During Melbourne Games Week this week, Valve revealed a fresh set of official figures about it’s user population on Steam. Mashing up the figures with Valve’s monthly Steam Survey data gives us fresh insight into the number of VR headsets currently in use on on the platform.

A tweet from Melbourne Games Week, spotted by Gamasutra, shows Valve’s Sean Jenkin and Kristian Miller at a podium giving a presentation during the event, with a slide showing fresh Steam user stats which represent impressive growth for the company:

  • 47M daily active users
  • 90M monthly active users
  • 18.5M peak concurrent users
  • 1.6M new purchasers per month

It’s the 90 million monthly active users which is most relevant for our purposes, because it gives us an accurate way to derive absolute values from Valve’s percentage-based monthly Hardware & Software Survey, which handily also includes information about VR headsets in use on the platform.

Road to VR ran the figure against the most recent Hardware & Software Survey (September), and found the following counts for headsets connected to users’ computers over the course of the month.

Oculus Rift 306,000
HTC Vive 274,000
Windows Mixed Reality 47,000
HTC Vive Pro 13,000
Oculus Rift DK2 7,000
Total 647,000

It’s worth noting that the Steam Hardware & Software Survey counts how many users have headsets attached to their computers; even if the user didn’t actually use the headset to play a game in the given month, it would still be counted. So it would be more accurate to call the figures above ‘Monthly Attached VR Headsets on Steam’ rather than ‘Monthly Active VR Users on Steam’, though this is the closest indicator we’ve got to the latter. Actual unit sales are likely significantly higher than the ‘headsets attached’ figures that we have here, but none of the above manufacturers have released official figures at this point.

Valve Reveals 2018's Top Selling VR Games on Steam (so far)

While just 0.72% of Steam’s 90 million monthly active users had VR headsets attached to their computers in September, the figure has been growing at a steady clip. Valve said back in July that monthly active VR users on Steam had increased by 160% compared to a year prior.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • johnny

    Inside out tracking is the future, nice to see WMR growing!

    • Luke

      the actual technology it’s problematic if aiming with a vr rifle, when the contoller go close to the headset it loose the tracking. then they need to improve back tracking for games such as echo vr.

      • Tommy

        I hear the Quest has zero tracking issue using inside out. Probably because of the location of the cameras and the fact that there are 4 instead of 2.

        • Luke

          I have heared opposing views on the Quest about that. we need to wait for a review unfortunately.

        • namekuseijin

          that’s good news. Pretty excited for the Quest, even as a psvr owner.

    • Sandy Wich

      WMR, “Aka 3rd party VR”, is growing because it’s constantly being given away with 50% off deals for like 149-200 dollars.

      And while I’m sure Inside Out tracking is the future as well because of affordability and ease of setup, I think it’s further down the line than some people think. It’s just not good enough. And in order to combat that it’s going to need more cameras, which will further drain more battery and limit what is already a very short battery life for wireless VR headsets, “Which IS the future.”

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Well, maybe in the states, but not in the rest of the world.. I WHISH they did that here in the Netherlands, but the WMR headsets haven’t dropped in price since the day they launched here.

    • AtmosContagion

      There are some issues with the tracking range of motion when using inside out and it’s not as simple to do full body tracking in the future either (both of these issues can be partially mitigated through machine learning generating and refining an algorithm to “guess” at tracking, but to do this accurately enough at the consumer level is still a couple if years off).

      More than likely the increase in WMR users is due to the price point they sell at in many areas ($200 for WMR versus $400 for a Rift or $500+ for a Vive).

      • Jesus Izco

        I bought the lenovo explorer one month ago, and the tracking is very good, probably a bit worse than rift and vive, but much better than psvr.
        I dont know why people keep saying wmr are worse than the others when is not true each one has some advantages (a bit more resolution, easy setup without cameras and cables everywhere, the lenovo explorer at least is very light and comfortable, etc) and desadvantages (no IPD on headset, a bit worse tracking, worse black colours).
        At least for me, for the price (214 pounds with amazon.com) is the best with difference but even if the rift or vive was at the same price I would have bought the lenovo explorer just for not having to put a lot of cables and cameras around the room.

  • rabs

    I keep my Vive attached to the computer all the time, but powered off and not seen by the OS.

