Since the release of Oculus Link, it’s been easy to forget the whole point of the Oculus Quest; most people do not own a gaming PC.
Late on Wednesday, Valve revealed what percentage of SteamVR users have each headset (by scanning SteamVR logs from the previous month). The PC-only Oculus Rift S is in the lead, used by 27% of SteamVR users. But the “hybrid” Oculus Quest is sitting at just 2.89%.
It seems extremely likely that Facebook has sold more Oculus Quests than Rift S. For months now the Quest has been out of stock, with executives repeatedly explaining that units are selling as fast as they can be manufactured. No such statement has been made about Rift S, and its shipping time estimates were always shorter. More directly, though, some VR devs who release on the Oculus store for Quest are reporting their strongest sales on any platform are coming via standalone.
So the 2.89% figure seemed to leave some in the industry seriously confused at Valve’s data. If the Quest is more popular than Rift S, why do just 1/10th the number of SteamVR users have it?
The answer is that most Oculus Quest owners just do not own a gaming PC. And that shouldn’t be surprising- it’s the whole point of Quest, and why the launch of Quest was such an important milestone for the industry.
In case you’re wondering, yes, using the Quest as a PC headset wirelessly via Virtual Desktop is also seen by SteamVR, so should also be counted in this data.
Understanding This Matters
We frequently receive press kits from VR developers with subject lines mentioning Quest support. Unfortunately, digging into the kit often reveals this support as only via Link- just like any other PC VR game. If a game can’t be brought to Quest for whatever reason that’s fine- but developers should be aware how much of the market this closes off.
On YouTube, many videos are titled “<SteamVR Game> On Oculus Quest!”. To those “in the know” this is obviously referring to Link. But the comments on these videos often shows this is not common knowledge. All of us in the industry need to be more clear on the differences between a native standalone title and streaming from a PC.
Downpour Interactive’s Onward and Ready at Dawn’s Echo Arena are two of the most popular multiplayer VR titles on PC. Both developers have been working tirelessly to bring their game to Quest players, and expect to later this year.
As with all software, this means that other features on the roadmap that PC players might benefit from will get less attention. Some players of these games have expressed frustration at this, pointing out that Quest owners can already access via Link.
That kind of response is why data like this is so important. Launching on Quest would mean a huge boost to the multiplayer pool — a change that should benefit all players of these games.
Oculus Link and Virtual Desktop streaming filled an obvious hole in the capabilities of the Quest. There’s no good reason that a standalone headset shouldn’t also support PC for those who want it. But let’s not fool ourselves- the Quest is, to the vast majority of its users, still a standalone headset. And if a game isn’t natively available for Quest, that means most Quest users simply can’t play it.
That’s not to say developers need to pass Facebook’s notoriously strict approval process. Some are now seeing some level of adoption through SideQuest, the alternative app store which works by automating the process of sideloading.
So let’s celebrate the fact that standalone headsets like Quest can be used on SteamVR- but only as long as we remember this isn’t an option for most of the owners.