Super Data Report: 6.3 Million Virtual Reality Headsets Shipped in 2016

by Joe Durbin • February 1st, 2017

A new report from Super Data offers new estimates for the market size of virtual reality in 2016, suggesting 6.3 million VR headsets were shipped in the whole of 2016.

Last year saw the launch of several high-end VR headsets complemented by new mobile offerings. The report, titled “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: 2016 Mobile and VR Games Year in Review,” is a compilation of information Super Data and Unity Technologies, though we clarified with Unity that they did not contribute to the estimates for VR headset data in the report.

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The report estimates 4.5 million Gear VRs were sold through last year. Clocking in at number two on the list is the PlayStation VR with sales “approaching a million” by the end of 2016. This leaves Oculus, Google and HTC to split about a million units. According to this report, HTC’s Vive edged out Facebook’s Rift selling “more than 400K at its $800 price point.”

The report also notes “Oculus has shown a strong interest in gaming and social applications so consumer penetration will be more important to the Rift. Meanwhile, HTC Vive is becoming the device of choice for enterprise developers…”

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We won’t know official numbers until manufacturers themselves start releasing more solid information. Samsung is the only company to have released actual numbers, saying 5 million Gear VR headsets have been sold so far. Last November, before the figure was released by Samsung, Super Data estimated the company would sell far fewer headsets in 2016. This gap between Samsung’s and Super Data’s numbers highlights how different the figures in this report could be from the actual sales numbers. Here’s how Super Data says it arrives at its numbers:

“Every month we collect spending data on millions of unique online gamers directly from publishers and developers, totaling 50+ publishers and 450+ game titles. We combine the digital point-of-sale data with quality consumer insights to speak to the ‘why’ of the market. We clean, aggregate and analyze these data to establish market benchmarks and models for all segments of digital games and interactive media. Our research covers everything from worldwide genre benchmarks to title-level KPIs, country-level deep dives and brand equity. The mobile and VR studies were based on the following: 49 million unique transactions from 15 million unique gamers between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016, a survey of 1,000 U.S. mobile gamers from July 2016, data collected from partners in the VR Data Network.”

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  • Chris Orris

    Interesting that Samsung claimed shipping 5m headsets, but this report says it falls short. I’m biased against Samsung, though.

    • NooYawker

      They can be sketchy about their numbers, but let’s just say they shipped a lot. It was the only choice for most people, up until recently.

    • aohige

      Yeah, but that’s still only 10% difference in numbers claimed. In the overall scheme of numbers, it’s rather trivial.

    • The article is about shipped in 2016, Gear VR is on the market since 2014/2015.

  • C Stargazer

    Vive was the logical choice, it had motion controllers while Oculus Touch was stuck in regulation hell(despite the fact thousands of devs and some youtubers had access to them well in advance of retail)

    • Get Schwifty!

      I figured it was about a 2:1 ratio in favor of Vive…. if those numbers are correct it’s just under.

      • AtmosContagion

        Based on some comments from devs on various media platforms and some early rough estimates worked out by the VR community; I would have to say the numbers from super data don’t seem like they would be too far off.

        There have been several devs that have apps out on both steam and Oculus home that have reported that their personal data shows the rift and vive userbases to pretty close and that most Oculus users seem to prefer just using home over steam. This was from a couple months back though (end of November?), so things could have changed.

        I just think it’s great that PC VR is somewhere close to a million, which is close to PSVR, for a combined total of just shy of 2 million high end units.

        PSVR seems like it would be the real wildcard here with far less bits of information on sales out there to be pieced together than with Oculus and Vive, so the actual number of PSVR units could be a bit more than estimated here.

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      and WAY BETTER tracking…

    • JSM21

      No the Vive came out 1st since they was trying to be the 1st in VR which is why they have higher numbers and unfinished games. The Oculus perfected their touch controllers and came out w/ games w/ more content and finished. If Oculus would have not cared so much and “threw something out there” they would have probably been the 1st VR system out since they started working on theirs 1st.

      • Smanny

        You do know that the Gear VR is considered Oculus as well, especially since every Gear VR headset has Facebooks “Oculus” plastered on the side of every Gear VR headset. Not to mention the software on Samsung’s phones was from both Samsung and the Oculus team as well.

        Mobile VR will always be higher in nukbers, especially when they are getting faster and faster all the time. Not to mention the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are too expensive in comparison to mobile VR. Nevermind portability and ease of setup goes to mobile.

        • JSM21

          DUH…../facepalm I wasn’t even talking about the Gear VR if you read what I said at all. We was talking about Vive and Oculus…….

  • David Melton

    Yes but how many Google Cardboards were shipped? That’s the real important question.

    • NooYawker

      A google

    • MasterElwood

      GC is not real VR – its a toy. so nobody cares.

