Facebook’s Oculus Rift S and Valve’s Index usage grew on Steam in December. But a strange anomaly on the Hardware Survey may be hiding the true scale of this growth.
Both the original Oculus Rift and original HTC Vive plummeted -0.07% each, with no other headsets making up for this loss. This seems bizarre – but there could be a simple explanation. The number of Chinese users on the Hardware Survey has increased by more than any other month this year. The exact cause of this is unclear, but it could be that Steam China launched last month. We simply don’t know at this point.
The Chinese VR market is essentially separate to the rest of the world, with Oculus products and services not even available due to the CCP’s policies on foreign products. Valve’s Index is not available either.
This means that the total number of Steam users with a VR headset can no longer be properly compared to previous figures.
But if an influx of Chinese users caused the relative VR usage figures to drop, then why did Rift S and Index, neither available in China, see small growth? The most likely explanation would seem to be that the sales of each headset in the west over the holiday period exceeded the relative reduction in usage when including China.
This theory is supported by the fact that Rift S went out of stock on retailers in early December, and the Valve Index sold out so much that it is now backordered to February.
The Oculus Quest when used with an Oculus Link compatible cable may also be showing up as a Rift S, though we don’t know this for sure. Quest is also backordered to February. However, given that the Hardware Survey would only report this when the Quest is plugged into the PC and in Link mode, it seems unlikely that this would be a significant contribution.
A first look at the December Steam Hardware Survey would seem depressing for PC VR, but a closer look shows it’s likely hiding another large growth holiday period – other than for HTC, with the Cosmos remaining at 0.00% since launch.