The VR games market is experiencing a resurgence due to more affordable hardware and software, more high-quality content, and ties with the metaverse.
Here’s what you need to know about it.
This overview of the VR games market includes VR history, VR adoption, VR gamers, VR game revenues, VR game trends, top headsets, and more!
Data source: Newzoo
(The research is comprised of data for 6DoF VR headsets, as they’re essential for an immersive virtual reality experience and excludes headsets that use only 3DoF tracking. 6DoF stands for Six Degrees of Freedom and it measures six types of directional rotation – rolling, pitching, yawing, elevating, strafing, and surging.)
Short History of the VR Games Market
Before we get into the current state of the VR games market and its future, let’s take a step back and explore its recent history.
VR technology is nothing new – VR headsets and games have existed for quite some time. However, they never reached mass adoption.
Here’s a simplified explanation.
VR technology was in its early stages and the hardware was very expensive. That barrier, of course, resulted in a tiny audience. As a consequence, game developers didn’t want to invest in creating VR games as there weren’t enough people who would be able to play them. Lack of games made people even less interested in purchasing an expensive headset.
These are the main reasons why the VR games market was stuck for years.
However, that started to change a couple of years ago.
During the pandemic, people were craving new experiences they could access from their homes. Meta made virtual reality more accessible to a wider audience by producing Quest 2, an affordable headset. Exciting games were being produced.
All that led to the record number of players.
On top of that, the hype about the metaverse in 2021 further accelerated the growth of the VR games market. More and more major companies started working on headsets and developers are producing new VR games.
However, the VR games market is still young and has a lot of room for growth. We expect major technological advancements in the following years, as well as more affordable hardware that will bring VR gaming to the masses.
To learn about the current state of the VR games market and how it’ll evolve in the future, keep on reading.
The graph above represents the number of active installs for 6DoF VR headsets. The install base is predicted to grow at a 42% CAGR between 2019 and 2024.
Back in 2019, there were only 8 million active installs, which demonstrates the early struggles of the VR games market. However, in 2021, there were more than 20 million – more than double compared to 2019. This is when the VR games market experienced a resurgence.
By the end of 2022, that number is expected to grow to almost 30 million and be as high as 46 million by 2024.
VR Headset Use Cases
What’s great about VR headsets is that people can use them for many different things, not just gaming.
However, playing games is ranked the number one use case by 72% of headset owners. This comes as no surprise as most people buy a VR headset to be able to play VR games. Furthermore, we can characterize this group of people as VR gamers.
Watching videos/films and attending virtual events are also among the top three use cases among headset owners.
When it comes to use frequency, 39% of VR gamers use their headset several times a week, while 20% of them use it once a week.
Additionally, VR gamers use headsets more often than VR headset owners.
VR Games Revenue
As the use of VR headsets increases, so do the revenues of VR games.
In 2019, VR games didn’t earn much in revenue, ‘only’ $0.5 billion, which is not nearly as much as other types of games like mobile games or traditional PC games. However, by the end of 2022, that number is expected to rise to $1.8 billion.
In the following years, VR games revenue is set to grow even more – to $2.5 billion in 2023 and $3.2 billion in 2024.
If we consider that the VR games market is still young and not nearly as saturated as other game markets, but that it’s going to become more and more lucrative, now is the timefor game developers to capitalize on this opportunity.
VR Headset Owner Demographics
You’re probably wondering who owns VR headsets.
Here’s more info about the demographic of VR headset owners (including VR gamers and people who use the headsets for other types of entertainment) and how these groups differ from non-owners.
VR headset owner demographic skews male – as much as 63% of VR headset owners are men, while only 37% are women. Among non-owners, on the other hand, that split is pretty much even.
However, even though more men are into VR as of now, we expect more women to join in on the fun once VR gaming and similar experiences become more mainstream.
When it comes to the age of VR headset owners, the majority of them (43%) are between the ages of 21 and 35. In other words, it’s a primarily Gen Z/Millennial audience.
Furthermore, 32% of them are between the ages of 36 and 50 and 25% are a younger Gen Z audience – between 14 and 20.
The fact that the majority of VR headset owners are older than 20 comes as no surprise. VR headsets and games are quite pricey and not something many teens or maybe even their parents can easily afford.
This brings us to our next dataset.
As you might expect, VR headset owners earn more compared to non-owners. Once again, that’s due to headsets and VR games being expensive.
More specifically, as much as 43% of VR headset owners have a high income, while 35% of them fall into the mid-income category.
What are their hobbies and interests? Let’s find out in the following section.
The majority of VR headset owners, as much as 73% of them to be exact, play video games in their spare time. This is also something that’s expected.
63% enjoy watching gaming-related video content and esports, while 59% watch sports in their spare time.
Top VR Game Genres
The graph above represents the top genres among the top 100 VR games by average monthly active users.
The three most popular genres among both VR-only games (can only be played through VR) and VR-integrated games (games that can be played on other devices as well) are adventure, shooter, and simulation.
These genres are also popular among traditional games. That tells us VR gaming is following similar trends.
When it comes to subgenres, survival horror, first-person shooter, and vehicle simulation are among the top ones.
Top VR Game Themes
VR game themes vary when we compare VR-only games and VR-integrated games. VR-only games tend to have more magical themes, while a lot of VR-integrated games have sports and athletics themes.
However, if we consider both, the top VR game themes include modern-day, advanced human society, alien galaxy, sports, high magical fantasy, monster horror, and others.
Top VR Game Modes
When it comes to VR game modes, the top three most popular ones among top VR games are story mode/campaign, sandbox, and death match.
In story mode, players are following a story and a predetermined path, like in Half-Life: Alyx, for example.
In sandbox mode, on the other hand, players can do pretty much what they want and many enjoy this freedom. Rec Room is an example of a VR sandbox game.
Death match mode is all about defeating opponents like in Pavlov VR, for example.
Top VR Headsets
We’ll end our VR games market overview with a list of top VR headsets.
The four market leaders so far are:
- Valve Index (released in 2019)
- PlayStation VR2 (will be released in February 2023)
- Meta Quest 2 (released in 2020)
- Meta Quest Pro (released in 2022)
Top Chinese Headsets
- Pico 4 (released in Europe and Asia)
- Pimax Crystal QLED (soon to be released)
- Skyworth Pancake 1C (presale)
VR Games Market: A Summary
The VR games market is waking up from its slumber as there’s renewed excitement around virtual reality and the possibility of a metaverse. We’ll keep you posted on how the market evolves.