Valve Corrects Steam Survey Data Revealing Latest VR Population Growth

2022-09-17 10:55:36 By : Mr. Lucas He

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Valve this week updated its monthly Steam Hardware & Software Survey to fix issues resulting in anomalous VR population data. The corrected figures return the survey to being one of the most useful pieces of public data about the trend of consumer PC VR usage.

If you’ve been following along closely you might have noticed we haven’t reported on the VR data in Valve’s Steam Hardware & Software Survey data in several months. While it has been a largely reliable indicator over the years, starting in May of 2022 the data began to swing wildly in ways that didn’t seem to comport with any trends in the real world.

After not hearing anything from Valve for several months on the issue, this week the company finally told us that it has now fixed “a few issues” with the data collection and reporting, and “expects to have more accurate results going forward.”

The company also provided us with corrected data for the months in question (May, June, July, & August); while we didn’t get the full set of corrected data (since the survey only shows the current month’s data), we got the most important data point for each month (the percent of all Steam users with connected headsets), allowing us to update our estimate of VR headsets in use on Steam.

Each month Valve collects info from Steam users to determine some baseline statistics about what kind of hardware and software is used by the platform’s population, and to see how things are changing over time, including the use of VR headsets.

The data shared in the survey represents the number of headsets connected to Steam over a given month, so we call the resulting figure ‘monthly-connected headsets’ for clarity; it’s the closest official figure there is to ‘monthly active VR users’ on Steam, with the caveat that it only tells us how many VR headsets were connected, not how many were actually used.

While Valve’s data is a useful way see which headsets are most popular on Steam, the trend of monthly-connected headsets is obfuscated because the data is given exclusively as percentages relative to Steam’s population—which itself is an unstated and constantly fluctuating figure.

To demystify the data Road to VR maintains a model, based on the historical survey data along with official data points directly from Valve and Steam, which aims to correct for Steam’s changing population and estimate the actual count—not the percent—of headsets being used on Steam.

The updated data shows that, on average, VR saw slight growth over the Summer with an estimated 3 million monthly-connected VR headsets on Steam in August.

While normally we’d have a further breakdown of specific changes in the share of indiviaul headsets and headset vendors on Steam, we haven’t (and don’t expect to) receive that corrected data at this point, so we’ll have to wait for next month for new figures.

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Wonder how many are virtual VR headsets (bots) in their numbers.

If there’s a reason to do that, it’s not especially obvious to me. It’s not like Valve is a public company trying to inflate their stock price.

What purpose would it serve to have a computer with steam installed plus a virtual headset?

the same purpose of even publishing BROKEN data for months, and not even replying for months to those who questioned it. valve DOES NOT GIVE A FUCK about vr, never have, never will. if the stats shown 300% of all steam users owned a headset, they would still publish it.

actual in-vr-games numbers have been absolutetly shrinking, and heve NEVER EVER even reached to HALF of ALYX numbers from release date 901 days ago, where OVER 40k people ran alyx at once. never ever again steamvr have seen even half of it, despite vr becoming cheaper thanks to quest. never ever had it even 20k at once across ALL vr games, incl alyx. pcvr is a fucking joke.

What’s your deal with Valve?

Deal? Complete disappointment by anything VR-related. Tons of lies over the years, including wireless being a solved problem in 2017, promising of cheaper lighthouses towards end of 2016; the status of steamvr; the mechanics of alyx being years behind even indie games; supplying devkits of their controllers for developers for years and not doing anything with them other than a handshake demo.

There is literally not a single positive thing regarding valve involvment. None.

He is a troll. He always talk shit about VR. He’s “disappointed and calling people names” I don’t think he even uses VR because lots he says make no sense at all if you like VR games. He is a result of “steam fanboys” raining these boards earlier. You know fanboyism.

Data and leakers have shown Valve is developing a new VR headset. It seems it will be the Steam deck version of VR headset. You will be able to run pcvr and stand alone pcvr for what I have understand. As like Steam deck can run windows pc games.

oh wow. data and leakers. your boy sadleyitsbradley? lmao

you’re clearly paid by valve steam propagandist. steam deck is a glorified, SUPERHOT (haha) 720p 30fps gaming device. have fun wearing a hotbrick on your face, playing x86/x64 binaries of essentially mobile games.

Maybe check your sources regarding cheaper lighthouses and wireless addons – those were “leaked” years ago.

You need to go outside and touch grass or get laid, jeez my dude chill the f out.

stop getting triggered you valve shill.

He’s a virgin that’s his deal.

He’s someone who simultaneously thinks Valve “DOES NOT GIVE A **** about vr, never have, never will”, and that Valve pays shills to comment on VR news sites in an attempt to trick people into thinking they care about VR.

