Worldwide shipments of dedicated VR headsets reached 2.1 million units for the first quarter of 2017, according to figure released by the International Data Corporation (IDC). Of these, 0.77m were tethered headsets (PSVR, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift). Surprisingly, it’s Sony’s PlayStation VR that’s built up the biggest head of steam, shifting an impressive 429,000 units in the quarter and making it the best-selling tethered headset of the quarter.
HTC and Valve’s Vive SteamVR headset hasn’t done too shabbily either, racking 190,000 sales, while Facebook brings up the rear with the Oculus Rift at 99,300. The PlayStation VR is now outselling the Oculus Rift more than 4:1, likely spurred on by the release of Resident Evil 7 in January. It’s funny what a high profile AAA release can do for sales figures. This sales momentum for PSVR is set to continue as well, with both Farpoint and, in particular, Star Trek: Bridge Crew being well received.
Naturally it’s the mobile-oriented VR headsets which are the dominant force at this stage though. Their affordability and compatibility with most popular smartphones mean two-thirds of VR headsets sold were mobile headsets. The bestselling individual VR product is Samsung’s $100 Gear VR, which shifted 489,500 units, while the figures from TCL’s Alcatel VR and Google’s Daydream are undisclosed.
Despite sales being notably low compared to the pre-launch hype for VR, the IDC still anticipates 100 million VR headsets will be sold by 2021, with total sales this year topping 20 million units.
The VR market finds itself in an odd place right now. The Oculus Rift launched with all the panache of a wet fart and went from becoming the face of virtual reality to the also-ran tainted with far-right meme shitposting. After the initial sales bump, things are beginning to settle down though, and we’re beginning to get a feel for the dominant VR headsets and how well the VR sector can grow ‘post-hype’.
The HTC Vive has gradually won over the hearts and minds of PC gamers thanks to propagating room-scale VR, while Sony continues decent if unremarkable first-party support for PSVR. Next week during E3 we’ll really get a sense for how serious Sony is about PlayStation VR. If it doesn’t have a decently sized segment of PSVR then it would be safe to assume it’s been sidelined, so it would be good to see at least one first-party exclusive announced for the headset. As for the Oculus Rift, it’s difficult to see where this is headed next. Its closed Oculus Store has put plenty off, despite Oculus finally catching up on the room-scale aspect, and it’s now going to come down to whether Facebook can money hat enough worthwhile exclusives to make it a better buy than the HTC Vive.