    Other HMD don’t have an easily switchable external power input, so I guess they are more likely to stay attached in a sleeping state.

    Don’t know if this really have an influence in the results. Last time I was surveyed I turned on my Vive anyway, because I wanted it to be recorded.

  • Ombra Alberto

    My Steam is always off, deactivated. Use only Oculus Home.

    • impurekind

      Me too. Very rarely do I go through Steam. Only if I basically have no choice.

      • Luke

        I use oculus dash ad steam, but I wish to lunch games without any additional program.

    • Emanuele Ciriachi

      Do you really buy your games from a store that won’t let you use them if, one day, you will decide to buy a non-Oculus HMD?

      • Andrew Jakobs

        except these days you can using third party software..

      • Les Vega

        My only question is so when somebody says you can just use revive or any third party software to access your Oculus games do you just stick cotton in your ears or do you stick your head in the nearest hole like a cartoon ostrich?

        • Invertex

          But why add an extra step to playing your games when you could just get the game on Steam and not support the monopoly Oculus is trying to create. For games that are only on the Oculus store, then yeah, you use Revive.

          • Jason Shelly

            I find it ridiculous that you would attack Oculus for trying to create a monopoly while at the same time defending the closest thing PC has to a monopoly. I will give you a hint… it is Steam.

          • Invertex

            Steam is a hardware agnostic platform… You can use whatever headset you want with it. Oculus only wants you using their headset, it is not an open platform. This isn’t about game sales, it’s about hardware and ecosystem. Oculus has a tightly closed ecosystem that wants to push others out so it can maximize profit, while Valve has a completely open one that embraces hardware experimentation and all manufacturers, including Oculus.

          • Jason Shelly

            You can spin it however you like, but if Valve and HTC were willing to work with Oculus to allow the Vive to natively work with Oculus software then it wouldn’t be a closed ecosystem. Oculus has worked with Valve to allow the Rift to work with Steam.

            and just wait until the Pimax comes out and proves you wrong by working natively with Oculus Home.

          • Schadows

            It doesn’t work natively with the Oculus Home (you can’t launch Oculus Home through a pimax headset).
            But it can launch installed games from the Oculus Store … just like ReVive … with the same bugs.

            The fact that, at the beginning, Oculus tried to prevent people not owning a Oculus headset to play games purchased on the Oculus Store shows that the platform is a closed one.
            They decided to fall back from that decision because of the bad buzz, but doesn’t endorse it.

          • Jason Shelly

            Oculus has stated in multiple interviews that they are trying to improve the experience users get when they use revive. They can’t officially endorse a headset from a company that is not willing to cooperate with Oculus so it is tiring reading online people blaming The wrong company. Oculus, HTC, Pimax and Valve all have to make money. Oculus makes more money if more headsets can access their store, but Valve makes more money if the Vive can’t access the Oculus store. Pimax makes more money if users can acces both stores…. hey what a surprise Pimax headsets can access the Oculus store and no they are not using revive. So I think that paints a pretty clear picture of what is going on.

          • Schadows

            I didn’t criticized Oculus for wanting to make money (otherwise I would also criticized Valve for preventing to launch purchased games outside of Steam).

            Just stating what you’re also admitting in a certain way … Oculus doesn’t want competitors on their platform.

            And you can’t access Oculus Store with Pimax, you can play Occulus games installed locally. This is different.
            By the way, I didn’t suggest the’re using ReVive, but clearly for now, their are using something similar.

          • Jason Shelly

            Oculus has gone on record in the past saying that they do want other headsets to work on the Oculus platform and that they only require Oculus sdk integration. They have openly requested cooperation from Valve and HTC, but that cooperation never took place because HTC is under contract with Valve and Valve doesn’t want the Vive or future SteamVR headsets to run Oculus Home natively. I love Steam for all the benefits they have brought to me and PC gaming, but you have to start admitting to yourself that they are the ones benefitting from this situation and they will not do anything to change this while they are raking in the doe.

