Valve’s long running Steam Survey has been one of the most transparent data sources for gauging which VR headsets are the most used. Now the company says it’s revamping the way it collects data to more accurately count VR headsets in use on Steam.

Although Steam represents just one of several major VR platforms, it’s the only one of the bunch that transparently presents data about which VR headsets users are using via the Steam Survey which collects data about hardware used by the Steam population. The data helps developers and the rest of the VR industry understand important trends which can inform development, marketing, support, and more. Our last major analysis of the Survey data is here.

Valve tells Road to VR that it’s revamping the way it collects data about VR headsets used on Steam, which should increase the accuracy of the figures in the Survey. The company says that both wireless and less common headsets will now be represented in the data.

Previously, the company explained, VR headsets were counted by the Survey only if they were plugged in via USB at the time the data was collected. The new method will allow SteamVR to report to the Survey any headsets that have been used by the system in the last month, regardless of whether they are plugged in at the time of data collection.

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Valve expects the change will result in a bump in the number of headsets counted in the survey. While the change in data collection hasn’t happened yet, Valve has already tweaked the Survey in a way that shows headsets being used on Steam which never previously appeared in the data, including Pimax headsets and PlayStation VR (which can be used with Steam via some third-party workarounds).

We’ll see the biggest changes when the Survey rolls over to the next month; at last count, it shows that 1.01% of Steam users used a VR headset in February.

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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."
  • Martin355

    Yeah, I got the survey once, but I only plug in my Index when I’m using it. I think this change will result in a sizeable bump.

    • Immersive Computing

      In 4 years of PCVR from Vive and Rift CV1 through Lenovo Explorer and now Index I’ve never received the survey?

      • James Cobalt

        It’s just a little popup window in Steam that asks to send your hardware information to them. I’ve seen it only a handful of times over the years. Perhaps once you grant permission it doesn’t need to get it again for a while?

      • Andrew Jakobs

        You’re not the only one, I also never had such a survey EVER..

        • Immersive Computing

          Yes it’s strange, and how many PCVR owners are not counted?

      • ArSh

        It only pops up on starting up Steam, not SteamVR. And only if you’re randomly selected. I’ve had it a handful of times.

  • kuhpunkt


  • Scott Arthur

    I noticed this when I got the pop-up survey this morning, sure enough it picked up my Quest (which was not Linked at the time) and both Touch controllers. Finally!

    • Matteo Valles

      How does it pick up the Quest? Did you plug it into the computer at some point?

      • Scott Arthur

        Yes, I use the link cable to play SteamVR and Oculus games on my gaming PC through the Quest Link feature. Works great!

  • impurekind


  • JACrazy

    Within the last month is an improvement, but maybe they should have a separate tracker with an even larger time span and present both numbers. A lot of users out there, including me, that havent touched their headset in months. Would also be a good way to track the retention of keeping players engaged with using VR.

    • Blaexe

      The surve – in general – includes monthly active user, so one month makes perfect sense.

  • gamechanger

    This is the only way that makes sens if you want to count Quest Link users.

  • NooYawker

    Now we’ll see that WMR have outsold all other headsets :p

  • Sven Viking

    According to UploadVR the March 2020 survey initially showed VR ownership at 1.07% of Steam users, but if you check it right now it is much higher at 1.29%:

  • Schadows

    My Pimax 5K+ is always plugged in, but not powered up unless I want to use it, hence last time I had the survey popup, I check the results and no VR headset was reported. I tried powering it up and go back, but the data was already collected and the survey answer never changed.

  • DickDastardly

    “Previously, the company explained, VR headsets were counted by the Survey only if they were plugged in via USB at the time the data was collected. The new method will allow SteamVR to report to the Survey any headsets that have been used by the system in the last month, regardless of whether they are plugged in at the time of data collection.”

    If that’s accurate then the inevitable result of the new methodology will be to inflate the proportions for headsets whose primary store is Steam (whilst reducing the proportion of Oculus headsets reported).

    Consider, for example, a user who only has their headset connected to their PC on average one day a month. With the old methodology they only had a 1 in 30 chance of having their headset connected and detected when the survey ran.

    But compare that to their chances with the new system: If they exclusively use Steam VR (let’s say because they’re an Index owner) then they’re now guaranteed to be counted in the survey because they’ll show up in the Steam VR logs for the month, whether or not they happen to have the headset plugged in at the time of the survey. In other words the chance of their headset being counted has gone up by a factor of 30!

    If, however, they’re a Rift owner who has Steam installed for pancake games but only uses the Oculus store for VR content, then the chances of their headset being counted hasn’t changed – it’s still only 1 in 30. In fact this may even also apply if they play VR content on Steam which uses the Oculus API rather than Steam VR (as presumably they wouldn’t show up in the Steam VR logs then either and so would still only be counted if their headset happened to be plugged in at the time of the survey).

    Of course, this is just an example – I suspect most VR users have their headsets plugged in for far more than one day a month, but it explains why there was such a large drop in CV1 users at exactly the time the methodology changed whilst OG Vive users actually went up.

    Presumably the fact that the proportion of Index users reported also increased significantly as a result (despite largely being unavailable to buy during the period in question) was just an accidental by-product (an “unforeseen consequence” if you will) and not the entire reason Valve made the change ;).