using other headsets (Meta also gets a pat on the back for letting a competitor’s app onto their store).

Now Quest 3 is not only the best value in a standalone headset, it’s also the best value in a PC VR headset. That is, assuming you’ve got the right networking and PC to back it up.

Wireless PC VR is super convenient and can work very well, but you absolutely need an optimized network setup and a hefty gaming PC.

If you’re going this route, make sure your gaming PC is directly connected to your router. And your router should be at least Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), but ideally Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax). Ideally your router should also be in the same room that you’re gaming, but as long as its a room or two away, you should be fine.

A PC equipped with at least Core i5-4590 or equivalent, RTX 2070 or equivalent, and 16GB of RAM is also recommended.

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Valve made Quest 3 my main PC VR headset; will they ever win me back with a follow-up headset? I don’t think anyone knows for sure right now, not even Valve.

The post Quest 3 Finally Replaced Index as My Main PC VR Headset, and I Have Valve to Thank appeared first on Road to VR.

Sales of Valve’s Index Headset Are Waning After Years of Surprising Longevity

Valve’s Index VR headset is now more than four years old. Despite its age, the headset continued to sell at a surprising rate over the years—but as they say, nothing lasts forever.

Valve launched Index with the goal of setting the bar for PC VR headsets to beat. And by many measures it accomplished that goal. Despite the $1,000 price tag and the headset’s age, Index remains the second most-used headset on Steam at 18.38% of active headsets on the platform (though a distant second to Quest 2 at 42.05%) as of June 2023. Even with just one headset, that makes Valve the second largest headset vendor on the platform.

Despite PC VR headsets that have launched since with higher resolution or OLED displays or even a cheaper price, the headset’s balance of comfort, visuals, sound, tracking, and controllers have made it a popular choice long after its spec sheet would suggest.

While usage of Index remains strong, sales of the headset appear to be in decline after years of holding steady.

Although Valve doesn’t share how much revenue individual products make on its platform, Steam does rank the top selling products, by revenue, each week. Thanks to SteamDB’s archive of the data, we’ve been able to get a rough trend of the headset’s sales performance over the years.

The data is at times sparse; for most of the dataset we only know the top 10 products by weekly revenue (if Index fell under the top 10 we don’t know exactly how far it fell), but Steam recently began sharing the top 100, giving us a clearer insight into the downward trend of Index sales.

The exact reason for the somewhat sudden change in trend is unclear, but we have one hypothesis. The downturn began happening some six to eight months after Valve released Steam Deck—the company’s first hardware product since Index. The turn also came around the new year heading from 2022 into 2023.

Especially considering that actual usage of the headset remains strong, our best guess is that sales of Index have trended downward largely because Valve has shifted the spotlight to Steam Deck; possibly even more so after the company saw how well the device sold through the 2022 holiday season.

While Valve had once promoted Index in various places on the Steam storefront, now Steam Deck appears more often to be put in front of Steam’s huge audience of users:

Valve may even have reallocated some of its Index manufacturing capacity to meet demand for Steam Deck.

Its difficult to say what this means for Index and Valve’s future VR hardware ambitions. There’s no doubt that the introduction of standalone headsets has changed the VR landscape considerably compared to when Index first launched. There have been glimpses that Valve is still working on something behind the scenes, but the company’s limited attention may be largely focused on Steam Deck for the foreseeable future.

Valve Index is Currently Selling for $600 Refurbished from GameStop

Looking to get your hands on arguably the best PC VR headsets out there? Well, you might consider GameStop’s refurbished units for $600.

Used, refurbished units typically sell through GameStop for $700, which includes the full kit and kaboodle: SteamVR tracking base stations, Index motion controllers, cables, and of course the Index headset itself.

Now that package is on sale for $100 off, bringing it way below its $1,000 all-in price when new. All you’ll need left to play a host of SteamVR content, such as the award-winning Half-Life: Alyx, is a VR-ready PC.

Before plonking down those six crisp Benjamins though, you might want to try out Steam’s VR Performance Test first to see if your system has what it takes.

Photo by Road to VR

But the last hurdle to overcome is invariably deciding whether it’s worth that price in 2023, as Index is now nearly four years old. For the long of it, check out our 2023 VR headset buyer’s guide. Here’s the short of it:

If you’re looking for a good all-in alterative to the Index deal, Meta’s Quest 2 is cheap and cheerful at $300. In addition to offering its own native library of standalone content, it also works as a PC VR headset thanks to both a wired and wireless PC connection.

You can also pick up a refurbished HP Reverb G2 from NewEgg for $390—another headset that made our list. It’s a good all-around PC VR headset, although controller latency is markedly worse than either Quest 2 or SteamVR-tracked headsets like Index or anything HTC offers.