          • wow these are all the things I been pointing out from the very beginning and yet no one seem to listen oculus legally doesn’t have permission to allow the vive onto home but oculus has given permission for the rift to be use on steam, which is why there the setting in home that allows u to use none oculus runtime games while vive can’t use none openvr games. yet people keep blaming oculus

          • sebrk

            Are you aware of the fact that you don’t actually own the games on Steam? If they decide to close shop and not give you offline access to your games they are all gone. It’s on the user agreement.

          • Sion12

            but are you aware the fact that it hold true for any digital platform and you cant buy hardcopy PC VR game?(or really PC game).

            also the chance of Steam is going be closed is less than winning the lottery. cant say the same for oculus

          • sebrk

            Uhm no that’s not a fact. Tell me where that is mentioned in say Origion terms?

          • NooYawker

            Why not respond to the actual comment where he refuted the claim that Steam is a monopoly? All digital media works the same way, steam is no different.

          • namekuseijin

            I thought it was Windows

          • care package

            Having their own store is not a monopoly. If Viveport and Steam didn’t exist then you’d be on to something. You probably have an iPhone too.

      • GunnyNinja

        Why have Steam VR running if you don’t HAVE to?

        • Matthew White

          A high percentage of VR games on Steam Can be run directly through Oculus sdk.

          • GunnyNinja

            Are helping me make my point?

          • Matthew White

            No, you can buy games on Steam and not run Steam vr the only time you would have to run Steam vr generally is off there is no Oculus version available. It’s still possible to by games through steam without running Steam vr.

          • GunnyNinja

            Apparently, I am not buying those games.

          • Matthew White

            Many games have startup options if you right click and some of them require opting in to an Oculus sdk beta branch, but just about every game I’ve bought on Steam runs Oculus native other than a select few.

      • Ombra Alberto

        Solo da un italiano poteva venire un commento del genere… purtroppo in italia c’e tanta disinformazione.. l’informazione è tutta di parte-pro Steam o pro ps..

        E’ in atto solo una guerra psicologica.

        Si mi piace oculus e continuerò ad acquistare solo e soltanto da oculus.

        Seguendo il tuo discorso.. nessuno dovrebbe acquistare da ps o console di qualsiasi genere.

        • Emanuele Ciriachi

          Ciao Alberto!

          Cosa ci sarebbe di male informato nel mio commento? Non mi e’ molto chiaro dalla tua risposta.

          Il tuo commento non smentisce ne’ contrasta la mia affermazione – Oculus Home, a meno di non utilizzare hack come Revive, non ti permette di utilizzare i giochi da te regolarmente acquistati con altri visori. Sarebbe come comprare giochi dalla Acert Home e poterli giocare solo su monitor Acer.

          Il paragone con le console non calza, per tutta una serie di motivi che dovrebbero essere auto-evidenti a tutti.

          • Ombra Alberto

            io sono un nostalgico e i miei giochi li preferivo e preferisco su un supporto fisico.. da installare e reinstallare mille e mille volte… su 1000 pc diversi…

            dopo 20 anni voglio installare il mio gioco sul mio supporto fisico (cd o chiavetta) sul mio millesimo pc senza stare a chiedere il permesso a nessuno (Steam)..

            Odio i sistemi chiusi come ps4 e console perche’ hanno limitato nel tempo l’abbassamento dei prezzi dei pc (le console sono state costruite non per permettere a tutti di giocare ma per impedire che il prezzo hardware pc scendesse a prezzi delle console questa è storia).

            Steam è già un sistema chiuso a cui si appoggiano più o meno tutti nell’illusione di essere liberi e plurali..

            avete voluto questo tipo di sistema… bene ne finanzio un altro simile: Oculus…

            Se vi lamentate allora smettete di acquistare e sostenere ps xbox e steam .. sono tutti la stessa cosa a livello diverso.

            Alla ps concedo solo una cosa.. almeno lei ti lascia il supporto finisco.. ti compri una cosa ed è tua e non devi chiedere il permesso a nessuno per utilizzarla.

    • same here I haven’t launch steam in over 2 months

  • Gato Satanista

    Sometimes I let my Rift detached from desktop. I almost was counted as a no VR user on this survey… When I was about to submit the survey results from my steam, I checked it and found it that I was marked as “No VR”. So I attached the rift and I made the survey again. I think that a lot of active VR users was counted as a “no VR” by this survey.

