Meta Quest 2’s Steam Survey popularity spells the end for PCVR-only headsets

A player smashing through objects with bats in a VR environment
(Image credit: Meta)

Valve’s January 2022 Steam Survey results have been released, and they reveal that the Meta Quest 2’s rise in popularity is showing no signs of slowing down soon.

Through its monthly survey, Valve collects and releases anonymized data about what hardware and software participants are currently using when playing games through Steam. Alongside a steady rise in the number of gamers opting for Windows 11, in January more people than ever turned toward using the Quest 2 when playing PCVR titles.

The total number of Steam users with a VR headset now sits at 2.14% (which Road to VR estimates is equal to 3.4 million people) - with 46% of these players opting for the Quest 2 over any other option. This is a 6.4% increase over its share of users just a month ago in December 2021’s charts.

Thanks to the Quest 2’s dominance and the lingering popularity of its predecessor (the Oculus Quest) as well as the PCVR-dedicated Oculus Rift and Oculus Rift S, Meta hardware makes up just over two-thirds of all VR headsets used on Steam. In second place is HTC, followed by Valve in third.

On top of that, the combined popularity of standalone headsets on Steam is now over 50%. That means more people are playing Steam PCVR games with these devices than those that are designed to work with PCs exclusively. 

Analysis: Where Meta leads, others will follow

It’s all well and good that the Meta Quest 2 is a popular piece of kit, but what does that actually mean for us players?

Well, by now it’s clear that Meta struck gold with its second go at a standalone headset. We expect its rivals will release similar style headsets in an attempt to claim the VR crown for themselves.

While the Quest 2’s success is likely due to a blend of several factors, we expect the most significant is its cost.

The standalone device is not only one of the cheaper VR headsets out there on its own - priced at just £299 / $299 / AU$479 - but it also doesn’t require a PC. 

Its similarly priced sibling the Oculus Rift S, and more expensive options like the incredible Valve Index ($999 / £919, about AU$1,425) require users own a VR-capable PC. One of these rigs will set you back at least another $600 / £500 / AU$700 if not a lot more if want to get the most out of your headset.

When faced with the choice between the Quest 2 or a setup that costs at least twice as much, it’s easy to see why people time and again opt for the cheaper headset.

Price isn’t everything, though, cheaper headsets than the Quest 2 have come and gone in the past with little to no fanfare. The Quest 2 has seen continued success because it also delivers a solid performance coupled with an amazing library of exclusive titles that are easily some of the best VR games out there.

The HTC Vive Flow seems to be taking strides in this direction with an innovative PC-free design - though we weren’t too impressed when we had the chance to try it out - and rumors suggest the Valve Index 2 is going to be a powerful standalone device.

Even Apple’s rumored mixed reality headset is expected to be following this trend.

We’ll have to wait and see if these devices can push Meta’s Quest 2 from the top spot when they launch, but regardless of who takes home the crown, it looks more and more likely that the days of PC-dedicated VR headsets are over.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.