PC-VR: Valve delivers new numbers on the state of VR
In the Steam Year in Review 2021, Valve provides new numbers on SteamVR usage. What do they say?
According to Valve, the number of monthly active users increased to 132 million. In the first pandemic year of 2o20, that number was 120 million. The monthly Steam survey indicates what percentage of the Steam user base had VR headsets connected to their PC. In February 2022, this figure was 2.12 percent.
If Steam had an average of 132 million monthly users last year, then the 2.12 percent corresponds to circa 2.8 million individuals with VR headsets. How often and intensively the VR headset is used cannot be read from this figure, which is the more important statistic.
The survey does not include the entire SteamVR user base, since not everyone participates in the Steam survey. The dark figure is unknown.
SteamVR is growing, but how much?
Steam’s VR ecosystem continues to thrive, Valve writes. “The number of new VR users increased another 11 percent in 2021, and the number of unique gaming sessions increased 22 percent.”
It’s unclear what the 11 percent refers to in this context. To the overall VR user base? According to this, 11 percent of all SteamVR users would have been new in the past year.
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Or does the 11 percent refer to the SteamVR user base added in the previous year? In the 2020 Year in Review, Valve wrote that more than 1.7 million users had experienced VR gaming for the first time. The 11 percent, in this case, could mean an increase in that number to 1.87 million new users.
Many are only getting a taste of PC VR
That wouldn’t be impossible. 2020 was the year of Half-Life: Alyx, 2021 the year of Meta Quest 2. The VR headsets might have flushed many new VR users into the Steam ecosystem thanks to their low price. According to Valve, the Meta Quest 2 accounts for more than a third of all VR headsets used with SteamVR. According to the latest Steam survey, that number is as high as 47 percent.
The question is how many remained in the ecosystem. A large portion of the new VR user base could also have connected their headset to SteamVR just once to try PC VR and then never again. The number of new VR users is therefore not a strong indicator of the vitality of the SteamVR ecosystem.
This is evidenced by the following Steam chart, which shows the monthly average of maximum concurrent SteamVR users. In January 2022, this number reached a new high of about 24,000, which is not very much considering that SteamVR recorded almost two million new users in 2021 alone.
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