Quest 3 Now Used On Steam As Much As Valve Index As Some Owners Upgrade

Meta Quest 3 was used for SteamVR almost as much as Valve Index in April.

This data comes from the Steam Hardware & Software Survey, which is offered to a random sample of Steam’s user base each month. If you accept, it uploads a list of your PC specs and peripherals to Valve, as well as any headset used on SteamVR in the past month.

While Quest 3 is a standalone headset, it can also act as a PC VR headset via USB cable with the built-in Quest Link feature, or wirelessly via Wi-Fi with the built-in Air Link, Valve’s official Steam Link Quest app, or Guy Godin’s $20 Virtual Desktop.

Quest 3 launched in mid-October. By November’s data it was already the 5th most used headset on Steam, in December it surpassed the HTC Vive to become the 4th, and in January it surpassed Oculus Rift S to become the 3rd.

The usage growth velocity of Quest 3 on Steam has slowed down significantly since February, but has still continued to progress. Now in April, it’s within 0.43% of Valve Index. That suggests it could surpass Index some time in the summer, or at least later in the year as upcoming exclusives draw more Quest 3 buyers.

The overall percentage of Steam users with VR headsets increased from 1.82% to 1.92%. Filtering out Chinese language users, PC VR continues to slowly but steadily grow.

Index Has Had A Long Life, But Is Now On The Decline

Valve Index will soon be five years old, yet is still sold at $1000 for the full kit. That it’s still the second most used headset on Steam despite its low resolution compared to modern headsets is remarkable. This level of retention is a testament to both the quality of the hardware and to Valve’s brand loyalty.

Oculus Rift S launched within a month of Index back in mid-2019 at less than half the price and had significantly higher usage on SteamVR for the first few years. But by late 2021 Index had surpassed it and today has around double the usage. Many Rift S owners likely upgraded to Quest 2 or Quest 3, while some others may have stopped using VR altogether.

Index owners on the other hand mostly held out, with many likely waiting for a new headset from Valve or a spiritual successor from another company that supports their SteamVR base stations. Absent either though, some appear to now be finally upgrading – to Meta’s Quest 3.

Index usage peaked at around 21% of SteamVR users just before Quest 3 launched, yet is now used by around 16%. In that same time the overall percentage of Steam users with a VR headsethas only slightly increased, yet Quest 3 has jumped to 15%. It’s clear that many of these Quest 3 users are upgrading, not new PC VR users, and Index is one of the headsets they’re upgrading from.

Valve Index
Quest 3

Price
$1000
$500

Wired PC VR
Native
(DisplayPort)
Compressed
(USB)

Wireless PC VR
w/ $450 sold out
third-party adapter
Wi-Fi 6E
built-in

Lenses
Fresnel
Pancake

Displays
1440×1600 LCDs
(up to 144Hz)
2064×2208 LCDs
(up to 120Hz)

Audio
Off-ear BMRs
(high quality)
In-strap speakers
(low-mid quality)

Tracking
Base stations
Inside-out SLAM

Hand Tracking

Body Tracking
w/ Vive Trackers
($400+)
Upper body
(built-in)

For half the price, Quest 3 offers sharper pancake lenses, twice the number of pixels, and built-in Wi-Fi 6E and upper-body tracking. Index has much higher quality built-in audio thanks to its off-ear BMRs, but for some owners this won’t make up for its outdated lenses and displays.

Valve has directly confirmed on multiple occasions throughout the years that it’s working on a new headset, but hasn’t yet formally announced or teased a specific product. With Index’s five-year anniversary arriving in less than two months many owners will be hoping to see a tease, at the very least, of what’s next. But will they get one, or with Steam Link is Valve now happy to cede the hardware side of VR to Meta and its Horizon OS partners?

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