Valve’s SteamVR platform saw a total of 1.7 million new users in 2020, the company today announced.
SteamVR is one of two major destinations to play PC VR content, the other being Facebook’s Oculus platform. Launched in 2016, the platform supports almost every major VR headset from Facebook, HTC, Microsoft’s Mixed Reality line and, of course, Valve itself.
In an overview of Steam’s performance in 2020, Valve revealed that VR game sales were up 32% year-over-year, and that’s before you factor in sales of the company’s flagship VR game, Half-Life: Alyx, which released in March. Valve says that that game alone adds an additional 39%, bringing the total to a 71% increase in sales.
There were also over 104 million SteamVR sessions last year, averaging out to 32-minute play sessions, which the company says is a 30% increase in total playtime. VR still represents only a small proportion of the wider Steam platform, though, which saw 120 million monthly users and a 21.4% growth in games sales year-over-year.
What Drove SteamVR Growth In 2020?
There are a handful of factors that likely pushed SteamVR’s growth in 2020. The first is that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced people to stay home more, giving people more time to explore avenues like VR.
But hardware and software will have also played a part. Valve says its own Index sales were “consistently high” across 2020 (inventory was backlogged for much of the year) and, towards the end of the year, we saw the launch of the HP Reverb G2 and Oculus Quest 2, the latter of which can play SteamVR games over a tethered Oculus Link connection or streamed unofficially on Virtual Desktop.
Our own coverage of the company’s monthly Steam Hardware Survey revealed that, by the end of 2020, over 50% of the headsets used with SteamVR were Facebook-made and a further 21.9% are made by HTC Vive, with the Valve Index making up another 15.7%.
Finally, there’s software. March’s launch of Half-Life: Alyx was likely the most significant VR release to date and, last month, the company revealed the top-selling VR titles of the year, which also included newcomers like The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and late-2019 release, Boneworks, alongside mainstays like Arizona Sunshine and Blade & Sorcery.
2021 has more big releases on the calendar, including After The Fall and Low-Fi. As for hardware, there are no confirmed new releases although a July 2020 report did note that Valve’s hardware team is already working on “what’s next“. We’ll be keeping a close eye on how SteamVR performs as the year moves on, then.