Lets just say that for someone fully convinced about the death of PCVR (whatever that may entail) he sure is interested in the same. My advice is for him to so something else with his life. It’s just sad at this point.

he probably doesn’t have a social life outside of this comment section. Sad, really.

*I* don’t have a life outside this comment section. Really: all I do is eat/sleep/Quest 2/here. But you don’t see *me* crowin’ about it!

not to nearly the same extent, yes.

Oh man, that’s some good self-depreciating humor, and NOT everything in bold! Here is an upvote.

his comments are rife with these contradictions. It’s really funny reading them.

I came here only to read basement virgins take on the whole ordeal. Now I can finally sleep again.

hey look! another guy got triggered at facts.

Bro, the only one triggered up in here is you, clean your room, take a shower and go outside.

if you didn’t get triggered, you wouldn’t be commenting here pretending like you have any sort of authority here. get lost. jump into volcano or something.

definietly plenty. games like pavlov inflate their playerbase by half this way. and pavlov is always in top 5.

Good question, I have tidbits of answers…

Oh, throw us some tidbits, even if it some Meta-corps!

cool. At least they did something and didn’t leave us in silence…

Interestingly the fixed graph still follows the trend of the false date. Numbers reported from March to August were 2.13%, 1.89%, 3.24%, 1.87%, 6.67%, 2.23%. Multiplied by the average 132mn Steam users reported for 2021 this means 2.81mn, 2.49mn, 4.28mn, 2.47mn, 8.80mn, 2.94mn, with May and July being the bad data outliers.

Unfortunately the corrected numbers for May, June, July and August that RoadToVR got from Valve weren’t included in the article, and their base seems to be larger than 132mn, but for the non-outlier months the graph shown pretty much still matches the data we got before. So I had to guess the corrected numbers from the graph, making the following even more error prone than it would be anyway:

Looking for possible causes of the wrongly reported numbers, I tried to find any relations between them and the now corrected data. Nothing too obvious found, and the two unrelated thing below are more likely random chance than the actual cause, but nonetheless:

– The original May number was 3.24% ≈ 4.28mn, but the corrected graph now shows the number as about 3.24mn, so maybe the user numbers were incorrectly transcribed as percentages.

– 8.8mn in July would have been 356% of the 2.47mn in June. My estimate for these numbers from the corrected graph above was 3.4mn and 2.5mn, with a suspicious factor of 1.36. Given that you can express any percentage as a factor, this means 136% total or 36% added, making it possible that somehow 36% (or 35.6%) turned into 356%.

This is of course extremely speculative. I’m looking for such connections because I worked in data management for clinical research for a long time, where you had to find similar errors that often happened when people manually transferred numbers to forms. And it is a very good argument why you should always report the actual numbers in addition to showing the graph, because this would allow checking if this is just coincidence or if the precise numbers would match.

Hm… what I seem to see is a modest rise of “0” to 1 million until about February 2020, then a jump to 2 million in April 2020 followed by another modest increase till 3 million today. So, a bit of speculation here: if that jump is Half Life: Alyx then it is clear that VR is not so much held back by hardware innovation, but by the lack of AAA games… meaning that Sony PSVR2 and Apple have a much better chance to conquer a large piece of the market, provided they offer good games…

That jump was HL:A, making a good argument for the lack of content being the problem. On the other hand the (smaller) next jump a few month later was the Quest 2 introduction and matching holiday season, with a significant drop a few months later, indicating a lot of people dropped out again. The same repeated a year later for the 2021 holiday season, making a good argument about the importance of cheap hardware. The cool down we saw mid 2021 is now somewhat mushed in (still) very jump 2022 Steam data.

Yeah, good content and affordable hardware to play it on make a lot of sense as important factors.

It just occurred to me that there must be at least a third factor. The available content and affordable hardware certainly isn’t perfect, though good enough to at least stay interested. But apparently this doesn’t apply to a significant part of those who got their Quest 2 as a Christmas present.

2021/2022 saw a high jump for Jan/Feb/Mar, then a short drop in April followed by a small or despite the correction still strangely large jump up in May. The rise after January in 2021 might be due to not everybody getting their Quest 2 in time, while user counts in 2022 stayed flat in Q1. So statistically most of those that bothered to even unpack the device and connect it to Steam on average stuck to it for three to four months only.

This in contrast to the HL:A release that caused a lasting doubling of user numbers. There may be a number of reasons. As these are Quest users, it could be that some of them only connected to Steam to play HL:A, and when they are done after a few weeks, they go back to Quest native titles only. But last October I used the data RoadToVR publishes every month for the number of new ratings in the Quest store top 20 as a second source, and found a very similar curve with a decline from January to April, small rise in May and lower numbers for the rest of the year, indicating that this isn’t only Quest users on Steam, but Quest users in general.

