While between HTC/Valve and Oculus, the companies have been coy on official sales figures, Steam data suggests that the HTC Vive install base is approaching the 100,000 mark.
Having launched just about three months ago on April 5th, the HTC Vive is the flagship headset of Steam, through which Valve is the main distributor of games for the headset. And while the Steam Hardware & Software Survey gives relative percentages of headsets used with Steam, we need to turn to other means to find actual figures.
That’s where SteamSpy comes in, which aggregates data from millions of Steam users into useful statistics about games sold on the platform. And though SteamSpy doesn’t track the number of HTC Vive headsets running on Steam, it does track the three VR games that come bundled with each Vive purchase: Tilt Brush, Fantastic Contraption, and Job Simulator. Thus, we can see the total number of owners of these games, giving us what appears to be a fairly accurate indication of Vive sales.
According to SteamSpy, Tilt Brush is the most popular of the Vive’s bundled games, now sitting at 94,911 (± 8,213 margin of error). Assuming each owner of Tilt Brush is also a Vive owner, the margin of error brings the headset’s install base as high as 103,124 or as low as 86,698 three months since launch.
To put this into perspective, Oculus sold some 175,000 Rift DK1 and DK2 development kits over the course of their lifetime offering (August 2012 – October 2015).
Update (7/5/16, 10:04PM PT): We’ve come to learn that Job Simulator was the only of one the three bundled Vive games to be made available at launch, while Tilt Brush and Fantastic Contraption had both been made available for the Vive DK1 and Vive Pre. That means that Job Simulator’s ownership figures (currently 77,975 ± 7,340), are likely the most accurate gauge of consumer HTC Vive sales, while Tilt Brush gives us a good idea of the total Vive install base, including the Vive DK1 and Pre. This also accounts for the discrepancy between SteamSpy’s ownership data for Job Simulator compared to the other two bundled games. Given that discrepancy, we can figure that the total Vive install base consists of some 24,000 (± 7872) Vive DK1 and Pres.
While that’s still far from ‘mainstream’, the steep $799 price means that with only 77,975 sales HTC has likely pulled in around $62 million in revenue.
Other factors may skew the data slightly higher than the actual number of Vive headsets sold; SteamSpy counts the number of Steam accounts that own the bundled games, which may include a number of users who own Vive development kits (the Vive Pre and Vive DK1) which technically weren’t ever for sale. This group likely numbers in the single-digit thousands, so the SteamSpy data should still be giving us a good ballpark for HTC Vive sales figures. Curiously, one of the other bundled games, Job Simulator, seems significantly lacking compared to Tilt Brush or Fantastic Contraption, coming in at only 73,137 owners; one hypothesis being that users simply miss the humor of the game’s name; though it’s a fun VR experience, I can attest to hearing people say “Why would I want to do a job in VR?!” on more than one occasion when hearing the name.
Now that we have real figures to work with, we can rough out some additional data about VR headsets in use with Steam. Using 94,911 as our baseline assumption of the HTC Vive headset install base, we can use the latest (April – June) Steam Hardware & Software Survey to guesstimate that there’s around 36,000 Oculus Rift (CV1) headsets attached to Steam along with some 8,700 Rift DK2 headsets. Of course the 36,000 figure for the Rift is unlikely to be an accurate headset sales estimate as most Rift users are likely to be using the official Oculus Home platform to access VR games for the headset.