Valve today shared a handful of new stats revealing the growth of VR on Steam over the course of 2020.

In an 2020 year-in-review recap of Steam, Valve took note of SteamVR’s growth over the last year.

The company said that Steam saw 1.7 million users experience a VR game for the first time in 2020, while SteamVR users overall jumped into more than 104 million VR sessions.

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Playtime increased as well, Valve said. VR sessions on Steam in 2020 have averaged 32 minutes, which the company said represents a 30% increase over the year prior.

Perhaps most interestingly, the company said that VR game revenue grew by 71% on Steam in 2020, with a whopping 39% of that coming directly from Half-Life: Alyxfurther cementing the game’s mark on the industry.

Image courtesy Valve

Valve didn’t share any sales figures for its Index headset, but said demand was “consistently high” throughout the year, and noted that it had struggled to keep up with demand until late 2020.

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While these stats represent a look into only the Steam portion of the VR landscape, 2020 appeared to be a big year across the industry with the launch of new headsets, like Quest 2 and Reverb G2, Beat Saber going double platinum, and Quest 2 exceeding the original Quest’s number of monthly active users less than seven weeks after launch.

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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."
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    “VR Gaming on PCs has continued to show growth in 2020 with up 32% year-over-year. That’s not even counting the launch of, which added an additional 39% on top of that.”

    Are they saying that Alyx was 30% of total VR sales revenue?

    • benz145

      Without Alyx, VR game revenue on Steam in 2020 was 132% of what it was in 2019. With Alyx it was 171%, so Alyx contributed to about half of the revenue growth.

      This might seem surprising, but Alyx is not only (very likely) the best selling VR game on Steam in 2020, but it’s also a $60 game, whereas most others are ~$30, so it sort of gets a 2x multiplier on sales if we’re talking revenue rather than units.

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        Alyx being more than a fifth of total revenue is still eye opening. They need to do more to increase visibility and ultimately sales per headset. There are too many hidden gems in VR.
        What’s the estimate for total Steam VR sales? 500 million? Or did this not include bundled sales of Alyx, because then it would be more like 650-700 million.

      • psuedonymous

        Alyx also nets Valve 100% of revenue, whereas they only nab 30% from other titles. Even if Valve are referring to ‘publisher’ revenue rather than ‘Valve’ revenue, that;s still comparing 100% of revenue from Alyx vs. 70% of revenue from other titles.

  • Strange that the average is only 30 minutes, that’s not a lot for any major Vr game

    • wheeler

      It sounds about right. All of the discomforts and exertions associated with VR tend to discourage usage. There’s visual fatigue, headset ergonomics, and simulator sickness. Valve has commented on how they’ve noticed increased play duration with more comfortable hardware, e.g. the Index. And the dominant form of play is still standing the middle of your room, which is not something that’s amenable to long sessions. People are tired after work / school. Then you have a lot of arcade games whose appeal is limited to short sessions.

      So there’s a lot of room for improvement. E.g. if I didn’t play seated on a swiveling stool my play sessions would be significantly shorter, but that’s something I went out of my way to setup (not just finding and buying a decent stool for this, but also configuring Advanced Settings to compensate for the inability to crouch). It’s also even more of a pain in the ass to deal with a wire while playing seated because the cord will wrap around the base of the chair.

    • mepy

      A lot of the games are so buggy you spend only a minute or two before exiting, that brings down the average playtime.

    • Sion12

      sound like average VR porn jack off time

  • I hate how no one shares headsets sales figures, but everyone keeps giving absurd stats instead of just telling how much they have sold

    • wheeler

      It’s likely because the figures would look bad and it would piss developers off. E.g. consider that just before the Q2 launch, Quest 1 users had spent $150m on games in total. So e.g. if there were 1.5 million Quest 1s sold then the average user spent only $100 on games–many of which FB subsidized development for anyway. This is on a device that they probably need users to spend $300 on before breaking even on loss leading hardware.

      Same thing with PCVR: a few years ago nvidia announced 4 million PCVR headsets had sold, but at that time only ~1 million were active on Steam. Just now Valve announced there were 1.7m new SteamVR users but the active monthly userbase is probably around 2 to 3 million (a while ago it was reported that there were 120m on Steam in total and around 2% of those use a VR headset at least once a month, but the platform has been add millions of Chinese users which dilutes the VR numbers–Chinese is about to overtake English on Steam). So that would suggest a ton of turnover and poor retention–what has always been the bane of VR.

      Likewise Facebook recently announced that the active Quest 2 user population exceeded the Quest 1 population. That may seem great at face value, but it could also just mean that Quest 1 retention was so poor that Quest 2 has already exceeded it and/or that a lot of Quest 1 users upgraded to Quest 2. Hence all of the cagey stats, where they just describe improvements in relative terms. “Better sales than before!” or “higher retention than before!” doesn’t necessarily mean things are positive–X multiplied by doesn’t automatically mean “great”. When they stop being cagey with numbers is when you’ll know VR is doing well.

      At the same time though, it should be stated that “looks bad” is different from “bad”. This is a relative term and for a new medium with a ton of issues it’s not at all unusual for the metrics to be bad. But the media, community and developers will judge it relative to established mediums.

    • Lulu Vi Britannia

      I agree with you in general, but in this case, the figures aren’t that absurd. 1.7M new SteamVR users, that’s concrete. 71% more revenue, it’s more vague but it still means a big growth for VR (x1.5).