Amazingly it has already been three years since the major VR gaming headsets like Sony VR and Oculus Rift hit the shops and for a while everyone within the games sector was talking about VR as the inevitable future. We have not quite witnessed that promised dominance materialise, but equally VR gaming is not something that has gone away.
How are the headsets selling?
One of the simplest ways to determine the hold VR games have established within the industry is to look at the sales figures for the games and the headsets. It has been a mixed story for most of the big VR games headsets – e.g. Oculus Rift, Sony VR, HTC Vive – which is perhaps to be expected as it is still a relatively new development. However, by Q3 of 2018, the worldwide sales of VR headsets reached 1.9 million, while the sales of standalone VR headsets like Oculus Go increased by 428.6 percent – making up 20.6 percent of the overall market for VR headsets. The figures were also encouraging for tethered VR headsets such as PlayStation VR, Vive and Rift, with combined sales topping 1 million for that quarter. Sony led the field then and still does in 2019, as figures released in March this year showed that sales of this particular headset had surpassed 4 million, making it the most popular tethered VR headset on the market. A major reason Sony is doing so well with its headset compared with its rivals is likely that both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift can only be used effectively on PCs with a lot of power. The sales figures for the actual headsets are showing signs of steady growth, if not dominance.
What about VR games sales?
There are lots of different types of VR games available, from casino ones like poker to action adventure RPG ones set in fantasy worlds, like Asgard’s Wrath, but how are they actually selling? It would be fair to say that sales have been slow to pick up, but some developers are now starting to see real success with VR titles. One example is the small independent games studio Beat Games that produced a rhythm action game called Beat Saber, which has similarities to the Guitar Hero title. After just a month and before it had even been given a full release, over 100,000 copies of the game had been sold. It subsequently became one of the biggest selling VR games for the PlayStation 4 of that year. Other VR titles that enjoyed healthy sales in 2018, according to the end-of-year list published by Steam, included multiplayer action game Onward and single player RPG game Skyrim.
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Sales of VR headsets and games are growing but are still comparatively low, which is not surprising as the headsets are still very expensive. However it may be the next generation, like Oculus Quest, which are more affordable and offer better specs that take it fully into the mainstream.