Steam: Virtual Reality's Biggest-Ever Jump In Users Happened Last Month

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Valve’s gaming marketplace Steam includes an opt-in hardware survey feature, and the results are published as percentages of surveyed users on a monthly basis. You’ll find all kinds of data about Steam-connected computers every month, and this includes operating systems, video cards, VR systems, and more. In the latter case, that figure is counted out of all Steam users – as opposed to a less-helpful stat like “70 percent of VR fans prefer Product A, 30 percent Product B.” We were intrigued (but not surprised) to see a jump in connected VR devices for the reported month of December 2019. That’s the holiday season, after all, and it’s reasonable to expect Santa’s deliveries of headsets to affect data.

What surprised us was the continued growth of that metric through the following month – and a statistically significant one, at that. The latest survey, taken during January 2020, says that 1.31 percent of all surveyed Steam users own a VR system, up from 1.09 percent the month prior. By pure percentage points, this is the largest one-month jump in pure percentage since Valve began tracking VR use in 2016 – by a long shot. (For perspective, the same survey indicated that 0.9 percent of Steam computers run on Linux, while 3.0 percent use MacOS or OSX.) Based on Valve’s conservative January 2019 estimate of 90 million "monthly active users," Ars Technica estimates there are “1.17 million PC-VR users connecting to Steam.”

“Drawing an exponential trend line of Steam’s MAU between August 2017 and January 2019 would get us closer to a count of 1.6 million active VR hardware owners on Steam, and that doesn’t include any estimate of Steam-ignorant Oculus users. However you slice it, the juiciest detail can’t be argued: a 20.2% jump within a major PC-VR ecosystem in 30 days.”