I’d argue that nobody can run out of either Quest or PCVR titles worth trying in just a few months, and since the dropouts stuck to it for at least some time, they must have found the experience worthwhile. Since they already had the cheap hardware and the loss in interest can’t be HL:A or a general lack of titles only, my best guesses for the third factor would be Wow-factor and/or ergonomics.

The Wow factor is very strong at the beginning, but wears off after some time of trying VR yourself and showing it to others, while the rather bad ergonomics are something that many will tolerate for some time, esp. if it is covered by the Wow factor, but get more annoying over time if no way to improve it is found, as comfort becomes more important once VR usage moves from mostly high excitement to include more regular, casual and relaxed use.

So we would need good content to draw people in, affordable headsets so they (or whoever pays for their gifts) are willing make the jump, but then also a convenient and comfortable experience to get them to stick around and try more titles after the initial rush. We sort of have the first two at least somewhat covered, while the third is IMHO still seriously lacking, but hopefully improving.

If the main problem is actually the Wow factor wearing off for most new users, VR might be in more serious trouble, as this would sort of permanently relegate VR to a short term gadget for the majority, and isn’t easy to work around.

There are a lot of good games on Quest and PC but I think “lack of AAA games” still applies to be honest. Even on PC where there’s a good backlog and some good flat2VR mods, a lot of people only really follow new games.

You’re right, though, there’re definitely more than two major factors and I think comfort/friction is definitely one of them. I propose “having more celebrities pretend you look cool while wearing VR hardware” might potentially be another.

Hm, never considered the “celebrities making it look good” factor. Not even joking, this could give Pico a significant advantage, if they somehow manage to tap into the gigantic TikTok crowd and get enough of their influencers to start creating “cool” mixed reality video snippets.

hahaha Apple? You are kidding right?

The minute Apple doesn’t make a billion dollars on AR/VR in a couple quarters they will drop it like a hot potato.

You seriously underestimate Apple’s long term perspective. They’ve been actively developing AR/VR (and buying lots of companies related to it) for many of years. E.g. 2013 they bought PrimeSense, founded in 2005 and creators of the depth camera in the 2010 Xbox 360 Kinect, with a similar sensor now rumored to be included in the upcoming Meta Cambria/Quest Pro to improve room and hand tracking over the current 2D camera/SLAM based solution.

They also posted a job offer for a Senior Display Systems Engineer in 2015 that included the following requirements:

* Candidate must be experienced in selecting and designing with a variety of display (monitor and projection) technologies. * Candidate must understand how to drive displays from multiple synced sources at high frame rates with low latency. * Candidate must understand the key issues associated with developing extremely high fidelity VR environments. * An understanding of computer graphics algorithms associated with warping and calibration.

Apple isn’t driven by quarters, they are driven by decades. They also provide service for their product much longer than pretty much everybody else. Technically the 2023 realityOS will be based on the by then 35 year old NeXTSTEP OS they bought in 1996, which everybody else copied since then. And any impression of short term developments is more driven by their secrecy, revealing products only shortly before they come to market, even if they have been in development for dozens of years.

Certainly you don’t often see “Apple” and “AAA games” in the same sentence.

You are right, I meant they might capture market share on the business side of things, but the way I wrote it suggest I see major games coming on Apple’s VR kit. Sorry, should not have brought in Apple after the story of the games sale.

True, but their users care, even if Apple itself doesn’t, and their tech has been quite a driving force for VR. Unity, used for the majority of VR titles, was initially a MacOS only game engine. The first affordable consumer VR viewer (2012 FOV2GO by USC Mixed Reality Lab, where Palmer Luckey worked part-time) was enabled by the iPhone 4 retina display, the first hires mobile phone display.

Epic Citadel, still my favorite tech demo, created to demonstrate the Unreal Engine’s capabilities for iPhone games, was the precursor for the first ever mobile AAA, the iOS exclusive “Infinity Blade” 1-3. And if you ever took a ride on the now infamous Oculus Rift DK1 RiftCoaster, which spawned hundreds of YouTube videos of the first VR users loudly screaming and thereby introducing lots of people to the immersiveness of VR, you have actually driven through the Epic Citadel, because it was included as a demo asset in the Unreal Development Kit used for the creation of RiftCoaster.

Not surprised new data issues cropped up, since there have been a lot of suspicious factors in certain months for a long time. It’s nice to have a correction now. The uptrend remains, but it has been linear since the Half Life boost ended. Hardly surprising given how starved the market has been for new headset technology and major game releases. Index 2 when?

when no person on earth is willing to pay full price for 3+ year old headset. so keep waiting.

