There are now more VR gamers on Steam than Linux gamers

Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive next to PC
Oculus Rift, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive next to PC (Image credit: Nick Sutrich/Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • The PC-powered VR hardware user base continues to grow, with big gains in Oculus hardware.
  • The Oculus Quest appears as an Oculus Rift S in the survey and may skew those results.
  • VR gamers make up a 50% larger userbase on Steam than Linux gamers.

2019 continues to prove to be the biggest year in VR's history, and one Twitter user pointed out that VR recently passed a rather interesting set of milestones. Windows has long been the OS of choice for PC gamers on Steam, with MacOS and Linux trailing far behind. While there has been an ebb and flow in the number of users on each of these platforms, VR has continued to grow and now sports double the number of users of Linux and nearly as many as MacOS.

Before we get too far into the numbers though, it's worth noting that the Steam monthly hardware survey is an optional survey that's sent out to a random pool of users, and participation in the survey is anonymous. This optional nature means there's always going to be a percentage of gamers that don't respond or who don't fill out all the fields. The random nature also means that the data generated is not a completely accurate look at the entire pool of active Steam gamers.

Steam Vr Linux Macos Users

Source: @jashan on Twitter (Image credit: Source: @jashan on Twitter)

With that said, statistical trends are fun and there's a definite correlation to the data we see in the January 2020 Steam hardware survey and the fact that the Valve Index, Oculus Rift S, and Oculus Quest have all been backordered for some time. Looking at the January 2020 Steam numbers in more detail, only 0.9% of respondents stated that they utilize Linux as their main OS, while 3.01% of users were on MacOS.

Compared with these more niche OS platforms, VR gamers made up 1.31% of respondents. That's the highest number ever recorded, and a 0.22% bump over December 2019's numbers. The largest jump is seen by the Oculus Rift S, with a 0.11% increase in user base from December 2019, but it's well worth noting that the Oculus Quest shows up as an Oculus Rift S when connected through Oculus Link, which could very well skew these numbers quite a bit.

While the Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest are the same price ($399), the Oculus Quest represents the best value in VR as it can also be played anywhere without the need to tether it to a PC. It's important to note that exact statistics cannot be accurately extracted from an optional, random survey, but they do represent an important growth metric leading up to big 2020 VR releases like Half-Life: Alyx.

Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu

6 Comments
  • Linux gaming has to be a myth
  • But no one plays VR, remember?
  • Barely anyone plays games on MacOS or Linux so just saying it's bigger than those isn't exactly proof of it being an undoubted success. The success of VR has been EXTREMELY slow and still is not proven to be successful in the near term. A handful of titles have succeeded in being truly good as VR games and it's all very niche to say the least. Don't let purchase confirmation bias lead you to early conclusions. VR is still not a gaming platform that has been truly figured out
  • Reminds me of the enthusiasm for Windows Phone. Hopefully VR is here to stay.
  • That's actually a really good comparison. I don't have a lot of faith in VR gaming success in the next few years but I don't think it's a lost cause at the moment. Still far too few games that have figured out how to leverage the unique capabilities and the headsets are still far from casual.
  • 🤣 who cares? This isn't exactly a major achievement because macOS and Linux gaming isn't big enough combined to be a sustainable gaming platform