Despite near-perfect reviews, debate still surrounds Valve’s Half-Life: Alyx and virtual reality exclusivity. Many don’t have access to VR. How could Valve put such a beloved franchise on a limited platform?
Well, to get more people buying virtual reality headsets.
Gamers can whine all they want, but the latest edition of Half-Life was always meant for virtual reality. Valve head Gabe Newell has said for years that the franchise is intended to push new technology.
The company has championed VR for years. They built their own $1000 headset, the Index, for chrissake. Of course Valve will use its biggest franchise to push hardware. This is what console exclusives are for. Why would someone buy into VR with nothing to play?
Even so, there are many fantastic titles available already. But none have the impact a Half-Life game would.
IGN Executive Editor Ryan McCaffrey puts it best in a Twitter thread. He states that, yeah, it sucks some can’t play the game due to new hardware. But he notes that Valve is the only company that can do this because money isn’t a factor. Steam keeps that business going indefinitely.
Sales are significant, but they’re not vital to Valve’s success. The company can afford to make a fantastic game for a limited audience. One that will hopefully push more people to adopt, lowering the cost of entry over time.
Valve’s push seems to be working. The Index is so in demand that orders currently takes eight weeks to ship .
Despite this, Half-Life: Alyx had a successful VR launch, with 43,000 concurrent players the day of. It certainly helps that the game came free to Index owners.
Many are still waiting for an official Half-Life 3, and we can be sure that’s coming. It’s likely Valve is testing the waters with Alyx. They’re showing people what’s possible in VR, getting them to buy-in.
From there, additional VR titles will see success, leading to more adoption. And who knows, we may even see a PlayStation 5 port.
Then, in a few years, we’ll see a full-fledged Half-Life sequel that we’ve all been waiting for. At that time, many more will be able to play.