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1 million new users of VR were recorded in April, biggest increase ever thanks to HL: Alyx
By Chad Norton on May 4th, 2020 at 11:00am - original article from game-debate

It’s the beginning of a new month, and that means that Steam’s hardware and software survey has been updated with some very interesting numbers regarding virtual reality. Back at the end of March there was a little game that came out called ¬¬g_id:36729[Half-Life: Alyx]¬¬, Valve’s reintroduction into the Half-Life world after 13 years, which was designed exclusively for VR.

It’s no secret that the exclusivity move was to increase sales in virtual reality headsets, and to get a larger market for VR games whilst also setting a new standard for AAA virtual reality games. But how much did it actually impact the industry? How many users actually bought and played with a new VR headset? According to Steam’s hardware survey, nearly 1 million new users had been introduced to the virtual cyberscape.

To be clear, that data is judged by the amount of virtual reality headsets that were connected to a Steam account while they were online, so whilst it might not represent whether users actually used the headset to play the new Half-Life: Alyx, a large portion surely must have been for that reason. It's also the closest number we can get right now to an active monthly VR users research. Plus, the data doesn’t discriminate against which VR headset was used, just as long as a virtual reality head-mounted display was connected to a PC via SteamVR.

To put it into perspective, more people, almost 3 times as much, either purchased or played with a VR headset in the month of April than after the holiday season of January/December. That’s a pretty big jump for a piece of notoriously expensive hardware.

What’s more is that there are now twice as many VR users on Steam than there are Linux users, and just under half as many MacOS users. So it’s clear that virtual reality is still on the rise and won’t be going away anytime soon, and with much more affordable options out there like the Oculus Quest, the hardware is becoming more and more accessible for audiences.

The Steam Hardware and Software survey is used to monitor certain data regarding hardware and software used in a Steam user's system, everything from the most common amount of system RAM used, or the percentage of all Steam users who use 4 core CPUs, or even which graphics card is the most popular of any given month.

What do you think of the data? Is VR getting more appealing? Do you think you’ll get a VR headset at some point? How affordable will it need to be for you? Let us know!