Wherever you look though, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything new for $600 that matches Index’s still excellent displays, off-ear audio, ergonomic headstrap, and Index controllers.

Here’s a full list of what’s included:

What’s in the Box

  • Headset
  • Integrated Headphones
  • Headset Cable
  • Headset Connection Cable with DisplayPort 1.2 and USB 3.0 Connections
  • Headset Power Supply
  • Regionalized Headset Power Adapter(s)
  • Headset Cradle Adapter (for smaller heads)
  • Headset Face Gasket
  • 2 Controllers, Left and Right
  • 2 Controller Lanyards
  • 2 USB Controller Charging Cables
  • 2 SteamVR 2.0 Base Stations
  • 2 15 ft (4.5 m) Base Station Power Cables
  • 2 Base Station Stands with Mounting Hardware
  • Regionalized Base Station Power Adapter Plug(s)

Recent Valve Hiring Hints at Next-gen Index Headset in Development

Since the release of its first (and so far, only) VR headset in 2019 and its flagship VR game in 2020, Valve has been worryingly quiet about its future plans for VR. But recent hiring and job listings suggest the company is still working toward next-gen VR hardware.

It’s been nearly four years since the release of Valve Index, a leading PC VR headset which has held its ground as the second most-popular headset on the platform for longer than most might have expected. But the aging headset mirrors the aging PC VR landscape in general which has taken a back seat to Meta’s Quest platform after it captured the attention of a bulk of VR developers.

But Valve may not be done with VR yet. As YouTuber Brad Lynch pointed out last month, the company recently brought in two new people with experience in VR displays and optics, one of which claims to be advising the company on “next-gen Valve Index and Steam Deck products.”

Additionally we’ve spotted some interesting updates to Valve job listings showing the company is still very interested in hiring people with VR expertise.

As of late 2022, the company’s listing for a Visual & User Experience Designer didn’t include any mention of VR, but sometime between then and March 2023, the company updated the description to indicate that the hire would “create UI for use across desktop, mobile, handheld & VR.”

Similarly, the Software Engineer for Hardware listing was updated sometime between mid-2022 and March 2023 with new language specifically relating to “the next generation of VR and hand-held gaming products,” and “core VR Technologies (tracking, optical calibration, display customization).”

Add that to a handful of teases from the company in the last few years, and it surely seems like VR remains on the radar internally at Valve, despite little external communication to that end. Granted, Valve is pretty unique as a company, often working at its own pace on projects that may or may not ever launch. While there’s no telling if the company’s internal VR effort is on the backburner or actively moving forward, it’s clear the company still wants to hire and retain employees with VR expertise.

Valve Interview Confirms Its VR Ambitions Are Alive and Kicking

If you’ve been plugged into the Valve leak-o-verse, you’ve probably come across the name ‘Deckard’, the supposed code name of a standalone headset allegedly under development by the one and only. While Valve isn’t confirming anything about the storied standalone, the company went on record late last year to say they are still have faith in VR, and are critically still working on VR headsets.

Valve product designer Greg Coomer spoke to Korean gaming publication This is Game (Korean) in December, saying that VR is very much still in the works. The interview wasn’t widely shared in the English-speaking side of the Internet until it landed on Reddit, Google-translated to English.

Here’s Coomer’s response to a question about what he can reveal in regard to VR, translated from Korean to English:

There isn’t much (laughter). Nevertheless, I can definitely say that we are continuing to develop VR headsets recently. Valve has a lot of expertise in VR devices and has faith in the medium and VR games.

We hope to remain open on PC platforms rather than having VR games exclusively on a certain platform. While adhering to this belief, we are continuing development.

However, we cannot confirm the existence of specific products or disclose the release date of the results. The same applies to game projects being developed internally. There are certainly many projects underway, but we cannot announce anything today.

As you might gather, Valve doesn’t openly speak about its in-development projects. Hearing that VR is still on the table from Coomer directly though, who has been with Valve since the release of Half-Life (1998), and worked on major games all the way up to Half-Life: Alyx (2020), is just about as good as you can get.

That’s especially so since the last time Valve released any VR hardware was its enthusiast-grade PC VR headset Valve Index in 2019. A year later, the studio launched its only full-length VR game to date, Half-Life: Alyx.

Still, it hasn’t been entirely all quiet on the Valve VR front. In March 2022, Valve chief Gabe Newell called its handheld gaming PC platform Steam Deck “a steppingstone” to standalone VR hardware.