  • Tommy

    I wonder what percentage of Rift users don’t even use Steam. I bet if they did, it seems that Rift number would be MUCH higher.

  • Diavo Jinx, the Jinxy One

    NOTE: if the headset is “attached” (article’s words) but not powered on, it doesn’t show up in the Steam monthly hardware survey.
    I did one months past and at the end saw that it hadn’t picked up my Vive Pro. While it was connected (wire), the link box wasn’t turned on (Vive Pro’s doesn’t automatically power on, it has a button you have to press).
    I got the survey this past month and now have the HTC wireless kit. I needed to hook up the battery and power the headset on for the survey to detect it.
    Had I just clicked through the survey, neither time would my headset have been reported.

    So the official survery’s accuracy is low-balling because its automated.
    Stay optimistic!

    • benz145

      Thanks, good point to note!

      • Diavo Jinx, the Jinxy One

        It’s unfortunate. :-/

  • Sandy Wich

    Like.. It’s some nice data and all, but it’s not really that useful.

    How many Rift users out there don’t use Steam? Nobody knows, but the demographic exists. How many people bought VR but like many, just haven’t used it for months because the content isn’t there yet? What if September was just a boring month for VR users? 1 month isn’t enough time to get reliable numbers from if you ask me.

    I wanna know how many units have sold from the store for all headsets. Sony tossed that 2 million people bought their headset by December last year around, but how many of them played in December?.. I bet quite a bit less than 2 million.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Yeah, it’s what I thought about Rift, but then I thought, who would not have a steam account if you’re also using the Rift..

      • Matthew Lake

        I have a stem account, but I rarely launch steam.

      • care package

        Probably more than you think. I rarely use Steam myself anymore, and I’m still a gamer.

  • Interesting statistics… but honestly I think that the sales numbers are much higher than these ones

  • Justin Davis

    I turn off my Vive when not in use. Also, it’s now wireless and never attached. That completely skews the numbers.

    • NooYawker

      It’s opt in only, so when they ask if they can survey your hardware and you choose not to you don’t get counted.

  • AtmosContagion

    These numbers are likely far below the actual headsets sold, but it does illustrate an important data point all in its own.

    The SteamVR survey has several hoops to jump through for these numbers. First of all its opt in, meaning not everyone that gets the option for the survey will participate, and some types of people are more likely to participate than others, which can skew the results a bit.

    Secondly, the headset has to be connected and powered on and there are a good number of VR users that seem to disconnect and/or power down their headsets when not in use. The survey also doesn’t account for many active Rift users that only use Oculus Home.

    That being said, 600k monthly active users isn’t bad for an emerging tech like VR, which is a lot more difficult for consumers to immediately wrap their heads around until they try it (as compared to more traditional mediums such as a TV which is just like any other 2D surface that displays information; in the case of 3D TVs, they didn’t add anything in the way we interact with that 2D surface). As more headsets are sold, there is more exposure to the tech through friends, family, co-workers, etc. which helps increase adoption, because more and more people come to understand that VR isn’t just a more cumbersome 2D surface we interact on, but a completely different way of interacting with digital information.

    Games specifically aren’t ad abstract of interactions; manipulating the camera isn’t down through your hands/thumbs anymore and you just naturally turn your head to look around. Interactions aren’t a memorized set of buttons and just the natural gesture you think it would be (just reach out and press the trigger and/or grip buttons just like you are trying to grip something).

    I also think it would be interesting to see PSVR active monthly users, as the numbers Sony has released are the number of sales. I mean, I’m included in Xbox and PS sales numbers, but rarely touch my consoles, which can go months without use, so it’s kind of a moot point to compare part of the active PC userbase to the overall sales number of PSVR (monthly active PSVR users could only be 1 million for all we know, which really isn’t too far off compare to PC which we only see the steam numbers and is likely a bit higher than what we see from the survey results).

    • MosBen

      These numbers will undoubtedly grow through evangelism of the hardware by people who have it demoing it to their friends, but that’s going to be a really inefficient conversion rate. I’ve probably demoed my Rift for a dozen people, and of those people, none of them own a gaming PC, and only one of them is enough of a gamer to even really consider it. Current VR tech is good enough to be impressive, but there are still some significant barriers to entry that will hold it back until they’re addressed.

