Vive could be outselling the Rift by as much as 2-to-1

Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive

With a little extrapolation and a little guesswork some reports are stating the Vive headset is the current frontrunner in the slow-going VR race.

Virtual reality gaming is likely to be the closest we ever get to going out into the inky black, so here are our favourite space games to make your VR hardware worthwhile.

Virtual reality apologists Road to VR are suggesting the HTC Vive is closing in on a user install base of some 100,000 units, while its estimates place the Oculus Rift at a figure around half that.

This does have to be taken with a larger than the recommended daily dose of sodium because Road to VR have extrapolated its figures from a combination of the latest Steam Hardware Survey, reports from SteamSpy, and licking their index finger and raising it to the wind.

While Vive owners are pretty much guaranteed to be card-carrying Steam owners, Rift users may well be getting all their VR action from the Oculus Home store. And not everyone is going to be submitting results when their Steam account asks to do a little light data mining.

Taking the Hardware Survey results in isolation, however, still makes for interesting reading, with the April figures showing a weighty 84.8% bias of VR users towards the Oculus ecosystem.

We spoke before about the shift towards Vive hardware highlighted by the May survey and now the June figures continue to show a sharp swing in the percentage of Vive headsets on the system, with the bias now standing at 66% Vive and 34% running either a release Rift or DK2 unit.

SteamSpy’s data is being used separately to track the number of Vive-specific games that are owned by Steam users. Job Simulator was the only one to count as a release title, allowing us to extrapolate the number of release devices out there, while Tiltbrush works as decent barometer for the total install base. Tiltbrush has been available for both the initial Vive dev kit and the Vive Pre as well as the final release hardware.

Taking those numbers gives us a final release Vive install base of some 78,000 with potentially another 24,000 Vive DK1 and Pre units.

Steam Hardware Survey June

Even if we can’t take these numbers at face-value, with the actual totals for both the Rift and Vive likely higher than these rough estimates, they do highlight just how over-excited a lot of industry researchers may have gotten about the potential of virtual reality.

Back in April research firm IDC published a report touting the skyrocketing of VR hardware sales this year.

“In 2016, the first major VR Tethered HMDs from Oculus, HTC, and Sony should drive combined shipments of over 2 million units,” said Tom Mainelli, vice president for Devices & Displays at IDC.

“While there have been some launch window hardware shipment hiccups that must be addressed near-term,” IDC’s research director of gaming, Lewis Ward, said, “I’m confident that they will be ironed out before the holiday season. The addition of exciting new titles will lead to a new wave of VR HMD hardware interest among those buying for themselves or family members and friends.”

We want to have those kinds of friends…

But still, sales really are going to have to skyrocket if volume is to meet that over-enthused expectation. Making up the additional 1.85m units is going to be quite a task, and puts a lot of pressure on poor ol’ Sony.

Though if VR is to take off in the mainstream then we all need PlayStation VR to succeed.