Check out our Monthly Survey Page to see what our users are running.

With 2020 done and out the way, Valve have put up a 'Year in Review' post highlighting a bunch of facts about what people were doing on Steam and some of the numbers are pretty surprising.

Going over their past Year in Review posts for 2018 and 2019, it shows that Steam is growing nicely. 2018 saw 90 million monthly active users, 2019 saw 95 million monthly active and 2020 jumped a lot up to 120 million monthly active users. That's a pretty huge jump for one year, likely down to the COVID-19 lockdowns across various countries.

To put that into some perspective for the Linux side of things. If we take the December 2020 Linux user share on Steam as reported by the Steam Hardware Survey (0.78%) that gives us a figure of about 939,120 Linux monthly active users - which we note at the bottom of our Steam Tracker. Quite close to 1 million then!

Is Linux growing then? Well, obviously yes it is overall but not dramatically so - more of a slow and steady build up. If we take the 2018 numbers of 90 million, with the Linux share back in December 2018 of 0.82% it would have been 738,000. So we've added around 201,120 users between Dec 2018 and Dec 2020. None of that is exact of course, we're guesstimating based on the share Valve gives out in their surveys.

Linux and the Steam Play Proton compatibility layer got a mention too which is always good to see:

Throughout 2020, work continued on Steam Play and extending Proton, our runtime for seamlessly running existing Steam games on Linux without additional developer work. We released Proton 5, which supported many new games, improved performance, and introduced support for DX12 and EA Origin games on Steam. For a full list of changes, see our changelog.

We also saw an increase in developers engaging with Valve for early Proton testing during their game development, and fixing Proton-specific issues post-release. All in all, this resulted in exciting new releases this year such as DEATH STRANDINGHorizon: Zero Dawn, and Cyberpunk 2077 being playable on Linux at or shortly after release.

It's still amazing that Valve do actually put all this effort in for Linux with Proton, and all their other contracted developers to work on other parts of Linux from GPU drivers to the new container runtime system. Lots going on for Linux overall when it comes to gaming.

Looking to the future for Linux, Valve stated their clear intention to continue supporting Linux and not just with what's already mentioned. They said they're "putting together new ways for prospective users to get into Linux gaming and experience these improvements" - which sounds pretty exciting. What do you think Valve are cooking up to further Linux gaming? After all, I've long said they must have some real goals with all this work since Steam Machines / SteamOS didn't go far.

Through 2020 the Steam store expanded a bit too through features like the Points Shop, Text and Chat Filtering systems for both the Steam community areas and for developers to use in their games, the News Hub, support for Subscriptions and more.

VR seems to be doing quite well too, with Valve seeing 1.7 million first-time users of SteamVR through 2020. Valve has also been regularly pushing out upgrades to SteamVR and it's steadily become much more stable. On the subject of hardware, they saw a 66.6% increase in gamepad use over 2019 - showing to developers that well tested gamepad support can often be essential.

All in all, a really big year for Valve and Steam. You can see their full post here with lots of details.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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21 comments
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Arehandoro 14 Jan
Quoting: The_Aquabat
Quoting: Purple Library Guy
Quoting: DorritValve's work for Linux can't be praised highly enough.
I have few doubts that soon, this year probably, we'll have a financial/economic crisis of epic proportions; something to make the Great Depression feel like an appetizer. It'll be interesting to see how it affects the software landscape.
Dunno about this year. These things always come slower than you expect.

the future is an imperfect tense right now "would", let's just live the present perfect simple for now.

(I was going to reply with a rather longish post about my opinion on the world economy but this is not the place for that)

Maybe not this article comments section, but we can always open a forum post. It's a delight to read comments very well articulated like the ones from kimyrielle and Purple Library Guy, and I'd also be interested in knowing more about fellow linuxers. As long as it doesn't turn into constant fight and gets disrespectful, of course.
Nanobang 14 Jan
Valve knows the world economy is going to tank and has been positioning themselves as the source for Linux gaming because everyone will be out of work, and no one will be able to afford new Windows or Apple machines.


