Valve Will Soon Provide A Reliable Estimate Of PC VR Headset Ownership

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Valve revamped the VR section of the Steam Hardware Survey to support all PC VR headsets. When the data for March is released later today, it will include any headset the user has connected in the past month.

The Steam Hardware Survey is offered randomly to a portion of Steam users each month. If they agree, it uploads their system specs. These specs are publicly collated each month, giving PC developers insight into the hardware capabilities of their market.

UploadVR has been collecting the VR headset data reported by this survey for years now. Because Facebook and HTC don’t release sales figures, the survey is actually the most reliable publicly available indicator of PC VR headset sales.

However, before these changes it had a major limitation: only reporting headsets currently connected to the PC. While many PC VR headset owners likely keep their headset plugged in, some may prefer to unplug and store it.

In an email sent to UploadVR and others, Valve explained that starting on March 1, Steam started to use the SteamVR records of any headset connected in the past month, instead of just scanning current USB devices (which will now be just a fallback).

Using SteamVR’s data also means the survey will be tracking wireless headsets, theoretically including Oculus Quest via Virtual Desktop. It also means it can keep track of less common headsets that weren’t in the Hardware Survey’s whitelist beforehand.

Drivers for the Pimax 5K Plus and the community drivers Sony’s PlayStation VR seem to have been retroactively added to the report for the February survey, which has now been updated. Those headsets have usage shares of 0.04% and 0.05% respectively.

How can you use a PlayStation VR on Steam you might ask? Third party drivers like Trinus or iVRy allow it to interface with SteamVR. But unless you’re just using it for cockpit games, you’ll also need a third party tracking service, such as
PSMoveService or Driver4VR. Keep in mind the quality of tracking often won’t be as good as on a PlayStation 4.

These changes should make the Steam Hardware Survey by far the most reliable estimate of PC VR headset ownership. Steam has roughly 100 million active users, so each percent should represent roughly one million users.

If a significant portion of users don’t keep their headsets connected to their PC, or are using wireless headsets, it could dramatically change our understanding of the size of the PC VR market.

Once the March data is released, we’ll bring you the figures, visualizations, and our analysis on UploadVR.com.



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