This week is the 1-year anniversary of the HTC Vive shipping to buyers. The hardware HTC and Valve shipped should be acknowledged for enabling big VR rooms, solid tracking, and giving developers the tools they needed to dive deeper into a new medium. Likewise, HTC is trying to make it easy to jump into VR for consumers with payment plans for the headset itself as well as a subscription plan for its Viveport store. These efforts could dramatically lower the barrier to entry for buyers while giving developers a new source of income and exposing buyers to new types of content when they might not be willing to shell out the cash to buy a title outright on Steam.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Viveport runs alongside Valve’s Steam offering as a second place with which to get content for Vive. While Steam is a great place to buy games, HTC leadership is honing Viveport to focus on different types of content. According to Rikard Steiber, president of Viveport and senior vice president of VR at HTC, Viveport is seeing 100,000 unique active users each week use the service, offering us our first window into the size of its user base.
“The month number is obviously much larger,” Steiber said.
While HTC is also rolling out Viveport M for some mobile users in China, we clarified that the figure shared of 100,000 users does not include mobile users.
Viveport on PC, however, has repeatedly been the subject of reports popping up on Reddit with people complaining about the stability of the software. We spoke to HTC leaders this week who acknowledged the complaints and promised updates to the software with improvements. Steiber said users can expect at least monthly updates to the software with more frequent updates likely in the coming weeks.
“We accumulate all the feedback we get through all channels on a weekly basis and we look at where the pain points are,” Steiber said. “It gets complicated…we’ve been at this for six months and we decided not to launch in just one market.”
Steiber said they will be more active in communicating known bugs and release notes through HTC Vive’s community site. He also shared with us that with Viveport in 32 countries, users are roughly breaking down 1/3 each in the United States, Asia, and Europe. He also said that after the first few days of the Viveport subscription plan, La Peri, Fantastic Contraption, Apollo 11, The Blu and Everest have been the most popular choices. This is a great sign for developers building outside traditional games for VR, as each of these titles steps pretty far away from gaming (though Fantastic Contraption is about creatively solving puzzles). These types of non-gaming experiences are frequently criticized for their price, length, or both, as gamers tend to expect hours of gameplay for high-priced titles.
With the prospect of 100,000+ users on Viveport every week, we have our first real glimpse into the size of HTC’s efforts into VR software — and it is a significant figure. Users and units sold shouldn’t be confused, particularly as Viveport is also being rolled out as a solution for arcade owners, but Oculus and HTC have thus far been quiet about the numbers of headsets sold while Sony said it is near (and likely now surpassed) 1 million PSVRs.