“One of the things [Steam Deck] represents is battery-capable, high-performance horsepower that eventually you could use in VR applications as well. You can take the PC and build something that is much more transportable. We’re not really there yet, but this is a stepping stone.”

At the time, Coomer also noted Steam Deck’s hardware “would run well in that [standalone VR] environment, with the TDP necessary… it’s very relevant to us and our future plans.”

Meanwhile, tech analyst and YouTuber Brad Lynch has been probably the most vocal proponent of all things Steam standalone, having followed the Deckard beat since data miners first found a string in a January 2021 Steam update that mentioned the alleged VR standalone.

Over the following years, Lynch has uncovered mounting evidence in subsequent releases of SteamVR, including his most recent supposition that Deckard may include PC VR wireless streaming capabilities, eye-tracking, and passthrough AR features.

As you’d imagine, there have been no public confirmations from Valve, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Open-Source Project Bringing Hand Tracking To Valve Index And Reverb G2

An open-source project is bringing controller-free hand tracking to PC VR headsets.

The open-source Linux-based OpenXR platform Monado just added hand tracking. Hand tracking is a built-in feature on standalone headsets like Quest, Pico 4, and Vive XR Elite, but isn’t currently natively available on SteamVR except through 3rd party attachments such as Ultraleap.

The new feature fully supports Valve Index and has “degraded quality” support for Oculus Rift S and WMR headsets like HP Reverb G2 – though that should be fixed “soon”.

Collabora, the group developing Monado, claims the feature can track fast hand movements and is usable for drawing, typing, and UI interaction in specialized apps. It’s mainly intended to be used with your hands separated, with “limited” support for hand-over-hand interactions.

Monado also supports inside-out headset positional tracking on Linux, allowing Valve Index to be used without base stations.

Of course, almost all PC VR owners use their headsets through Windows, not Linux. Collabora says a Windows SteamVR driver for its hand tracking tech should arrive “in the coming weeks”, alongside improvements to stability and jitter. There are no announced plans for the headset positional tracking to come to Windows, though.

Whether the driver will become popular enough to encourage developers of games with support for hand tracking on standalone headsets to also support it on PC is a very different question, but for specialized applications this could still prove a very useful feature.

Brand New Half-Life Alyx: Levitation Trailer Appears on the PC Gaming Show

During the week that’s definitely not E3 there have been a number of companies sticking to tradition, hosting events with lots of new videogames to announce. Amongst them was the PC Gaming Show yesterday which just so happened to have a tasty virtual reality (VR) update, a brand new gameplay trailer for Half-Life: Alyx mod Levitation.

Half-Life: Alyx - Levitation

The work of modders FMPONE and Corey Laddo – and a few others behind the scenes – Levitation has been gaining plenty of attention ever since it was unveiled earlier this year. While we’d all love an official update from Valve, thanks to the Steam Workshop Half-Life: Alyx is highly moddable with dozens of excellent community additions, and Levitation is gearing up to be one of the best.

Half-Life Alyx: Levitation is going to be a 4-5 hour adventure in City17, set in an area called Sector X which houses a mysterious floating building. G-Man is set to make a return alongside your mate and inventive engineer Russell. Even with the new trailer, little else has been revealed regarding the narrative. At least it’ll serve as a nice (unofficial) side-mission for fans eager for more Half-Life in VR.

From the looks of the gameplay trailer Half-Life Alyx: Levitation is going to be heavily action-oriented, once again pitting Alyx against Combine soldiers and the ever-reliable headcrabs.

Half-Life: Alyx - Levitation

Two years after its release Half-Life: Alyx is still regarded as the pinnacle of VR gaming, offering just the right mix of action, immersive interaction and puzzling that the franchise is known for. “A stunningly rich experience from start to finish, Half-Life: Alyx is one of the best VR titles available, a perfect showcase for what VR gaming is capable of,” gmw3 said in its review.

Currently, Half-Life Alyx: Levitation is expected to arrive later this year. While you’re waiting other Half-Life: Alyx mods include Return to Rapture, a two-episode addition set within the Bioshock universe. Or how about VR mods for non-VR titles? Elden Ring, Cyberpunk 2077, Quake 3 Arena, Resident Evil 2 and 3, and more have all been given the unofficial VR mod treatment.

For continued updates, keep reading gmw3.

iFixit Now Sells Valve Index Replacement Parts

Replacement parts for the Valve Index headset are now officially sold by iFixit.

iFixit is a website which offers free repair guides for a range of consumer electronics and sells repair parts and kit- including for the HTC Vive.

