The typical virtual reality (VR) headset owner spends only about 6 hours a month using their device, according to a new IDC Report. One of the top use cases for VR continues to be gaming, with 72% of respondents polled by IDC saying they played a VR game in the past 3 months.
IDC’s new VR report was based on 5 localized surveys conducted in the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, France, and Germany in the holiday quarter. The market research company queried a total of 1,643 users of that high-end VR headsets, including PC-based headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive as well as PlayStation VR.
The results are a bit of a mixed bag for the VR industry. Respondents were overall happy with their VR hardware, reporting an average user satisfaction rate of 7.5 on a 1 to 10 scale — that’s about the same grade users have given smart watches, according to IDC.
However, actual usage still seems to lag. On average, headset owners use their devices just 6.2 hours a month. What’s more, the top 12% of most active users reported 16 or more hours of monthly usage, but 65% reported fewer that 5 hours of monthly usage.
There seems to be some variation with regards to the usage of different headsets: PC-based headsets are used about 5.4 hours a month, whereas PlayStation VR is being used 6.8 hours per month on average, according to IDC.
It's Been Around For Decades. As a whole, virtual reality is not as new as people think it is. While the exact origin is still a mystery, some people credit 19th century French playwright Antonin Artaud as the creative force behind the concept of virtual reality. By the 20th century, researchers began diving deep into the different elements of virtual reality. Toys like the View Master are often regarded as a primitive version of what virtual reality would later become.
It’s worth noting that the report was sponsored by Sony, but a general preference for PlayStation VR isn’t totally unexpected, and mirrors buying behavior. Sony has said that it has sold more than 4.2 million PlayStation VR headsets. Oculus and HTC have yet to release sales figures, but these numbers are widely expected to be significantly lower.
The report highlighted some regional differences, with users in Japan being especially interested in gaming (73.4% of users played a game in the last 3 months), whereas users in Germany watched more video than those in any other market (60% of users watched videos on photos on their headset).
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And there is some good news in the report for the entire VR industry, especially as it moves towards all-in-one devices like the Oculus Quest: Consumers who have yet to buy a VR headset are citing price and ease of use as their top purchase factors. Visual quality and technical specs on the other hand only ranked fifth, with ergonomics and a chance to test the headset before buying it also being more important to potential purchasers.