Monthly-connected VR Headsets on SteamEach month Valve collects info from Steam users to determine some baseline statistics about what kind of hardware and software is used by the platform’s population, and to see how things are changing over time, including the use of VR headsets.
The data shared in the survey represents the number of headsets connected to Steam over a given month, so we call the resulting figure ‘monthly-connected headsets’ for clarity; it’s the closest official figure there is to ‘monthly active VR users’ on Steam, with the caveat that it only tells us how many VR headsets were connected, not how many were actually used.
While Valve’s data is a useful way see which headsets are most popular on Steam, the trend of monthly-connected headsets is obfuscated because the data is given exclusively as percentages relative to Steam’s population—which itself is an unstated and constantly fluctuating figure.
To demystify the data Road to VR maintains a model, based on the historical survey data along with official data points directly from Valve and Steam, which aims to correct for Steam’s changing population to estimate the actual count—not the percent—of headsets being used on Steam.
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.
A New Record Three Months Running
The number of monthly-connected headsets on Steam has seen strong growth in the prior two months, seemingly boosted by Quest 2 which last month became the most popular headset in use on the platform.
Now, for the third month in a row, we’re seeing a new record high number of monthly-connected headsets, both in proportion and total count. This month the count reached 2.4% of Steam users, which we estimate to be just over 3 million headsets.
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To put the milestone into perspective: it took 41 months for Steam to reach 1 million monthly-connected headsets but just 11 months to add another 2 million for a total of 3 million monthly-connected headsets. Year-over-year, the number of headsets is up 119%.
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.
Historically it’s common to see spikes in the number of headsets on Steam just after the holidays (accounting for holiday buyers trying out their new headsets), but this time around we’ve seen sustained growth since the holidays, with the count even accelerating in March.
Looking at VR adoption on Steam compared to some other metrics gives an idea of how it stacks up. At 2.4%, VR adoption on Steam is steadily encroaching on the total number of MacOS users using Steam on a monthly basis, while the growth of users with 8+ CPU cores is so far outpacing VR.
iGlasses. While today Apple is infamous for their use of “i” in their products, they weren’t the first ones to come up with the idea. In the 1990s, a company known as Virtual I/O came up with a headset that was capable of color 3D stereoscopic vision, as well as head tracking. Known as iGlasses, the device had a price tag of just under $1000. While the glasses were fully capable of delivering an immersive experience, they didn’t truly ignite the consumer market.
Note: While our monthly breakdowns typically also break down the share of individually VR headsets on Steam, the data is not yet available. This article will be updated when it is released.