      • Smanny

        I wouldn’t say that, especially when there is tons of Cardboad apps and VR content for those Cardboard users. Plus there is some Cardboard headsets, that come with Bluetooth controllers for as little as $22.

    • Smanny

      On Amazon alone there is hundreds of different Cardboard types. There are some now that offer lens adjustments with Bluetooth controllers for only $22. It’s impossible to track all the various types of VR headsets.

    • In 2016, don’t know. From the beginning something like 15-20M if I remember correctly

  • Buddydudeguy

    This included mobile garbage.

    • Smanny

      You call mobile garbage. Yet a high end mobile device usually has a higher resolution display than a Vive or Rift (2160×1200) vs QHD smartphones (2560×1440). However at the end of the day mobile is driving the VR market, period. Millions of consumers have already said with their wallets that, they don’t want an expensive Vive or Rift. Plus most don’t want the long setups or configurations that go with those 2 PC VR platforms. Not to mention being locked down to a specific location or room.

      Also a number of the Gear VR headsets came free with the phones. A number of other smartphones now include free VR headsets. So I am sure those are counted as well. Not to mention how many Cardboard headset versions were sold as well, especially since there is literally no way to track all the hundreds of different Cardboard types. Also a number of them now come with Bluetooth controllers, and durable materials for a fraction of the other VR headsets. As a matter of fact I saw one on Amazon with a Bluetooth controller for $22, and it even had lens adjustments. Plus when I see what Daydream VR is capable of doing, and how smooth it is. Then there is no way that you could call that garbage. Not to mention the Daydream View headsets only arrived in December. Plus Daydream was the first mobile VR platform to introduce some kind of spacial awareness through its 9-axis touch controller. Mobile is here to stay, whether you like it or not. Plus it is going to define and lead the market for VR, period.

      • Buddydudeguy

        ” Yet a high end mobile device usually has a higher resolution display than a Vive or Rift ”

        As if resolution of the screen panel is all there is to it. Do you HONESTLY think the GPU in a smart phone is anywhere vaguely close to a gtx 1060? 1070? A 1080?

      • NooYawker

        All VR even mobile VR is good for the industry, and you are correct that not everyone wants a whole setup. But … no, the Galaxy does not have better resolution that the Vive or Rift. Many smartphone owners seem depend too much of stat sheets.
        But mobile VR is a great way for anyone with a smartphone to get a glimpse of the VR world.

  • Frogacuda

    250,000 Rift users is a pretty rough go, but I tend to think it’s closer to 350,000. It’s hard to say without knowing which publishers they’re polling.

  • Schorsch

    Remember that Touch came out IN DECEMBER, basically at the end of 2016. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sales numbers for these two (Rift/Vive) are now reversed. Touch is arguably better (sorry Vive guys) than the wands. 99% of 2016 had an incentive for people to get Vive over Rift because of lack of motion controllers…
    Anyway…what we do now do against all this mobile wannabe VR peasants? Let’s join sides and fight them!! (Ok joking, I know it’s the darn mobile market currently driving this entire industry).

    • elev8d

      Touch isn’t better than the Vive wands. It’s tracking volume is much smaller and is currently plagued with issues for roomscale users.

      • NooYawker

        But the design is much more elegant but it’s small size comes at a price in terms of tracking.

        • elev8d

          The size isn’t the reason for the tracking issues. Using CV for tracking is the issue. The knuckles Vive controllers are the same size as Oculus Touch, but track as well as the regular Vive wants (according to reports).

          • NooYawker

            Then I definitely want oculus type controllers for the Vive. I’m in deep what’s a couple of hundred more for new controllers.

  • As always, mobile VR is the king (more user friendly, cheaper). For real VR to become widespread, we’ll need time

  • NooYawker

    What does the Gear VR actually do? My kid has a Galaxy and he bought this View Master thing and he can view and play VR stuff with it and it’s a crappy piece of plastic that basically centers the phone and gives you a button to press. Aside from better materials and comfort, what does the Gear VR headset do that some simple crappy piece of plastic doesn’t?

    • Stoki

      It’s got the same sensors(1000Hz) for smooth head tracking as Rift, and it’s not even comparable to Cardboard, also better content than Cardboard and It’s just easy to setup, just click your phone in to place, and boom, you’re in. You can even play with controller witch some games on Oculus Store require.

  • Чубака Иванович

    5 million Gear VR sales “to date”, not in 2016

  • The report estimates 4.5 million Gear VRs were sold through last year. Clocking in at number two on the list is the PlayStation VR with sales “approaching a million” by the end of 2016. This leaves Oculus, Google and HTC to split about a million units. According to this report, HTC’s Vive edged out Facebook’s Rift selling “more than 400K at its $800 price point.”