VR headset owners only use their devices six hours a month on average: study

  • TECH
  • Thursday, 16 May 2019

An attendee wears a Sony Corp. Playstation virtual reality (VR) headset during the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, March 21, 2018. The GDC is the world's largest professional game industry event that brings together game designers, programmers, artists, producers, and business professionals in the global game development community. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

LOS ANGELES: The typical virtual reality (VR) headset owner spends only about six hours a month using their device, according to a new IDC report. 

One of the top use cases for VR continues to be gaming, with 72% of respondents polled by IDC saying they played a VR game in the past three months. 

IDC’s new VR report was based on five localised surveys conducted in the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, France, and Germany in the holiday quarter. The market research company queried a total of 1,643 users of that high-end VR headsets, including PC-based headsets like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive as well as PlayStation VR. 

The results are a bit of a mixed bag for the VR industry. Respondents were overall happy with their VR hardware, reporting an average user satisfaction rate of 7.5 on a 1 to 10 scale – that’s about the same grade users have given smart watches, according to IDC. 

However, actual usage still seems to lag. On average, headset owners use their devices just 6.2 hours a month. What’s more, the top 12% of most active users reported 16 or more hours of monthly usage, but 65% reported fewer that five hours of monthly usage. 

There seems to be some variation with regards to the usage of different headsets: PC-based headsets are used about 5.4 hours a month, whereas PlayStation VR is being used 6.8 hours per month on average, according to IDC. 

It’s worth noting that the report was sponsored by Sony, but a general preference for PlayStation VR isn’t totally unexpected, and mirrors buying behaviour. Sony has said that it has sold more than 4.2 million PlayStation VR headsets. Oculus and HTC have yet to release sales figures, but these numbers are widely expected to be significantly lower. 

The report highlighted some regional differences, with users in Japan being especially interested in gaming (73.4% of users played a game in the last three months), whereas users in Germany watched more video than those in any other market (60% of users watched videos on photos on their headset). 

And there is some good news in the report for the entire VR industry, especially as it moves towards all-in-one devices like the Oculus Quest: Consumers who have yet to buy a VR headset are citing price and ease of use as their top purchase factors. 

Visual quality and technical specs on the other hand only ranked fifth, with ergonomics and a chance to test the headset before buying it also being more important to potential purchasers. – Variety/Reuters

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