Understanding the VR Gaming Market

Oculus Developer Blog
Posted by Sophiya Shahla, UX Researcher and Caitlin Bigham, Developer Ecosystems Manager
December 9, 2020

We know Oculus developers want insights into the Oculus customer-base, many of whom we know are gamers. What type of gamers gravitate to VR? What games do they like to play? Who are the early adopters and who won’t buy into VR until it’s more mainstream? All of these questions and more were answered by the Oculus Marketing Research team in an extensive ‘Gamer Segmentation’ study.

Segmentation is important because it identifies segments of the population that are most likely to adopt particular products, and provides insights and demographics to inform key business decisions. In VR development, knowing your target customer segment(s) is a critical component in developing an appealing and retentive game, and building an effective marketing and monetization plan.

We shared the ‘Gamer Segmentation’ study with a subset of Quest developers to get their feedback. They told us what information was relevant, interesting, and actionable for their businesses, and asked for a quick and easy way to consume the data. We listened to their feedback and created a series of infographics that outline seven gamer segments and why they matter in VR. Here’s a quick snapshot of the segments, their relevance to VR, and their US population size:

The Oculus Marketing Research team found that the most relevant segments for VR gaming are Dedicated Gamer, Play-to-Win Gamer, and Steady Gamer. The Participant Parent segment is increasingly relevant with the launch of Quest 2. In this blog post, we will provide a summary of each segment alongside its infographic for a fuller picture of the gaming audience. You can also click here to download all of the Gamer Segment Infographics.

Dedicated Gamer

One of the most relevant groups for VR, these players are impulsive, boastful, and competitive. They covet the latest and greatest technology and are likely to purchase new VR products early. They spend 2x more on games and devices than the average gamer. To reach this audience, developers should focus on delivering top-of-the-line VR content with new and unique awards, status structure, and mechanics built in.

Play-to-Win Gamer

These players are determined, focused, and competitive. They have above average knowledge and interest in VR. Play-to-Win Gamers strive to be the best and enjoy competing with or against their friends. This segment is mostly interested in competitive games and sports, and less interested in immersive story-based content. To reach this segment, developers need to create games that give this audience a reason to believe VR is competitive and challenging.

Steady Gamer

These players are eager, enthusiastic, and friendly. Like Play-to-Win Gamers, Steady Gamers have above average knowledge and interest in purchasing VR. They see VR as the next frontier in gaming and are heavily influenced by what their friends buy and play. To attract this segment developers should highlight their growing, vibrant community of current players to potential players since Steady Gamers don't want to be left out.

Participant Parent

Less relevant than the three groups above, these players are social, productive, and celebratory. They play games predominately with their children as a fun way to spend time together. Participant Parents are less familiar with VR, but have sizable purchase interest. While Participant Parents are unlikely to become dedicated VR gamers, they see VR as a new way to connect with their family and friends. To attract this audience, developers should find ways for groups of people to participate in a shared experience, including those outside of the headset.

Story Seeker

These players are patient, imaginative, and amiable. Story Seekers play games to escape and immerse themselves in a different world. They spend less than average on all things gaming, and have an average knowledge of VR but lower purchase intent. While VR sounds like something that would fit with their gaming habits, they are skeptical if the technology is “there” yet. This group is the single largest segment we have identified, and the most gender-balanced. Though not early adopters, they are likely to represent a significant number of VR customers in the next few years. To win this segment, developers should communicate the maturity of modern VR experiences compared to earlier generations and focus on content that supports robust narrative and adventure offerings.

Bench Player

Not ready for VR yet, these players are social, spirited, and transitioning. They are casual gamers and see VR as a way to enhance casual gaming experiences. Bench Players spend less than average on all things gaming, and have minimal interest in VR. They are an unlikely target for VR but, similar to Story Seekers, they could be persuaded as the technology matures and the content becomes more mainstream.

Time Passer

These players are easily distracted, active, and they like little wins. They are the most casual of all gamers and prefer to play games on their phone. They spend very little on all things gaming and are unlikely candidates for VR. To them, a ‘VR system’ feels like an endeavor and they are apprehensive about the time commitment it would require. Since Time Passers see fast paced, casual games as a means for mental stimulation, VR could replace this with experiences and games that enrich their minds, possibly causing them to see casual gaming in a whole new light.

What’s next?

We are excited to see how you use this information to create content and target VR gamer segments. Please leave us feedback on how these are helpful and what other information you’d like to see.

*Sources: Oculus VR Gamer Segmentation Study 2019. n=2,500 gamers age 13-54 in the US. Findings collected via online surveys and 1:1 interviews.