Before you start laughing about the insignificance of a number less than 2%, context is going to be needed to understand how big of a deal this is to VR enthusiasts like us. Back in September of 2019, we saw a current all-time high percentage of 1.09% Steam users having a VR headset. The following months were much less exciting, as the high of 1.09% wasn’t seen. When the December report came, nothing that high was reported either.
Just last week, Steam corrected their report and said that the VR community matched their September and all-time high of 1.09%. That came as no surprise. December and November were responsible for some of the most hardware sales VR companies have ever seen.
Rift S Flexing
This last month, January of 2020, we saw a new record. 1.31%. This is, by a wide margin, the best month VR has ever seen on Steam. The Rift S is responsible for much of this growth, as it saw an increase of 0.11%. Over a tenth of a percentage is the highest month-to-month growth any VR headset has ever seen on the Steam Store in the era of hardware reports.This comes as a surprise to many. When looking at the hardware sold in Q4 of 2019, the Rift S was dead last in major VR headset metrics.
Another surprise in the report is the original Oculus Rift going up 0.03%. This is likely thanks to owners selling the outdated headsets, rather than letting them sit in the box under their desk. New owners of old headsets likely contributed to this headset.
Samsung Is Going All In. Samsung is one of the leading companies in the virtual reality space. Years of research into virtual reality are finally paying off for the company. At virtual reality conventions, Samsung's products are often regarded as one of the most popular, based on feedback from attendees. Currently, the Samsung Gear VR is the most popular virtual reality headset on the market. Things in the market might change in a few years, but for now Samsung is in the lead.
Other Headset GrowthThere wasn’t any consumer headset that saw a dip in usage in the first month of the decade. Even the Vive Cosmos saw a very modest .01% growth, something Vive will take with open arms after its flailing start. The Vive Pro also grew a solid 0.03%, even though it is a few years old.
After the Valve Index sold out for most of November, the headset only saw a 0.02% growth. This will likely continue to be on the upward trend as Half-Life: Alyx is seeing the release in the coming months.
With help from our friends at VR/AR intelligence firm Greenlight Insights, we’ve created a model based on the historical data, along with official data points directly from Valve and Steam, which corrects for Steam’s changing population to estimate the actual count—not the percent—of users on Steam with connected VR headsets.
You thought the growth ended there? Wrong. The Windows Mixed Reality headsets, who have seemingly died off, grew a staggering 0.01%. Although its small, it’s welcomed by anyone who loves to see virtual reality succeed. With that being said, the Valve Index will likely take over in headsets used, and the WMR headsets will start to drop. But for the time being, let’s celebrate all headsets seeing growth.
Steam VR Tracking
As for the tracking on all Steam headsets, there was a bit of a shift. This is likely due to the Rift S being more popular. The adjusted number from December for inside-out tracking was 27.24%. That went all the way up to 32.99% by the end of January. Whether it was the Rift S or not, users are being loud and clear on what they want their next headset to be. Self-contained.
The VR Today. Currently Virtual Reality is growing in popularity and while companies like the Oculus Rift are losing some of their customers because of unpopular marketing practices, other devices, including the HTC Vive are taking the VR stage. Furthermore, with Google Cardboard creating the concept and other companies taking note, Smartphone Virtual Reality Goggles are letting consumers easily enjoy and experience immersive virtual and augmented reality. With huge consumer base, the multiple platforms for development, and the lack of many VR games and experiences, small start-ups as well as huge companies are investing huge amounts of money into the development of content for Virtual Reality, which might very well help VR finally achieve the world-wide recognition it didn’t manage to achieve on the market for years.
There doesn’t seem to be any large hardware releases on the horizon. If there were to be any hardware from any company during this year, it would likely boom. It feels as if there is a gap in the industry right now. A little more expensive than the Rift S, but not the $1,000 price tag that is attached to the Valve Index. If some company can find a solution (it isn’t the Cosmos, we promise), they could be the 2020 VR hardware winners.
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