The number of Steam VR users nearly doubled in 2018. Although some might think virtual reality is nothing more than a passing fad, the technology seems to be steadily growing and gaining a small foothold on Valve’s digital distribution platform. The actual numbers certainly aren’t all that impressive, but the rate of growth might just indicate that VR is here to stay.
Every month, Valve conducts their Steam Hardware Survey in order to get an idea of who is using what technology on their digital distribution platform. This survey is typically sent to a random pool of users and has its results released to the public. While it may not be a completely accurate indication of trends, Valve is probably using good polling methods to get a close enough estimate of the equipment that gamers on Steam are using these days.
The monthly numbers of Steam VR users aren’t all that impressive. December showed less than 0.1 percent increase in users for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Windows Mixed Reality. However, virtual reality-focused site UploadVR has smartly been keeping track of these monthly hardware surveys for an entire year. They’ve compiled the data together and found that the number of Steam VR users has almost doubled over the course of 2018.
While there are more than a few VR solutions out there, the big three are the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and the newer Windows Mixed Reality. Each of these three devices made for major contributions to the growth of VR on Steam. Oculus Rift users grew by 85 percent and HTC Vive users grew by 65 percent. Windows Mixed Reality is too new to get proper data, but it’s currently in use by 0.07 percent of gamers on Steam. No data was provided for the number of users on Open VR, an open-source virtual reality solution with its own headset. In total, approximately 0.8 percent of users—eight people out of every one thousand—were using VR headsets in 2018.
0.8 percent might not seem like a terribly impressive number, but it’s not that bad when it was barely over 0.4 percent at the start of the year. This is especially true considering the high cost of getting into VR; headsets cost hundreds of dollars and you’ll need a beefy computer to be able to support the hardware. With the gradual decline in prices and introduction of technologically-superior models in the coming months and years, it seems like virtual reality may very well become a permanent part of PC gaming.