Valve has been collecting more accurate VR usage data on Steam from March 2020. Let’s see what these numbers say. For the March hardware survey, Valve updated the survey figures twice on April 2 and April 3 and these changes have been captured in the article.
The Valve’s Steam Hardware Survey for the month of March covers any virtual reality headset that was connected to the PC at least once in a month for the month in question. The data shows that 1.29% of Steam users now have a SteamVR compatible headset. Previously, Valve had only captured the virtual reality headsets that had been connected to the PC at the time of the data collection in the survey.
The March hardware survey now also include the standalone virtual reality headsets such as Oculus Quest that can be optionally connected to a PC (Oculus Quest headset can be connected to a PC via an Oculus Link connection). The survey also includes virtual reality headsets that are recorded in small numbers like PlayStation VR or the Pimax headsets. The PlayStation VR headsets can be used on the PC with third-party software like Trinus or by developers. The Oculus Quest headsets appears in the Steam Hardware Survey via the Oculus Link connection.
The table below shows the Valve data for March 2020. The table also shows the % increase over the previous month but this is largely an approximate reference as the Valve data for the month of February was still based on the old data collection system.
|March 2020||% Increase|
|Oculus Rift S||27.05%||+0.40%|
|Windows Mixed Reality||8.28%||-0.19%|
|HTC Vive Pro||3.50%||+1.03%|
|HTC Vive Cosmos||1.25%||+0.67%|
|Pimax 5K Plus||0.27%||+0.23%|
|Oculus Rift DK2||0.11%||-0.04%|
|Oculus Rift DK1||0.01%||-0.07%|
|Steam Users with VR Headsets||1.29%||+0.28%|
The SteamVR Hardware Survey does not capture the users who only use the Oculus and Viveport Virtual Reality platforms and who have not installed Steam or have not participated in the Steam data collection. Most of the PSVR users that have not connected their virtual reality headsets to PC as well as the Oculus Quest users who have only used their VR headsets in the standalone mode (without connecting to a PC via Oculus Link) are also not captured in the survey.
1.29% of Steam Users Have a VR Headset
While 1.29% does not seem like a lot but when this is compared to other niche items in the Hardware Survey, the data shows that PC VR is showing some great momentum.
In April last year, Steam had 90 million monthly active users according to a Valve report. Even if that figure has only grown marginally over the past year to 100 million monthly users, we can estimate that there are now approximately 1.3 million Steam users that have a Virtual Reality headset.
From the data, there are now more Steam users with a Virtual Reality headset than Linux users or users with an RTX 2080 Ti. At the current growth rates, there will soon be more Steam users with a VR headset than users with a 4K primary monitor.
However, the 1.29% represents the current state of consumer VR which is still a relatively new phenomenon and is yet to see a mass uptake by mainstream users. As virtual reality hardware gets cheaper, we are going to see the proportion of VR users on Steam rising sharply over the next few years.
Virtual Reality Headsets on Steam
Based on the March Hardware Survey data as well as the estimate of 100 million active Steam users, it is possible to calculate a rough estimate of the number of the various headsets that are in use on Steam.
With the newer Virtual Reality headsets, this number will give us a good idea of how many of each headsets have been sold. For the older headsets, the number will be less accurate as many of the headsets are now either in storage or inoperable.
From the data, the Oculus Rift S headset is now the most used Virtual Reality headset on Steam. Coming just ten months after launch, this is impressive. The data shows that just under 50% of the VR headsets on Steam are Rift headsets. The newest Rift S headset is now the most popular on the Steam platform and is used by over 25% of SteamVR users. The original Rift headset was once the most popular but it now accounts for just 16% of SteamVR users.
In second place is the HTC Vive headset which has roughly a third of users. Most of these users are on the original Vive headset which was launched in 2016. The HTC Vive headset was the first consumer headset to provide users with room-scale tracking as well as positionally tracked controllers. As per the March SteamVR Hardware Survey, approximately a quarter of the VR headsets on Steam are the original Vive headsets.
The Vive Cosmos, HTC’s latest consumer VR headset is used by 1.25% of SteamVR users. The standalone Oculus Quest headset is used by 2.9% of SteamVR users.
The prime Valve Index VR headset has now overtaken the Windows Mixed Reality headset in spite of its high price. The Index is now used by roughly 10% of SteamVR users. The full Index kit costs roughly $1,000 which is several times the price of the Windows Mixed Reality headsets. This, perhaps, disproves Facebook’s insistence that consumers aren’t going to buy VR headsets at that price tag ($1,000).
The Windows Mixed Reality headsets have always taken the low-price approach. There are numerous low-priced WMR headsets from a variety of manufacturers but so far, consumers don’t seem to be interested in the headsets even after aggressive price cuts. Some of the WMR headsets cost as low as $150 and still, there is anemic uptake.
One surprise in the SteamVR Hardware Survey for March 2020 is emergence of the Pimax headsets in the survey. The company’s popular offerings of the Pimax 5K Plus and the 8K are now showing in the survey. These headsets are very niche and they account for just 1 in 300 of VR hardware used by SteamVR users.
Some 1 in 200 SteamVR users are now rigging their PlayStation VR headsets by using third-party drivers to connect them in a PC VR configuration. They are using drivers such as the Trinus or iVRy. However, this modding will only work best for the cockpit games and the likes. If you are looking for a serious VR experience with your PSVR via the Trinus/iVRy drivers, you will also need to install third-party tracking services like Driver4VR or PSMoveService. However, the quality of tracking with the third-party software isn’t as good as on PlayStation 4.
The use of inside-out tracking allows for lower cost headsets as well as ease of setup and it ushered in most of the VR headset growth from May 2019 thanks to the launch and success of the Rift S headset. Still, 6 in 10 headsets on Steam are still being tracked using external hardware. This is down to the large number of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift headsets that are being used.
SteamVR has a “Lighthouse” tracking system that allows for the interoperability of headsets and controllers. Thanks to this, if you own the original HTC Vive headset, you can still purchase and use Valve Index controllers. This could be one of the main reasons why the Vive headset is still used by more users than the original Oculus Rift headset.
Valve’s triple-A VR title Half-Life: Alyx has received wide acclaim and overall positive reception in the industry. It could be a primary growth factor in the uptake of VR hardware this year and beyond provided that the leading players ramp up hardware production to meet consumer demand. The past four months have been plagued with shortages in VR headsets.
The next SteamVR Hardware Survey in May should begin capturing the impact of Half-Life: Alyx on PC VR usage.
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The Valve’s Steam Hardware…Sam OchanjiSam
Ochanji[email protected]AdministratorVirtual Reality Times