According to the just-released November figures from Steam’s Hardware & Software Survey, the HTC Vive has scraped its way back from nearly losing the majority market share of VR headsets in use on Steam last month, finally ending a months long streak of Rift marketshare gains on the platform. For the first time we’re also beginning to see what appears to be the Windows VR headsets moving the needle on Steam.

Steam is the de facto content platform for the HTC Vive, though it technically supports the Rift too; plenty of Rifters use both the official Oculus Home platform and Steam to play content which may not be available on the opposing platform.

Each month, Valve runs a survey among Steam users to determine some baseline statistics about what kind of hardware and software is used by the user population, and to see how things are changing over time; that includes which VR headsets are connected to users’ computers. Participation in the survey is optional.

The latest results for the month of November show the Vive gaining 0.7% marketshare, which, combined with Rift’s loss of 1.6%, shows the headset backing away from the brink of losing its majority hold on the platform. With Steam as its primary content platform, the Vive holds onto its lead against the Rift, making up 49.5% of all VR headsets in use on the platform.

The Rift DK2 development kit also gave up 0.8% share compared to the month prior, making way for greater share of other headsets. The DK2, which launched in 2014, still holds 2.5% of the total share of VR headsets in use on Steam. Combined, the consumer Rift and the Rift DK2 hold 48.5% of the Steam VR headset share, down from 50.9% the month prior.

Exactly how many Rift users use Steam among the total population of Rift users is unknown, making it largely futile to extrapolate the data in an effort to determine headset market share across all platforms. Many analyst estimates put the Vive ahead of the Rift in total sales, though in the consumer space, Oculus’ aggressive price cutting has allowed the headset to gain significant ground over the course of the last few months. Oculus also recently introduced an ‘Oculus for Business’ package, attempting to capture some of the commercial market where Vive appears to have a strong hold.

Oculus Gets Down to Business With New Rift Bundle Aimed at Commercial Use

Though it seems to have been a strong sales season for VR headsets—with reduces prices and bundles aplenty—Black Friday and Cyber Monday fall toward the end of November; with shipping time (and some headsets likely remaining in their boxes as holiday gifts), we won’t likely see the true impact of the sales season on Steam’s figures until December’s data is published.

The latest figures could mean several things beyond just more headsets in the hands of new users hands: A portion of the gains may have been made up not only by new headsets entering the market, but could have come from existing Vive owners using their headsets more, and/or existing Rift users using their headsets less (potentially driven by anticipated game launches or lack thereof).

The latest figures also report a 0.02% reduction in overall VR headset use when compared to the entire Steam population, though given that we know that Oculus and HTC are still selling headsets, the most likely explanation seems to be that the rate of new non-VR users joining/using Steam is outpacing the rate of new VR users joining the service.

While the Rift and Vive vie for the top spot on Steam, a new set of headsets has entered the fray. For the first time on the VR Headsets graph on the Steam Hardware & Software survey, we’re seeing a tiny black part at the top right of the plot representing headsets other than the Vive or Rifts. The logical conclusion is that this segment, though not defined in the key, represents the Windows VR headsets which just this month got access to a SteamVR preview allowing them to tap into content on the platform.

Apple and Valve Have Worked Together for Nearly a Year to Bring VR to MacOS

Though not aren’t specified on the graph, we can see that the missing portion makes up 2% of the total, showing a small start for the Windows VR headsets on Steam. The share of Windows VR headsets on the platform is likely to grow more substantially once the ‘Windows Mixed Reality for SteamVR’ module leaves early access and becomes better publicized. Eventually Valve may update their data reporting to segment out each of those headsets instead of grouping them into the unknown set.

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  • Pyro

    Eh, I think we all know the Rift is ahead. Not all Rift users use Steam, and these hardware surveys are junk anyway with a pretty limited survey group. Make the monthly survey an option that ALL Steam users can participate in within the first week of each month and we’ll see some more accurate figures.

  • Veron

    The Rift has most likely outsold the Vive. Wishful thinking to imagine every Rift users is on Steam.
    it certainly outsold Vive last quarter.

    • DiGiCT Ltd

      That’s just one of your personal opinions, without accurate data it’s useless to make this statement.
      Eventually rift will be the first being overrun by better alternatives for same or even less money.
      personally I would rather buy an Samsung instead of a rift, besides that I use mostly still the give for tracking but it might get replaced by 8k pimax if it will work out.
      give still has superiority in tracking compared to others, eventually it will also be replaced.

