Resolution Games, which has been making VR games since 2016, estimates that the VR industry currently has around 5 million active VR users.

In the VR industry it’s hard to find good data on the number of headsets sold, and even harder to find data on the number of actual active users. This week Resolution Games—which is in a good position to have insight into the figure—offered up an interesting data point.

On stage at AWE 2021 this week, Resolution Games CEO Tommy Palm announced that his company is spinning up a new division dedicated to AR game development. On the wind-up to the announcement, Palm noted that there are “5 million users in VR” across platforms.

“In the beginning [of VR] of course it was very hard, as a new platform emerges, to do multiplayer, because there isn’t the concurrency [of users] you need to meet other people. So the first games we released back in 2016 were single player experiences, but we had in mind that we wanted to do multiplayer in the future. […] Now you can [have enough concurrency for multiplayer]; we already have 5 million users in VR—not for [our] game specifically, but in general as a market.”

Given that there are clearly more than 5 million headsets out there (Sony announced back in 2020 that its headset alone has sold more than 5 million units) Palm is referring to some sort of active user figure, though the company wouldn’t specify if he was referring to a fairly standard metric like monthly-active users or some other definition.

A spokesperson for the company said Palm’s comment was “a rough estimation of active users in VR based on what we are seeing across platforms.”

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Resolution Games is in a good position to have an accurate estimate of active VR users given that the studio has launched 10 VR games over the years and has built for every major VR platform.

We expect Palm’s 5 million active user estimate includes only fully-featured VR headsets like PSVR, Quest, and PC VR, but not older and more limited headsets like Oculus Go and Google Cardboard.

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  • Bob

    I’m not sure how this metric has been calculated but if this means 5 million users who are using VR daily then this is quite concerning.

  • Christian Schildwaechter

    I assume this is active users in the way Steam counts them, i.e. using VR at least once a month, with Steam possibly also counting HMDs that are connected, but not actually used.

    Estimates for all active Steam users were 120mn in early 2021, with a massive increase in 2020 due to COVID-19. It is hard to say if growth continued or if Steam usage actually shrank when people were no longer stuck at home, but taking these 120mn and applying the 1.85% of Steam users with VR headsets from the most current hardware survey, you end up with 2.22mn, with 0.88mn of these being Quest 1/2 users. Further assuming that most people that stop using VR don’t leave their unused HMDs connected for months, let’s say there are actually 2mn active Steam users, of which 1.2mn are not Quest users, you end up with 3.8mn Quest and PSVR users.

    Both Quest and PSVR have reported about 5mn in sales, Sony in early 2020, Meta in July 2021 (by naming 4.2mn Quest 2 sold in North America in their recall, with 5mn estimated world wide). Without being able to tell which of the two has sold more by now or has the better retention (PSVR has the better titles, Quest 2 the better resolution and convenience), we could assume that both have 1.9mn active users. Meaning that 62% of all those that bought either PSVR or a Quest are no longer using it.

    • ViRGiN

      Yeah I won’t bother verifying those numbers, but sounds about right. Even Carmack mentioned that there are still a lot of unused Quests, so even if they gave it away for free, the engagement wouldn’t necesarirly be higher.

      Software always has been an issue – but currently it’s FINALLY changing. RE4 proved ports are a real deal, I expect MOH to be finally appreciated instead of shitted on by the PCVR crowd who never stopped playing the same 5+ games, and GTA VR will interest everybody.

      It’s always laughable when someone brags how many games they own, how much of a backlog they have – the reality is that majority of stuff is barely a tech demo, and the only real cool feature is just being VR itself.

      • Jonathan Winters III

        I like your comment about MOH. Deserves much more love.

    • MosBen

      I’m definitely someone that bought a Quest 1 that I don’t really use anymore. I had a CV1 that I sold about a year ago, and with the further integration of Oculus into Facebook proper I’ve decided to avoid any of their headsets in the future. That’s left me without a lot of great options for a new HMD. I would go with an Index, but at over 2 years old it feels a bit long in the tooth to be bought today. But despite its age it doesn’t seem like anything has really surpassed it. So I’m just waiting to get back into VR, and also for a graphics card upgrade.

  • There’s clearly more than 5 million.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      How did you measure that?

      • Because Sony already announced that PlayStation VR had sold 5 million units back in January 2021, which means it’s sold more than that now, and the Go apparently sold a few million units alone, then there’s Rift, Gear VR, Vive, Pimax, Index, Quest 1, Quest 2, which is clearly one of the most popular VR headsets of all time, etc. We’re well beyond 5 million VR headsets at this point.

        • Christian Schildwaechter

          The number Resolution Games published isn’t how many headsets were sold, but how many active VR users/headsets still in use there are. So the number of sold headsets you are referring to is only the upper limit, in theory 99% or more of all buyers could have stopped using them.

          and I expect a whole lot of them are still using their headsets

          is not a measurement, it is a believe. Now we don’t know how exactly Resolution Game arrived at their number, the article only says that “Resolution Games is in a good position to have an accurate estimate of active VR users given that the studio has launched 10 VR games over the years and has built for every major VR platform.” So in theory they could be wrong too, but given that this is a number based on which they just made business decisions, that they used it during a conference presentation and that they themselves add the disclaimer that it is “a rough estimation of active users in VR based on what we are seeing across platforms.”, they probably did their homework as good as possible.

          It can never be more than a rough estimate, simply because all they can look at is their own numbers and extrapolate, but having a data base of ten cross platform VR games published since 2016 plus all the information on how the usage numbers change over times is still a lot harder data than your believe that a higher percentage of buyers never stopped using VR. You must also remember that you are somewhat biased, you are one of the enthusiasts not only using, but also discussing VR a lot, so many of the reasons that cause people to drop VR simply aren’t as problematic for you compared to what the experience can provide. Pretty much everybody here thinks VR is way cooler than what the average persons believes, even among those that have actually tried it.

