VR Usage On Steam Jumps 70% To All Time High Of 3.24% – But Why?

3.24% of Steam users connected a VR headset in May, by far an all time high. But why the sudden jump?

Companies like Meta, Valve, & HTC don’t reveal hardware sales figures. The Steam Hardware Survey remains the most reliable indicator of PC VR’s adoption. The survey is offered to a random sample of Steam’s userbase each month. If you choose to accept, it uploads your PC specifications and peripherals. Before March 2020 the survey relied on headsets being connected via USB at the time of sampling, but Valve changed it to scan your SteamVR logs from the past month.

Valve compiles this data to present the overall percentage of Steam users with a VR headset, as well as the relative usage share of each headset model. Since the survey method was changed the previous all time high for VR users on Steam was 2.31% in March 2021. But the data for May 2022 released on Friday shows a dramatic and unexplained jump to 3.24%.

What caused this? On Friday we reached out to Valve for clarification but we haven’t received a reply.

The lack of any real change in the headset usage share statistics suggests this isn’t the result of a spontaneous Quest 2 sales surge. But could a clue lie in another section of the Hardware Survey? In May the number of users on Steam with their language set to Simplified Chinese dropped 3.38% in absolute terms. Given Steam’s monthly active userbase is 132 million, that’s more than 4 million China-based users dropping off the survey compared to April.

Given none of the most popular VR headsets used on Steam are sold in China, sampling a userbase with fewer Chinese users should result in a larger percentage of VR users. This could explain the all time high VR stat – though it’s unclear what actually caused the reduction in Chinese users in the first place, and the number of Chinese users was also around 22% in November 2021.

Another possibility is that Valve was somehow accidentally undercounting VR users and corrected the error in time for the May statistics. We’ll update this article if we get a response.