      Based on your posts I can clearly see your an occulus lover, but for real accurate predictions you should stay open minded as the rift is far from perfection, just 1st gen which was never delivered as it should have been from start.

      Don’t forget the story it was sold with a gamepad for $600 telling everyone it was sold without profit.

      The rest you can fill in yourself…..

      • Justos

        Wow its almost as if 2 years can bring costs down.

    • Max Cheung

      But facebook has given up VR as a gaming device.

      • Says who?
        FB was never into gaming to begin w/, anyway.
        It’s all on octopus(Oculus).

    • care package

      I still think it’s strange to imply Vive market share is going up. People are still buying the Vive over Rift? Hard to believe.

      • Max Cheung

        I am buying Vive other than rift tho.
        The lighthouse technology is much better and future-proof.
        e.g. i dont think Valve’s knuckle controller supports rift’s camera tracking

        • care package

          As they admitted on Tested. Lighthouse is more precise but overkill for what we do in VR. In other words rift tracking works perfectly fine. Because of this i find it odd anyone would buy a vive based off lighthouse tech. Not sure i would say its future proof. Looks like the future of VR is inside out tracking

          • NooYawker

            Right now light houses is the best tech for VR. Inside out is on MS mixed reality but it isn’t as good. Using your logic buying the inferior mixed reality is a better decision.
            Some people just choose the best hardware available.

          • care package

            Ill just repeat what i suspect you didnt get. Lighthouse is better, as i said, but its overkill. Not my logic. The future of VR is inside out IMO. its not about the better tech or the better decision. Its what the average consumer will gravitate to. MS put all their bet on it. Rift is developing it. Its about weighing the positives vs the negatives. Cmon dude think.

          • NooYawker

            “Because of this i find it odd anyone would buy a vive based off lighthouse tech. Not sure i would say its future proof. Looks like the future of VR is inside out tracking“
            You posted that. And I’m telling you why people are buying the vive. It’s the best tech out today. Not sure what part of that yoI don’t understand.
            As for overkill some people have large place spaces like myself.

          • care package

            And yet i still find it odd. A lot to consider beyond just one feature that most wouldnt need. When i said overkill its the better precision im talking about. Calling it the ‘best tech’ isnt true at Rift motion controls are far better in many ways. Headset is better in many ways. Overall the Rift is the better tech. How bout those windows VR HMDs. Some consider inside out tracking better technology. Better resolutions too. Was your decision based purely off going large room scale when very few VR games are even designed around it?

          • NooYawker

            I bought mine early on when the rift was really only 180 and didn’t have touch controllers yet. If I was buying one right now I’d probably get the MS mixed reality.

          • care package

            Topic at hand was about Vive increasing market share now, whuch is what i find strange. Not sure i believe it

          • Caven

            Don’t underestimate the differences in sensor setup. I have both a Rift and a Vive, and my room’s layout makes a semi-permanent 360-degree setup completely impossible without routing USB cables along the walls and ceiling–which I don’t have the luxury of doing. Since the Lighthouses don’t have to connect to the computer, I’m able to place them wherever there is a convenient AC outlet. If I ever have to relocate my computer within the room (which has happened before), I don’t have to touch the Lighthouses, whereas I’d have to rerun the USB cabling needed for the Rift setup.

            I don’t really care about roomscale, but I do care about a 360-degree play space. The Lighthouses make a 360-degree setup much, much easier for me, though of course it was an easy decision at the time since my Vive purchase predates Oculus Touch by a significant margin. The Rift has a lot of advantages, but out of all the 360-capable headsets, it comes in dead last for ease of setup. The Rift’s advantages mean little if I to place sensors and recalibrate every single time I want to use the Rift. Sure, not everyone will have this problem, especially if they have the benefit of an appropriately-sized dedicated room that’s not used by other people. But in my case, the Vive or one of the Microsoft VR headsets would be much better choices than the Rift for a 360-degree setup I don’t have to dismantle every time I’m done using it.

          • care package

            Buying a vive over a rift would be like kicking your own ass. I bought a third sensor for my rift at one point and ended up cancelling it. I get 97% full 360 with the two sensors which i felt was good enough and its been good enough.

