A Road to VR analysis of the latest data from Valve’s Steam Hardware & Software shows that VR users on Steam have not only been growing, but are at their highest point in history.
First generation VR hardware may not yet have had its mass adoption moment, but pundits claiming the end is near for VR are overlooking strong evidence against their claims. Not only has the tech fostered a strong enthusiast community, but that group continues to grow. In fact, in November there were more VR users on Steam than ever before.
The Steam hardware survey breaks things down into percentages, and at the beginning of 2018, VR ownership sat at just over 0.4 percent. VR isn't exactly lighting the world on fire, though compared to the beginning of the year, VR ownership has more than doubled, when looking the number of users (rather than the percentage).
According to the latest figures from the Steam Hardware & Software survey , 0.78% of all Steam users have VR headsets connected to their computers and are ready to play. Using expanded and refined methodology which we detailed last month , Road to VR estimates that works out to just over 700,000 VR users on Steam over the course of November. That’s more than any prior month and 276% of VR users compared to 18 months prior.
Looking at the overall trend of VR users on Steam, growth actually appears to be on the upswing.
Steam isn’t the only player in the space of course, and while we don’t have direct insight into Oculus’ platform, the fact that the Rift is counted among the headsets in the Steam Hardware & Software survey—and that it’s holding a steady market share relative to other headsets on Steam—we suspect that VR users on Oculus’ platform are at or near a high point, and that the platform is seeing a similar growth trajectory.
It Makes Flying Possible. One of the most popular uses of virtual reality is with flying simulators. In addition to the headset, these simulators usually require an addition piece of some kind. Some of these virtual reality flying simulators require a special chair with a joystick attached to it. There are also gliding simulators that have their own props as well. Users who try virtual reality flying simulators say that the experience feels so real, and the extra pieces make it better.
We have almost no insight into usage of PlayStation VR, but we at least know that Sony has been happy with sales figures—as the only one of the big three to share such figures, the company revealed in August that they passed the 3 million unit mark. We expect that their big holiday discounts , appealing bundles , and increasingly strong content library will push the headset to the 4 million milestone sooner rather than later.
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As for the pundits ringing the death knell—rarely do they make the key distinction between ‘VR is dying’ and ‘VR didn’t meet some years-old growth projections made before any hardware had actually reached the market’. VR’s mainstream moment hasn’t come yet, but in the meantime there’s still a growing group of early adopters who have collectively spent billions on VR hardware and content.