          • Don’t be a c*nt. Resolution Games number is also speculation and not based on any absolute conclusive measurements. They have an educated guess. I have an educated guess. I’m willing to be it’s more than 5 million. And that’s that.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            I’m trying to be rational. Resolution Games has data about how many of their games sold on PSVR, Quest or Steam relative to each other. They have data how many people that bought their apps are still using them. They have data on how long Quest buyers continue to use their Quest compared to Index users. They have data on how many Quest 1 are used for their games compared to Quest 2. They have data how quickly VR users picked up their games on PSVR when it was just released compared to 2020, when there were 5mn units sold. And they can compare all that data by platform, date, game. As a developer/publisher they also get access to data from Sony, Meta or Steam that aren’t public, as these companies are interested in helping developers make appropriate decisions regarding development budgets, player base and marketing costs.

            Is this water prove? No. Is it conclusive? Depends on your definition, but it is one of the few numbers for active user that we have from a source that has access to useful data based on measurements. Is it better than just guessing? Hell yeah, it is way better. Their “speculation” is at least an educated guess. So far you still have not answered from which data you derive how many people are still using VR, which could make your guess at least somewhat educated.

          • Have you ever considered that maybe Resolution Games aren’t as popular as some of the other VR companies and their products–zero of the top 10 VR games of all time are Resolution Games titles for example–so maybe they shouldn’t be used as the main metric for how popular VR is and how many people are playing right now? I mean, I don’t play any of their games for example, but I did just play RE4 VR today, which I expect has sold very well indeed on Quest 2, and Beat Saber the other day, which is one of the highest selling VR games of all time. So maybe we shouldn’t be using Resolution’s relative numbers as the Bible of how many total players are playing VR as I type.

            And my data comes from looking around at the various stats online from business journals and VR sites and the like who collate all the data and do similar speculation to Resolution games, just like most other people.

            Given that quite a few places are now guestimating the total sales of Quest 2 to date at nearly 5 million alone:

            https://www.statista.com/statistics/1249850/oculus-quest-2-units-sold-by-quarter/

            https://www.counterpointresearch.com/xr-headset-shipments-almost-triple-yoy-q1-2021/

            https://www.roadtovr.com/quest-2-unit-sales-estimate-psvr-unit-sales/

            https://www.reddit.com/r/oculus/comments/n51p4b/rough_oculus_sales_estimates_by_headset_quest_2/ (see all his sources too)

            https://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2021/05/in-q1-of-2021-facebook-has-already-sold.html

            https://www.protocol.com/bulletins/quest-2-4-million-units

            https://www.techradar.com/uk/news/oculus-quest-2-sales-figures-prove-vr-has-finally-gone-mainstream

            And I expect most of those Quest 2 users are still using the headset every once in a while, especially with any new updates or anytime a big new title gets released and the like.

            It would be crazy to think that when you add every single other VR headset into the mix too (Gear, Go, PSVR, Rift, Vive, Labo, Windows MR, Index, Pimax, Reverb, Varjo, Quest 1, etc), there’s not more than 5 million people across the entire planet using VR at least now and then through the month-year.

            Again, I think there’s clearly more than 5 million active VR users out there.

          • Over 2 Million just on steam are playing VR every month. That doesn’t include Oculus platform, so maybe a bit higher than that.

            Then there is PSVR which even if you said 50% of people are still using their VR headsets, that would be over 5 million together with the PCVR user base.

            And now Quest 2, a headset that developers are seeing 10-20x the number of sales for their games compared to console and PCVR versions. Quest 2 was already at 4 Million headsets sold in July (just in the US alone!)

            It’s likely at 6-8 Million Quest 2’s sold already worldwide (probably 9-10 Million by end of year).

            so let’s say half of 7 Million still use VR, which is 3.5 Million active Quest 2 users.

            That’s a lot more than “5 million active users” in total across all platforms.

            I would guess it’s more like 8-10 Million active 6DoF VR users.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            Given that quite a few places are now guestimating the total sales of Quest 2 to date at nearly 5 million alone:

            All your sources are about how many headsets were sold. And yes, I looked at every single one. I do not doubt the sales numbers. We know for sure that the Cardboard app had been installed more then 10mn times already in September 2016, with estimated > 50mn Cardboards sold/given away. I myself bought more than 50 to give away as presents, and at least a dozen of them are still in a box here somewhere. I don’t know how many of those are still in active use, but based on the last time I used one of them, 0%.

            And I expect most of those Quest 2 users are still using the headset every once in a while, […] It would be crazy to think […] Again, I think there’s clearly more than 5 million active VR users out there.

            Sales data is not usage data. You only offered sales data as an answer when I first asked where your number of active users come from, and you still have presented nothing else. You believing that more people have to still use it and that believing otherwise is just crazy simply has no factual base, at least none that you have presented yet. I take the 5mn active users from Resolution games as a rough number, say +- 30% error margin, but at least based on actual usage numbers.

  • wcalderini

    Between work and vacation I’ve not been able to play for a couple of months. So. Starting tonight, let’s make that 5,000,001.

  • xyzs

    As long as VR will need a half kilo fridge on the face, it will never take off. It’s too much of a friction factor.
    As long as the screen definition brings people back to early 2000s when pixels where so big that it was part of the show, people won’t ditch their smartphones and TV for vr entertainment.
    Fix these 2 issues and retention and users will increase by millions.

  • johann jensson

    So, in layman’s terms, is this good or bad?

  • Frédéric Lormois

    Pure nonsense