          • Caven

            My scenario is hardly silly. The room I use for VR is a den. It’s a large, rectangular room with a lot of floor space in the middle and my computer against one wall. It’s actually a very nice space for VR with a large enough playspace to exceed the recommended maximum distance for sensor placement. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of dedicating the room to VR, so any sensors need to be kept out of the way and no drilling into walls or ceiling. With Lighthouses on poles, I can place them anywhere along the perimeter of the room that give convenient access to a power outlet. With a Rift, even trying to simulate Lighthouse placement with two sensors would require USB cables in the 5-10 meter range depending on exact placement.

            I’m definitely not the only person with that issue, as Ian Hamilton at UploadVR posted the following in an article today:

            “At OC4 I talked to Nate Mitchell, Oculus co-founder and head of Rift. I expressed to him how frustrating it is to set aside three USB ports on your PC and run cords around your house to three cameras in order to enjoy a fair amount of freedom in an Oculus Rift. I asked him if those things would improve eventually.”

            Considering Nate Mitchell didn’t dismiss his concerns (something Oculus used to do even while developing technology that undermined their own claims), it doesn’t sound like Oculus thinks it’s a non-issue. Their own continuing work in mobile VR and inside-out tracking also points toward sensor setups being more of a nuisance than they’re worth.

            Sure, it’s not a problem for some people, especially people with setups in smaller rooms that don’t grossly exceed the recommended playspace size for the Rift, especially if they also can route cables on the floor without them being a trip hazard, or route them across walls and ceiling. But “problem” or not, the cables still have to be dealt with for a 360-degree setup. Considering how many people have complained about how hard it is to get a roomscale space in the first place, I have trouble believing that cable routing for a 360-degree setup is suddenly a non-issue, especially when the Rift sensors don’t have cables long enough to allow for routing along multiple walls of a room.

            As to your doubts as to whether I’d pick a Vive over a Rift today given the choice between the two, I’d have no choice but to get the Vive, even at the higher cost and less comfortable controllers. The Rift works quite well and definitely has its advantages, but what’s the point in buying something I simply cannot use without major recurring inconvenience?

            Question: You mention using only two sensors on the Rift. Do you have them placed at your desk as per the normal forward-facing setup, or do you have them facing into the playspace from opposite corners?

          • care package

            I only meant silly as in the fact you have to set it up every time you want to use it. That changes everything. The story you gave addresses needing 3 ports, which really isn’t a problem for the most part, even if you have to run extensions…..IF it’s a permanent install. Your situation vs. needing 3 ports on your PC really are two separate situations.
            My sensors are 74 inches high in the front corners of the room, so basically a higher and wider front setup. wall is about 11 feet apart. Have them mounted using 1/4 inch cheap speaker mounts. Corners always have a stud side so one grabber for each mount.

    • lmoai

      It’s more wishful thinking that Rift users are only Oculus store. lol.
      The interesting, unique and free experiences are all on Steam. And I can’t imagine someone with a PCVR has never play The Lab.

      • RFC_VR

        Yes, The Lab is awesome, I’ve spent 19 hours in The Lab!

    • Ethan James Trombley

      Possibly, but as long as you have a Rift and steam, regardless of if you use steam VR, then the survey detects the Rift. I just bought a Rift this month but haven’t really been able to compare to my Vive since mine has floor tilt issues. The room-scale being significantly smaller is very very. Noticeable though.

      • daveinpublic

        We don’t really know how they calculate it, if they detect someone in Rift who didn’t use Steam this month.

        • Ethan James Trombley

          That’s fair. Idk I love them both I have no care for individual sales as long as the industry is growing :)

  • impurekind

    Yeah, it’s not really surprising that more people are playing Vive on Steam than Rift on Steam when Rift isn’t specifically built around it. I mean, I own a Rift and I have Steam with a few VR games installed, but I almost never actually play any of my Steam VR games on my Rift via Steam VR because it’s seriously clunky and convoluted crap.

    • NooYawker

      But you used steam and they would count you as a rift user.

    • Caven

      NooYawker is right. I’ve tested this myself, and the Steam Hardware Survey will detect an Oculus Rift if it’s plugged in–even if SteamVR isn’t running and the Oculus software has never been installed.

