2020's Valve Index shortage was caused in part by other tech companies buying massive quantities of components during the coronavirus pandemic according to Valve's Gabe Newell in a new interview.
Back in March 2020, the launch of Half-LIfe: Alyx caused an understandable surge in popularity for VR headsets on PC, the Valve Index included. The company warned gamers that it would likely be the last chance to buy one of these headsets for some time, and that largely proved true — it became very difficult to purchase one of these headsets for the next several months. Now, Valve's Gabe Newell has gone into a bit of detail for the reasons behind the shortages.
Valve Index Shortage is 'Very Much Manufacturing Constrained'
Speaking to New Zealand's 1 News, Valve's President and Co-Founder Gabe Newell explains that the Valve Index shortage of last year was indeed caused by the coronavirus pandemic — but not exactly in the way you might think.
Yes, Valve relied on manufacturing facilities in the Wuhan province of China. The Wuhan province is regarded as the place where the coronavirus pandemic began and it also happened to be a place where a lot of manufacturing is done.
"We actually have components that are manufactured in Wuhan and when you're setting up your manufacturing lines it doesn't occur to you that you're suddenly going to be dependent on this peculiar transistor that's sitting on one board that you can't get," Newell told 1 News.
"You went from a situation where everything was getting done just in time to people buying up all the available supplies." – Valve President and Co-Founder Gabe Newell
Naturally, many of these factories were closed down for a period of time, delaying deliveries of needed parts to Valve (and many other companies). That was just the beginning of the problems, though, as other tech companies scrambled to secure long-term supplies of critical components for a much longer period of time than expected.
"Everybody ended up running into the same problem simultaneously — you go from, 'Oh, we're in great shape,' to, 'What do you mean Apple or Microsoft just bought the next two years' supply of this just so they could make sure they aren't going to run out?'" he continued.
"You went from a situation where everything was getting done just in time to people buying up all the available supplies."
Of course, Valve isn't the only company that was affected by the pandemic in this fashion. The Nintendo Switch is probably one of the most notable pieces of tech that became rather difficult to get throughout 2020. While things have since stabilized for that company, other major players in the gaming space are still having problems; Microsoft, for example, expects that we'll continue to see Xbox Series X|S shortages until April 2021.
For now, the Valve Index headset is available to order on Steam. The store warns customers that they should expect an 8-week delay on the device at the minimum.
Did you miss out on buying a Valve Index last year? Do you think we'll finally see the supply of tech products stabilize in 2021? Let us know in the comments below!