      In order of significance, I think that those barriers are: 1) cost, 2) complexity, and 3) ergonomics. Cost is obvious, but I include the cost of a gaming PC in that. My parents and sister were really impressed by the Rift, but they’re not going to build/buy a gaming PC that they don’t otherwise need for several hundred dollars on top of spending several hundred dollars for an HMD. For complexity, I mean that setting up and maintaining a current top tier HMD takes a degree of patience and computer literacy that is too high. Most people don’t want to spend time setting up tracking stations and then setting up a play space. And then your option is to either dedicate yourself to leaving the tracking stations in place or setting it up each time. Additionally, you need to keep your PC’s drivers updated and potentially install PC hardware. That’s not going to happen, especially since relatively few people use a desktop PC anymore. Regarding ergonomics, this is a pretty broad category, but it includes the comfort of wearing the HMD, both how it attaches to your head and its weight, as well as things like the usefulness of the controllers (Touch is decent, but there’s room for improvement), getting rid of a physical cable connecting to the PC, etc.

      The Quest ticks at least a few of those boxes, so it will be interesting to see if that can become a breakout product for the industry, but all of the above doesn’t even touch on the need for compelling experiences that will make people who aren’t necessarily gamers interested in picking up their VR gear day after day. Everyone will play some game, especially broadly appealing games like Beat Saber, but it’s going to be social experiences that make VR essential. VR needs to become a way to interact with friends that’s better than a phone or video call.

      • Lucidfeuer


    • jj

      i didnt know featured comments were a thing….

      • Andrew McEvoy

        Indeed! Looks like we have to up our game..

  • Kev

    I use the USB ports that are used for the Vive a fair amount of the time. When I want to operate my Vive Pro I just plug it in. Steam shows me the survey report it’s going to send in and I have yet to be shown as having a VR HMD even though I own 65 VR software titles.

    It would be neat if Steam showed what percentage of users own at least 1 VR software title.

  • FriendlyCard

    Good research, thanks for sharing :)

  • Nabil Ahmed

    My headset is only attached when I’m gaming. Otherwise its stowed inside a cabinet. Too risky with my 3 cats. They pee on fabric and lick metal/plastic. And that’s all the Rift is, is fabric and plastic :O I honestly think the figures should be double these

  • Peter Hansen

    My headset is wireless, so it is basically never attached and will not be detected if the system is offline.

    • Konchu

      But the wireless receiver may be detected right. Which I suspect is the main part aka for a wired headset that breakout box is the part that is detected. I have not went wireless yet but I had always guessed it replaced that breakout box or the wireless module plugged into the USB/HDMI ports of this existing break outbox.

      • Peter Hansen

        It goes through the breakout box. But that is not connected either. Sometimes gives me screen issues on reboot if the HDMI is connected. Also it is not even powered.

  • Schadows

    Are we sure the headset needs to be connected and powered on ?
    Doesn’t it simply detected to drivers installed ? (but then it would apply to those using revive and had to install the oculus suite too)

    • Caven

      It doesn’t look for drivers. I was able to get an Oculus Rift to detect in the Steam hardware survey by simply plugging it in to a Surface Pro without installing any software.

  • Pre Seznik

    Those are pretty good numbers, especially given that they’re almost certainly incomplete.

  • care package

    “It’s worth noting that the Steam Hardware & Software Survey counts how many users have headsets attached to their computers”
    ….and Steam installed.

    • Caven

      Actually, that’s wrong. Steam uses a different method for counting the number of users with Steam installed.

      • care package

        No it’s not lol. Still need Steam installed before Valve can see anything

        • Caven

          But no matter whether one person or one million people respond to the Steam Hardware Survey, 100% of respondents will have Steam installed. But since not everyone is selected for the survey on any given month, that “100%” is still a fraction on an unknown number, making the 100% meaningless. Tracking monthly active users is a far more accurate way to determine how many people have Steam installed, and that’s not done via the survey

          Thinking about it, Valve can probably get a more accurate total of VR headsets installed simply by tracking the number of users playing VR titles. The only advantage to the hardware survey is that it reports which headsets are attached.

          • care package

            It’s not accurate, and never has been. It’s a waste of f time is what it is