January 2020 Steam Survey Shows a VR Surge
Steam, the most popular digital store for PC games, has released its January 2020 Hardware and Software survey which provide further evidence that the virtual reality market is on a surge, contrary to popular belief that the industry has been stagnating lately.
Steam’s monthly voluntary hardware report shows that more than 1.31% of Steam users reported they were connected to a VR headset during the survey.
1.31% may seem like an insignificant user base but in the context of the virtual reality market, it is an encouraging trend. In September 2019, virtual reality usage on Steam hit an all-time peak of 1.09%. The subsequent months weren’t encouraging as usage appears to have dipped or stagnated.
The Steam Hardware & Software survey so far offers the most credible publicly-available data on the performance of the PC VR headsets.
In January this year, Facebook’s price-performance virtual reality headset Oculus Rift S added just under 6% of the market share and its overall market share now stands at 24.34%. It is already catching up to the second-most popular virtual reality headsets-the 2016 HTC Vive. This made it the best-selling virtual reality headsets for the month. Oculus Rift S added a 0.11% growth in January which is the largest monthly growth for any VR headset tracked so far in the Steam surveys.
Oculus Rift S now accounts for a quarter of all PC VR headsets on Steam barely a year after the market launch. Facebook’s strategy of providing a mid-range virtual reality product for the mass market finally appears to be paying off.
Coming a distant second was the 2016 Oculus Rift headset. It increased its market share by 0.03%. The growth was probably driven by Rift owners selling their virtual reality headsets on eBay in a rush to upgrade to the latest VR headsets.
Valve’s top-end Valve Index and HTC’s Vive Cosmos headsets also surged in January although not as much as the Oculus Rift S headset. Valve Index grew 0.02% in spite of its $1,000 price tag for the full kit. It still offers end users the best overall virtual reality experience available with its 144Hz refresh rate that provides end users with more solid images and more realistic object motion feel. The Vive Cosmos still has a negligible market share at only 0.6%.
Released in October last year, Vive Cosmos registered in the absolute usage section of the Steam Hardware Survey for the first time and grew at even a negligibly small rate of just 0.01%. The Vive Cosmos costs $700 and its specifications sit in the intermediate range between the high-end Valve Index and the fairly good and more affordable Oculus Rift S headset. The Vive Cosmos was HTC’s consumer replacement. HTC’s enterprise-focused virtual reality headset, the Vive Pro, grew its share to 0.03%.
The Microsoft Mixed Reality headset also registered a miniscule growth of +0.01% after months of stagnation or decline. With the current Windows MR growth rates, it is only a matter of a few months before it is overtaken by the Valve Index which is currently seeing a surge in uptake.
The Samsung Odyssey+ is still seeing a poor performance in spite of the fact that the headset has been discounted to a low $230 over the past few months and offers users some superb features such as its OLED displays, built-in headphones and lens separation adjustment. The upcoming release of the new Windows Mixed Reality headset, which offers more compelling features, could change the equation over the next few months.
Below is a table of the hardware performance for the months of December 2019 and January 2020. The data indicates the percentage value of the virtual reality headsets that are connected to PC whose users participated in the monthly Steam Hardware & Software Survey.
|November 2019||December 2019||January 2020|
|Oculus Rift||35.55%||33% (-2.55%)||30.36% (-2.64%)|
|Oculus Rift S||14.83%||18.46% (+3.63%)||24.34% (+5.88%)|
|HTC Vive||32.64%||29.75% (-2.89%)||26.91% (-2.84%)|
|HTC Vive Pro||2.05%||2.42% (+0.37%)||2.01% (-0.41%)|
|HTC Vive Cosmos||0.41%||0.6% (+0.19%)|
|Windows Mixed Reality||5.08%||8.78% (+3.7%)||8.05% (-0.73%)|
|Valve Index||4.93%||6.67% (+1.74%)||7.22% (+0.55%)|
The users of other virtual reality platforms such as Viveport and the Oculus ecosystem that have not installed Steam are not captured in the statistics. The standalone Oculus Quest virtual reality headsets are also not captured in the survey which is PC-based.
There is a Record Number of SteamVR Users
Overall, January registered a huge jump in the proportion of virtual reality users in the context of the Steam user base.
January registered 1.31% of all Steam users who connected their virtual reality headsets to their PCs. This represented a growth of 0.22% compared to the previous month. Half of this growth is attributable to the surge in the Oculus Rift S headset sales. All the other virtual reality hardware recorded a significantly slower growth in the month of January.
Steam has now confirmed that the Oculus Rift S stats that it captures represents only Oculus Rift S headsets and not Oculus Quest headsets plugged to the Rift library via an Oculus Lin connection. That confusion had lingered in the last survey. The fact that it has now been confirmed that Oculus Quest is not covered in the Steam Hardware Survey means that the number of SteamVR users could likely be much higher.
|December 2019||January 2020|
|Oculus Rift||0.37%||0.40% (+0.03%)|
|Oculus Rift S||0.21%||0.32% (+0.11%)|
|HTC Vive||0.33%||0.35% (+0.02%)|
|HTC Vive Pro||0.02%||0.03% (+0.01%)|
|HTC Vive Cosmos||0.00%||0.01% (0.01%)|
|Windows Mixed Reality||0.09%||0.10% (+0.01%)|
|Valve Index||0.07%||0.09% (+0.02%)|
|Oculus Rift DK2||0.00%||0.01% (+0.01%)|