Last edited by Nanobang on 14 January 2021 at 2:34 pm UTC
Dorrit 14 Jan
Quoting: NanobangValve knows the world economy is going to tank and has been positioning themselves as the source for Linux gaming because everyone will be out of work, and no one will be able to afford new Windows or Apple machines.
That may very well be an accurate prediction.
Eike 14 Jan
Quoting: NanobangValve knows the world economy is going to tank and has been positioning themselves as the source for Linux gaming because everyone will be out of work, and no one will be able to afford new Windows or Apple machines.

... or games.
The_Aquabat 14 Jan
Quoting: NanobangValve knows the world economy is going to tank and has been positioning themselves as the source for Linux gaming because everyone will be out of work, and no one will be able to afford new Windows or Apple machines.
I wish I could give more likes to this comment
tuubi 14 Jan
Quoting: KimyrielleBut many countries in Europe and elsewhere would be happy to have JUST 7% unemployment even WITHOUT a pandemic going on, so there is that.
This comparison is almost meaningless if you ignore relative living standards. An unemployed person in one country might be better off (and contribute more to the economy) than someone working a full time job in another.
ageres 14 Jan
QuoteThey said they're "putting together new ways for prospective users to get into Linux gaming and experience these improvements" - which sounds pretty exciting. What do you think Valve are cooking up to further Linux gaming?
VirtualBox on Steam confirmed. Now you'll be able to get "I use Arch btw" achievement and demonstrate it in your profile. True Linux gaming.
Quoting: tuubi
Quoting: KimyrielleBut many countries in Europe and elsewhere would be happy to have JUST 7% unemployment even WITHOUT a pandemic going on, so there is that.
This comparison is almost meaningless if you ignore relative living standards. An unemployed person in one country might be better off (and contribute more to the economy) than someone working a full time job in another.
It's also very hard to be sure what people are talking about when they say "unemployment"; the most frequently talked about "unemployment" figure refers to people who have lost their jobs, are drawing unemployment insurance, and are known to be looking for work. It does not include people who gave up looking, people who found a "job" with a zero hours contract that is getting them 10 hours/week if they're lucky, people who are "self-employed" at something too marginal to make a living because they can't find a real job, and so on. There are various different unemployment measures, some of which capture much more than others, but none of them really get everything. It's gotten to the point where I take someone talking about jobs a lot more seriously if they skip all that and talk about the labour participation rate--the percentage of the population that is working.

That said, until recently the United States did have a high and growing labour participation rate, and even longer term unemployment was quite a ways down. And bizarrely, despite all the damage the bastard did in other ways, with yet more tax cuts for the rich and badly thought out trade wars and so on, Trump could claim some credit for that. As the verrrry slow recovery from the 2009 financial crisis gradually cut unemployment levels, conventional economic wisdom had it that it was time to increase interest rates because low unemployment would cause inflation. Trump wouldn't go for it because it meant basically cutting short the economic expansion just when he wanted to be re-elected. He bullied the Fed into keeping rates low, and to the surprise of many, inflation (and decent wages) did not materialize. Probably because so much of the employment is precarious and virtually none is unionized. So that's actually one good thing Trump did, which a Democrat, or indeed a more conventional Republican, probably wouldn't have done. Probably the only good thing Trump did in his entire term, and even that he didn't do because he knew better than the conventional wisdom but because he was actually too ignorant to be fooled by it, but it had a significant impact.
yaomtc 14 Jan
Quoting: Kimyriellethat native Linux ports of AAA titles are dead. If I am not totally mistaken, Crusader Kings III was the only AAA title we got in all of 2020.

We did get Half-Life: Alyx.
The_Aquabat 15 Jan
Quoting: yaomtc
Quoting: Kimyriellethat native Linux ports of AAA titles are dead. If I am not totally mistaken, Crusader Kings III was the only AAA title we got in all of 2020.

We did get Half-Life: Alyx.
and Desperados III
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