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Although Steam is widely seen as the HTC Vive’s content platform, the Vive has a rival brother under Steam’s roof in the form of the Oculus Rift. According to a user survey conducted by Steam, the Rift’s market share of VR headsets is closing the gap with the Vive.
The monthly survey is used by Steam to monitor market trends in VR, the uptake of new technologies and the relative popularity of competing VR products, both hardware and software. The latest results show Vive at 50.2% and the Rift yapping at their heels with 46.9%.
Although the statistic shows a 3.1% gain in market share by the Rift, this is mainly due to a 2.1% drop in the Vive’s market share combined with a drop in sales of the Rift DK2 (development kit). As a development kit, rather than a commercial product, the DK2 holds a miniscule 3% of the market. But when factored into to statistics, it shows the Rift and Vive to be running virtually neck and neck in an increasingly tightly fought race.
However, the survey could actually be concealing a possible lead by the Rift. Firstly, participation is voluntary, so there is an element of self-selection. Secondly, while Steam is the unofficial content platform for the Vive, Oculus Rift users merely see it as a supplementary content supplier alongside the Rift’s own Oculus Home Platform. Thus, while many Rift owners use Steam, quite a large number don’t. This would inevitably tend to skew the results in favor of the Vive
On the other hand, the Vive also has its own Viveport Appstore. That together with the Viveport subscription service, could be reducing the presence of Vive users on the Steam site, thus skewing the results the other way.
We do know, from other sources, that the in the second quarter of of 2017, sales of the Vive plunged from 191,000 to 95,000. For the Rift, this trend manifested itself in reverse. Rift sales in that period rose from 99,000 in Q1 to 247,000. This may be due to the price difference, combined with the price war that broke out in summer (see our August 22, newsfeed: Price Wars Hit VR As HTC Slashes Price). This does not mean that the Rift now has a larger installed base of uses – only that it is getting there.