Valve updated its monthly Steam hardware and software survey this week to address issues resulting in anomalous VR population data. The corrected numbers make the survey one of the most useful public data on the trend of consumer PC VR usage.
If you’ve been following closely, you may have noticed that we didn’t report VR data in Valve’s Steam Hardware and Software Survey data over several months. Although a largely reliable indicator over the years, starting in May 2022 the data started to swing wildly in ways that didn’t seem to match real-world trends.
After hearing nothing from Valve for several months on the matter, this week the company finally told us that it has now resolved “a few issues” with data collection and reporting, and “expects to have more accurate results in the future”.
The company also provided us with corrected data for the months in question (May, June, July and August); although we did not get the full set of corrected data (since the survey only shows data for the current month), we did get the most important data point for each month (the percentage of all Steam users with headsets connected), allowing us to update our estimate of VR headsets used on Steam.
VR headsets connected monthly on Steam
Every month, Valve collects information from Steam users to determine basic statistics on the type of hardware and software used by the population of the platform, and to see how things are changing over time, including the use of VR headsets.
The data shared in the survey represents the number of headsets connected to Steam in a given month, so we refer to the resulting figure as “headsets connected monthly” for clarity; this is the closest official number of “Monthly Active VR Users” on Steam, with the caveat that it only tells us the number of VR headsets relatednot how many were actually used.
While Valve’s data is a useful way to see which headsets are most popular on Steam, the trend of headsets connected monthly is obscured as the data is provided exclusively in the form of percentages relative to Steam population– which is itself an unexpressed and constantly fluctuating number.
To demystify the data On the way to virtual reality maintains a model, based on historical survey data as well as official data points directly from Valve and Steam, which aims to correct for Steam population trends and estimate the real number-not the percent—headsets used on Steam.
Updated data shows that on average, VR saw slight growth over the summer with around 3 million VR headsets logged in per month on Steam in August.
While normally we would have a more detailed breakdown of specific changes in the share of individual headsets and headset vendors on Steam, we have not (and do not expect to) receive this corrected data at this stage, so we will have to wait until next month for new numbers.