Enlarge /. How did the Half-Life: Alyx bump affect the launch of SteamVR?
Sam Machkovech / Aurich Lawson
On Friday, Valve unveiled the biggest leap in virtual reality usage on its SteamVR platform: an increase of all Steam users by 0.62 percent. Not surprisingly, this jump between March and April 2020 coincides with the first Steam hardware survey, which included players from the exclusive Megaton VR half-life, Alyx.
If this percentage sounds ridiculously low, keep in mind that the last public announcement of all Steam users was in January 2019 at 90 million. That number has likely increased significantly since then, as factors like free games attract more users over this 15-month period. If we agree with estimates like the number of Road to VR of around 141 million Steam users in April 2020 (determined by an exponential trend line with an R-square factor of 0.922), this "0.62 percent increase" would jump of a month means out of over 870,000 active VR users.
The previous record holder for a one-month increase in SteamVR users came in January 2020, where an increase of around 0.22 percent was recorded. This remarkable leap in sales followed Valve's Half-Life: Alyx unveiling at the end of November 2019. The number for April 2020, on the other hand, includes anyone who had connected a SteamVR-compatible headset to their computer in the 30 days before the "early April" period of Steam automatic collection process (for users who sign up for the survey). During this period, HL: A was released on March 23 as a playable game. With HL: A in the mix, the one-month jump in percentage points was almost three times as high as the previous record holder.
<img alt = "The percentages for these VR headsets are specifically a subset of all SteamVR users, as recorded in early April 2020. The bottom percentage is a reminder that the introduction of SteamVR is still a fraction of that total Steam user base, for which Valve does not regularly offer a public estimate of "src =" https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Screenshot-3956.png "width =" 496 ". Height = "509″/>
The percentages for these VR headsets are specifically a subset of all SteamVR users, as recorded in early April 2020. The bottom percentage reminds that the SteamVR launch is still a fraction of the total Steam user base that Valve doesn't regularly offer a public estimate of.
Valve's hardware survey also breaks down which VR systems SteamVR users prefer, and the original HTC Vive has an obvious lead in the April poll. This headset is used by approximately 0.50 percent of all Steam users. This number can very well be increased by the compatibility of the Vive with the Valve Index Controllers. While HL: A is compatible with any hand-tracked VR controller system on SteamVR, Valve was keen to promote its new controllers, which are sold separately, as an ideal option. These are not compatible with anything in the Oculus or Windows Mixed Reality ecosystem. (The use of the index controller is not specified in Valve's hardware survey.)
With all of its headsets together, Oculus has a clear head start when using SteamVR. At the beginning of April, it was around 0.86 percent of all Steam users (according to Road to VR estimates, around 1.2 million people). Interestingly, we also see at this time that the Rift S headset has been used by more than three times as many SteamVR players as the Quest headset, although Quest has received a nifty "Oculus Link" update to work well with SteamVR . These Oculus numbers are less meaningful than other platforms, as a significant percentage of Oculus headset users may never use storefronts outside of the official Oculus apps.
While Windows Mixed Reality has a wide ecosystem of headsets made by different manufacturers like Samsung and HP, the share of SteamVR cake is low: only 0.16 percent of all SteamVR users, around 225,000 players, in terms of " active "users in early April. Valve does not specify which WMR headsets are leaders in this niche, but it is reasonable to assume that no single manufacturer can claim more than 80 percent of that amount, if not less. In both cases, the Valve Index, which has been both quite expensive and often sold out since its launch in June 2019, has already outperformed the WMR ecosystem and totaled 0.22 percent of all SteamVR users over the course of this survey.
What could have been
Valve also counts the number of users who figured out how to connect PlayStation VR hardware to Windows 10 PCs – a step we don't necessarily recommend, especially for a game like Half-Life: Alyx, but hey, more Performance for this who tried it. The number is a reminder that Sony's last official PSVR sales figure was "over 5 million," as announced at CES 2020.
These survey results could have turned out differently if Valve and Oculus hadn't had the same problem keeping up with sales demand for VR headsets. The flagship VR systems of both companies have been sold out or reordered at large retailers for months, especially while the anticipation for Half-Life: Alyx started to assemble. At the time of going to print, it is still impossible to buy systems from both companies directly from their location and expect immediate shipment. Oculus only lists "sold out" notifications for all kits, while Valve lists a minimum waiting period of eight weeks for hardware associated with Index.