That’s a pretty good point. I wonder if their costs of making them went down at all?

If their costs only went higher for something they absolutetly do not subsidize, then they are a horrible planners, which they fully are btw.

Well, I thought they were bad hardware planners until I saw them deploy the Deck and their repair service. So maybe there is some hope…? But I’m not convinced until I see it.

Also, the last two years everything has been going up. Like, even Apple just raised like 21% their latest phone here in Japan to make up for it, and Apple is good at this stuff. And so did Meta with the Quest 2, for the same reasons. So if it stays on the same price I guess it counts as a “discount”… Still wouldn’t buy the index at this price and time.

Let’s not compare a pair of lenses with two screens and gyroscope, closed in a plastic shape anywhere near the same level of complexity as iPhones. Quest 2 was subsidized. Deck is. But obviously they made more money in the first month from on-Deck-Steam sales than all years of VR combined.

I wouldn’t buy Index at that price even on release date. That thing was a complete joke. And since it doesn’t really make money, and there is enough demand, they can keep selling the old hardware indefinietly. Just look at Nofio kickstarter. They collected more money than actual VR game developers on PCVR.

I mean, many VR headsets take a lot of the same components that phones, or quite similar. I would argue its fair to compare them, specially since their pieces are subjected to the same geopolitical pressures that make the price go up or down.

And yeah, the index was a tad too expensive for me too, even on release. It is an okay headset, don’t get me wrong, but just okay for that price… okay doesn’t cut it, specially those displays, if they had gotten some BOE OLED panels like their prototypes had, then most likely it would have been a better value proposition, since image quality would have been so much higher.

And well, I don’t think is fair to compare the market for portable gaming to VR at all. There is a reason portable consoles sell way more on average than their bigger counterparts.

“Portable gaming” as in steam deck alike, aka handheld PCs were a thing for years – for essentially double the price. Then you have huge corporation like valve coming in, and offering more for less, essentially wiping out entire competition. The “openess” of deck is not a factor at all, it’s not noble to open to “other stores” when you have like 95% control over all software sales in the industry.

And no, I don’t agree with vr headsets sharing a lot of components of the phones. Especially lighthouse tracked ones. There is no GPU, no CPU, no GPS antenna, no GSM antenna, no SIM card slo, no memory card, no operating system to write. Lighthouse driven headsets are essentially monitors with gyroscope – your computer is doing all the hard work. You might have cameras with inside out tracking headsets, but hey, Quest 2 has 50% of steam, and then it’s index with 15%. Nothing else matters.

If everyone is raising prices, so will Valve. Not because they have to, but because they can. Won’t surprise me if next year deck will get more expensive. Would be weird to raise price of something that is barely out yet for many.

Oh Boy, I see the Virgin is still at it. You literally writing essays up in here. Go outside!

day 256, still getting triggered by virgin comments.

I have like 30 comments total in disqus compared to your 1800 comments. If anybody is about getting triggered it’s you bro. Loser vibes, get out , meet people and stop whining about everything.

i’m commenting the articles, you’re telling me to touch grass or something. get the hell out and get a life.

ah yes, and deckard is coming “soon”. dude stop getting so excited about something that doesn’t exist. you’re such a disappointment

This corrected survey is also wrong! When Steam asked me to participate on the survey last year, my VR headset was not detected, but I was thinking it was a Steam bug. But this summer I participated again in the survey and again saying no VR headset was detected. I checked everything. But in the VR section was saying: No VR headset detected… And my Windows Mixed Reality was connected! I checked all drivers, opened VR Apps and everything was working correctly, I restarted, nothing, I was thinking there was a Windows 11 problem, so I tried on a Windows 10 installation also with same results. I tried about 10 times or more (even with SteamVR running a game) until the survey correctly shown a Windows Mixed Reality headset connected. If all Windows Mixed Reality users are silenced like my case, it could be a big impact in the charts, maybe the world is full of WMR headsets (some are cheaper than Quest, and I know a lot of people using VR only thanks to the low price of WMR, but able to play SteamVR games better than Quest).

I just noticed you went through all my disqus comments and downvoted them, even ones on other articles. Total loser vibes. I feel sorry for you.

thanks for confirming you did get triggered.

Buddy I’m not the one spending all my free time tacking down someone elses comments in order to downvote them. You literally live on here, sad. Please go outside, meet real people, maybe even find someone to love and that can love you.

so yet again you got triggered. instead of being outside, making love, eating salads, playing with the dog, you are out there giving a life lessons to a virgin online? LMAO! once again you are commenting on me, and not the article. you’re an embarassment.