The world of virtual reality is still alien to many people. While there are outright critics, there are those who still sit on the fence, unsure of whether to embrace it or not, given the relatively high prices of the headsets or the high VR specs for a gaming PC which call for expensive upgrades. Despite these limitations and barriers of entry, Virtual reality is making important baby steps that are very promising concerning the future of VR. While someone will argue that VR is still silver, they will definitely agree that the silver is picking up pace if the latest steam’s VR hardware stats are any indication to go by.
A new data point
Key players in the VR sector remain reluctant on publishing sales figures, leaving us to rely on various bits of scanty data and draw an incomplete picture. But in December 2019, Steam gave out an intriguing new data point showing an increase in PC-VR hardware use, two months in a raw. Steam is the largest gaming marketplace owned by Valve and has an opt-in hardware survey that features all kinds of data about Steam-connected computers and publishes the results as percentages of surveyed users every month. The results include stats on VR systems, video cards, operating systems, and more. Instead of giving less helpful stats that show mere percentages of different VR product preferences, the VR system’s figure is counted out of all Steam users.
A jump in PC-VR hardware
For the reported month of December 2019, there was an intriguing jump in connected VR devices. But a critic will argue that December is a holiday season, and Santa’s deliveries of headsets are likely to shape figures. Surprisingly, the VR metrics continued to grow significantly through January 2020. 1.31 percent, of all surveyed Steam users own a VR system according to the latest survey taken in January, up from 1.09 percent in December 2019. Since Valve began tracking VR use in 2016, this was the largest one-month jump in pure percentage points. According to the same survey, 3.0 percent of Steam computers run on macOS or OSX, while 0.9 percent run on Linux.
Monthly active users
Valve’s Steam PC-VR headset stats do not just stop with mere percentages but explore a total count of Steam users. The company announced 90 million monthly active users in January 2020, which is significant growth from August 2017 when Valve hand announced an MAU count of 67 million. The survey only counts users whose headsets are connected to Steam user’s computers during the survey. So that means users who unhook and stow their headsets when not in use are not counted. Likely, users taking advantage of the Oculus Link for the portable Oculus Quest headset or Oculus system owners who rely on its Oculus Home landing Zone and never connect to Steam are left out.
Any guess on the 90 million MAU count gets us to 1.17 million PC-VR users that connect to steam, while an exponential line of the August 2017 and January 2019 Steam’s MAU gets the active VR hardware owners on Steam to a count of 1.6 million, excluding Oculus users who do not connect to Steam.
But when you slice it up further, you get a juicy 30-day jump of 20.2 percent within the major PC-VR ecosystem. From December 2018 to January 2020, the whole sector went up 0.29 percentage points from 0.8 percent of all users to 1.09 percentage points. That translates to 36.25 percent jump in the 13 months.
A jump in Oculus ownership
Oculus headset ownership jumped dramatically by 33 percent compared to its prior month, according to Steam’s latest survey. Oculus and its parent company, Facebook are yet to release sales figures about the platform’s sales, so it is hard to guess how much of that jump resulted from Oculus Quest or Rift S hardware.
Valve Index ownership
There wasn’t a massive jump in Valve’s own Index hardware suite ownership in this survey. It is unclear how this shortage relates to Valve’s hardware shortcomings. A guess from an outside source gives a total of 10, 7000 Index systems sold by the end of 2019.
Possible reasons for the Jump in PC-VR hardware ownership
This surge in VR headset sales may boil down to positive hardware and software reviews across the board. Additionally, there was the launch of three high-profile, single-player VR games towards the end of 2019 –stormlands, Boneworks, and Asgard’s Wrath. There was also the announcement of a VR-exclusive installment in the Half-Life series to all PC-VR platform that was to come next, which is just enough to send a ripple of sales through the VR sector. All said, it is a clear indication that more and more people are embracing VR, and this is bound to continue going forward.