      • impurekind

        Well, that makes some sense. So, presuming it works as we think, I guess it’s just about how many Rift users don’t have Steam installed at all then. I expect that would still be a high enough number to tip the scales in Rift’s favour.

  • bschuler

    I think early VR is like the early days of the internet. Back then, you had a ton of AOL users who just used AOL and didn’t even realize the internet was out there, just a click away. It took a long time until those people felt comfortable using the full internet and taking off the AOL training wheels. Same thing is happening with VR, as people stick to their proprietary stores and will eventually discover the outside world.

    • NooYawker

      Steam isn’t proprietary, they support all hardware including oculus if the dev supports it. Flat screen gamers all use steam and they’ll continue to use steam with their VR hardware. There are some oculus users who doesn’t use steam but how many is unknown.

  • Rift has it’s own storefront
    Windows VR is fairly new.
    Steam is a bloody mess.
    What else is new…

    • NooYawker

      Many rift users don’t use steam but what dev would think it’s beneficial to pull out of steam? Steam has 10’s of millions of users. Facebooks oculus store has a few hundred thousand.

      • You can skip to 7:50 to get to the dev input…But the whole video is relevant

        • NooYawker

          That was a difficult video to watch. Thanks for giving me where to skip to. Indie devs will always have problems getting their games attention but what’s their alternative? No doubt steam needs to find a solution for the flood of crapware.

  • Yoshi

    I think it’s only natural for the Rift and Vive to maintain the majority of the market share at the moment. For many people that already have a headset like the Vive, jumping to a windows headset with similar or only slightly better specs doesn’t make sense. Of course, as soon as the truly next-gen headsets come out, I’m sure the market share will start to look different.

  • Very interesting to know that Oculus has loss shares… it’s strange since it continues to be cheaper

    • Pablo C

      IMO November people waited for black friday

  • J.C.

    In the next couple years, new headsets and controllers and sensor systems will arrive with massive advantages, making our current VR headsets look quaint. Who will have the best one? Worrying about it now is pointless. What we SHOULD be doing is focusing on the GAMES that use VR best, as they will dictate how standards for the medium emerge. Everyone’s so damn concerned about who’s on what hardware, instead of “what’s the best stuff to DO with this hardware?”

    I keep seeing good games showing up on the Oculus Store, but they’ve made it very clear they don’t want my money. They’ve lowered the price of the headset to equal or less than cost of production, so their store is their plan for monetization…why are they ignoring at least half of the VR hardware owner population? You can say it’s to build a brand, but again…this is ALL first-gen hardware. What happens *IF* the next Rift is way behind the curve? Would you buy it ANYWAY, because *not* buying it means having to rely on a third party hack to retain access to your purchases?

    Not ONE person who’s goofed around on my Vive has given a damn about who makes the headset….they talk about the games/experiences. The brand of VR headset you use shouldn’t matter any more than the brand of motherboard you’re using. You should be able to buy the best one you can afford, without worrying about whether or not it can access games you want.

  • Armando Tavares

    Win MR devices will own the market sooner then most people think if MS partners move as I think they will.

    Oculus and Vive are ignoring a HUGE chunk of the market: RETAIL and the collective responsible for Win MR devices are retail MONSTERS. As soon as they start flooding retail with Win MR devices, Oculus and Vive can kiss the number 1 position bye bye.

    I predict right here and now that, in 2 to 3 years time, Win MR will be dominating the VR market. STEAM or otherwise.

  • Ombra Alberto

    I do not use Steam.
    Steam is not active even in the Background.

    I own a Rift.

  • daveinpublic

    Seems odd to base headset statistics off of one of the ‘competitors’ in the field. Usually a 3rd party company handles this. I see why Steam is doing it, but why would a journalist present them as conclusive?

    We don’t know how Steam is calculating their numbers. Are they using ‘active’ headsets each month? If so, headsets not ‘checking in’ with Steam may not signal Oculus Rifts are less popular, but that Steam games are underperforming, poor quality, shorter replay value… Oculus users could be spending larger amounts of time in the Oculus Home, using exclusive games, etc, so it could equally be a bad sign for the Steam store. I think it’s odd to base an article on numbers from one of the competitors in a market analysis.

    • benz145

      The numbers only speak to what’s happening on Steam, and the article explicitly states that.

  • gothicvillas

    Lets put it this way, Facebook will never have my money.