Update 4/19/23: Some reports suggest that Sony's PS5 MAU numbers referenced in this article are different. While those reports reference PS5 MAU at 30% of total PSN MAU, the earnings report from Sony does not mention total PSN MAU anywhere in it.
Look at the latest tech headlines across the internet in any given week, and you'll find a story about how VR is dying and even Meta's Quest 2 headset can't save the medium. It's a nearly decade-old narrative that's never been less accurate than it is today and a recent report from the Wall Street Journal is proof positive of that fact.
According to the report, 6.37 million users actively used the Quest 2 during the month of October 2022, marking the first time we've ever seen exact measurements for Monthly Active Users, or MAU. MAU is a measurement used by electronics manufacturers — especially video game companies — to gauge the long-term success of a particular product.
In this case, it turns out that the Quest 2's MAU percentage is roughly the same — or potentially even higher — than that of the PS5. A Sony earnings report from February 2023 shows that 30% of PS5 gamers use their console each month, amounting to roughly 9 million MAU.
Based on total units — roughly 17 million Quest 2's sold by October 2022 — the Quest 2's MAU percentage is roughly 35%. That shows that the system is not only selling well at retail but that users are consistently returning to the system and playing the best Quest 2 games at an extremely healthy rate.
Lies and agendas
People have always been tribalistic — it's just part of our DNA — but modern society feels more openly polarized and tribalistic because of the instant communication of the internet and the 24/7 news cycle. Because we no longer need to be in tribes to survive, people have replaced physical human tribes with arbitrary tribes of thought.
Few places showcase the silliness of this type of thought than the Console Wars™️ that you'll find running rampant in online forums and social networks like Twitter. But, as I have previously said, VR isn't replacing traditional gaming and doesn't represent the kind of existential threat to flat-screen gaming that whining fans often espouse.
Meta didn't see the same sales success during the holiday 2023 season as it did during the holiday 2022 season — a 90% drop in new sales, according to the same report. However, since this report, Meta went on to sell around 3-4 million more Quest 2's. That still outpaces the latest Xbox hardware sales and has been since 2021.
Meta doesn't regularly disclose MAU in its earnings reports but it's probably safe to say that MAU hasn't changed much given that nothing special happened in October 2022 to achieve a higher MAU than usual. Plus, we've had a flurry of incredible game releases so far in 2023 — like Breachers and Gods of Gravity, plus Population: One going free-to-play — which means gamers are likely still glued to their headsets each week.
So what about all the FUD we've seen in the tech sphere about the demise of VR lately? It's hard to understand all the reasons, but there are likely a few that are worth noting. First, and foremost, is the fact that Meta is the company seeing the most success from VR while companies like Sony are having slower adoption with the PSVR 2.
A not-insignificant number of people hate Meta and Facebook for very legitimate reasons and want to see any and all of the company's endeavors fail, even if it means negative effects for the individual in question.
I've even seen VR developers say they'd rather see VR fail than Meta succeed. The hate runs deep.
But, despite reports to the contrary, VR is doing just fine as an industry. While I might be feeling like Sony is self-sabotaging the PSVR 2 at times, the reality is that it's currently outselling the original PSVR by a ratio of about 2-to-1. That's a success by any metric, especially when you consider the fact that Sony makes a profit on every PSVR 2 sold — the opposite approach Meta has taken with the Quest 2.
The unfortunate reality is that a number of people and organizations who are vehemently anti-VR are driven by an agenda to see it fail. Whether it's for logical or tribalistic reasons is anyone's best guess but there's no denying the obvious slant against something that, almost assuredly, has zero impact on the lives of folks who don't use it.
Thankfully, for the rest of us that are enjoying the heck out of amazing VR experiences and games, their vitriol and negativity don't seem to be actually negatively affecting the industry.
It's certainly going to make the upcoming launch of the Quest 3 even more interesting, especially given that we know Meta is currently involved in around 200 new VR gaming projects for the Quest ecosystem as a whole.
Haters gonna hate. Best to just ignore them and keep enjoying what you love.
There's nothing quite like playing games with friends, especially when it feels like you're in the same room with them. The Quest 2 brings friends and family closer, even when they can't be physically together.
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