Valve Index launched in mid 2019. You can buy the headset, base stations and controllers separately or the full kit. Valve started selling individual controllers and the cable in mid 2021 – at the price of $149 and $129 respectively. The following parts are now available from iFixit:



Base Stations

The “eye tube assemblies” – the lens and display panel – stand out as very different from the other parts offered. That’s not something we’d expected to be sold. Is it possible hardware hackers & modders could use this to build DIY headsets?

Sold at $999 for the full kit, Index has now been on the market for almost three years. It still has best-in-class tracking and audio quality but its 1600×1440 resolution has been leapfrogged both on the high end by HTC’s Vive Pro 2 (2448×2448) and on the low end by Meta’s $299 Quest 2 (1832×1920). The move to make replacement parts available definitely extends the Index’s lifespan, but there’s demand among VR enthusiasts for a new headset from Valve. Evidence found late last year suggests Valve is working on exactly that, but there’s no indication it will launch any time soon.

First Gameplay Trailer Arrives for VR Horror Propagation: Paradise Hotel

WanadevStudio, the French team behind the excellent rhythm-action title Ragnarock announced back in December 2021 that its next virtual reality (VR) project would expand the Propagation VR franchise. Called Propagation: Paradise Hotel, the studio has unveiled the first gameplay trailer showcasing the horrors that await.

Propagation: Paradise Hotel

While Propagation VR was a basic wave shooter set within an abandoned subway station, Propagation: Paradise Hotel is going to be a proper survival-horror adventure. In a zombie-filled experience, you step into the shoes of Emily Diaz who barricaded herself in the hotel’s kitchen after everyone started to get sick. After a couple of weeks, though, it’s time to leave and save your sister, finding out she’s alive after intercepting a radio message.

And so begins wandering the dimly lit corridors of the Paradise Hotel, uncovering horrors behind every door by the looks of things. WanadevStudios’ trailer showcases pre-alpha gameplay so some of the designs are likely to change but it gives a great sense of the overall atmosphere. The hallways are littered with dead bodies and blood strewn walls, flies buzz around the corpses and the quiet amplifies your footsteps.

You’ll be able to illuminate dark corners with a chest-mounted flashlight that can be detached for great versatility. This is an action-adventure so you’ll have access to weaponry, needing to search rooms for valuable resources such as ammo and batteries so the light remains lit.

Propagation: Paradise Hotel

There are plenty of standard VR elements you’d expect in Propagation: Paradise Hotel, from manual gun reloading to physically opening doors and peeking around corners. You’ll also need to be on guard for jump scares as the ferocious, skinless zombie at the end reminds gmw3 of the infamous red-head zombies from Resident Evil.

Propagation: Paradise Hotel is currently slated to arrive towards the end of 2022, supporting Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Valve Index and Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Check out the gameplay below and for further updates, keep reading gmw3.

Take The Last Taxi on Steam This May

Taxis are never just about getting from A to B, they’re small microcosms filled with interesting characters and their stories. Today, developer ZenFri Inc. has announced that its upcoming virtual reality (VR) title The Last Taxi will be pulling up to headsets on Steam at the end of May.

You play the very last human driver in this narrative-driven adventure, toiling away in a dystopian future where surveillance, automation and human modification run rife. Featuring a cast of over 80 characters, in The Last Taxi you must transport your passengers whilst engaging them in conversation but events take a turn when an anti-technology cult member leaves an undocumented baby in your cab.

Like any cab driver, if you keep your customers happy and chatty they’ll be more likely to tip, earning you more money to buy upgrades. These range from new tools to hijack cargo and hacking toll booths to enhancing customer experience. You’ll also need to keep them alive by avoiding environmental hazards and maximise those tips by managing malfunctioning equipment.

As mentioned, this is a surveillance state so taxis are fitted with mandatory listening devices. This means as your passengers talk and reveal personal dilemmas they may also talk about the darker workings of the megacity. There are harsh penalties if you don’t report a suspicious character to authorities and lucrative opportunities if you do. But some may not always be so easy to judge.

“We wanted to explore stories within an expansive post-collapse and environmentally ravaged world. The Last Taxi mirrors today’s climate of division and existential threats. With the art of conversation at its core, we leave all choices firmly in the player’s hands,” said Dee King, Co-Founder of ZenFri Inc. in a statement. “When a wounded cult member abandons a mysterious baby, a rarity even in the wealthiest parts, you’re thrown into an adventure that cuts across all levels of society and brings about choices that can change the future of humanity’s last city on Earth.”

The Last Taxi is currently scheduled to launch on Steam for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Valve Index on 31st May 2022, retailing for $29.99 USD/ €26.99 EUR/ £22.99 GBP. For further updates on the latest VR game releases keep reading gmw3.