Linux user share on Steam hits second highest percentage in years

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Valve have put out their usual monthly Hardware & Software Survey and it's looking pretty great for Linux overall. April 2022 showed a big boost to Linux gamers. After a few months of dipping down, it seems to have rocketed back up to be at the second-highest point it's been in years with 1.14%.

You can see how it has changed over the last few years on our Steam Tracker, with the current posted below. The previous peak being November 2021 at 1.16%, the previous second highest being October 2021 at 1.13%.

Going by the main combined numbers from Steam, these are the current most popular Linux distributions:

  • Ubuntu 20.04.4 LTS 64 bit 0.16% +0.03%
  • "Arch Linux" 64 bit 0.14% +0.02%
  • "Manjaro Linux" 64 bit 0.13% +0.01%
  • Linux Mint 20.3 64 bit 0.07% 0.00%
  • Ubuntu 21.10 64 bit 0.06% -0.01%

With the Steam Deck now shipping that uses SteamOS 3 Linux, it's perhaps not a big surprise to see a lot more interest in Linux Gaming overall now. Currently though, the Steam Survey is not included on the Steam Deck in Gaming Mode and only in Desktop Mode with the main Steam Client loaded so these numbers probably don't represent many Steam Deck users at all.

Thanks though to Proton and the Steam Deck, perhaps this is the start of a small shift over to Linux — one can hope but too early to tell anything really.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Meta, Steam, Valve
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41 comments
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Quoting: LNX
QuoteThanks though to Proton
for killing native linux games development
I completely understand where you are coming from.

I hope you can also understand where I am coming from when I say that I am grateful to be able to play video games on Linux at all.
Quoting: NonjuffoAccording to Linux GPU stats 1.82% (AMD AMD Custom GPU 0405) were surveyed on Steam Deck. So the 14% share increase doesn't come directly from Deck users (Not that anyone claimed it did).

In the previous month, Deck APU was recorded as AMD Van Gogh. Interesting to see this change.

PS. The %1.82 Steam Deck record is among Linux users, not everyone.


Last edited by mr-victory on 3 May 2022 at 11:45 am UTC
BlooAlien 3 May
Quoting: whizse
Quoting: LNXfor killing native linux games development
It might, but it haven't happened yet.

Check the stats for native releases by year on Steam. It's pretty constant, even with the arrival of Proton.

Yeah, I keep seeing people say that Proton is killing native Linux development (or guaranteed to be the death of native Linux games, or already has been/is), then I see on a fairly regular basis native Linux builds of various new (and old) games released. In addition to those native Linux games, I also see more games I've been told will never ever in a billion years run on Linux running on Linux (thanks to Proton).

I highly doubt that Proton's gonna be the death of native Linux games, but it sure does give us all access to a shit-ton of games we'd not be able to play otherwise, and gives publishers and developers a dead-simple way to support selling their games to a platform that many such publishers simply don't understand well enough to give us a native Linux build even if they wanted to. I'm thankful for all the work Valve's put into the WINE project, even if it is totally self-serving and profit-driven. An "everybody wins" scenario still means I win, even if Valve wins also.
TheSHEEEP 3 May
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Quoting: LNX
QuoteThanks though to Proton
for killing native linux games development
Others have already shown how that narrative is easily proven false.

Either way, even if it was:
Why care?
Can you play the game at a good performance while using a superior OS? Yes/no. That's what matters.
What bytecode an executable has under the hood is about as relevant as the color of your PC case.

If a dev decides to support Proton vs support a native executable doesn't matter, either, as long as one of those options happen.
For a lot of devs, the first option is vastly more feasible, though (due to their lack of Linux dev knowledge).


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 3 May 2022 at 12:14 pm UTC
Raaben 3 May
Quoting: TheSHEEEPFor a lot of devs, the first option is vastly more feasible, though (due to their lack of Linux dev knowledge).

And that will never change from relying on Proton. We shouldn't see Proton as an end goal. We'll keep playing catchup to proprietary tech forever, hoping to stay fast enough and to be honest, hope that corporate interest aka Valve stays interested. Instead of Vulkan, SDL, and other cross platform tech getting used and improved by more and more developers, we'll just be supporting more DirectX.

I'll say it again because I always have to as people like to twist my words, I am not saying Proton is evil or absolutely no Tux no Bucks ever, but we need to stop saying 'native doesn't matter' for the future.


Last edited by Raaben on 3 May 2022 at 2:00 pm UTC
KohlyKohl 3 May
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Didn't get a survey in desktop mode which is weird because I always get one on new hardware.
a0kami 3 May
I know market share is a meaningful information but has anyone been keeping tab on absolute linux user number estimates ?

Because Steam userbase is constantly growing so a market share growth within a absolute numbers growth is kinda cool actually.
But I do keep in mind "being this or that OS user" does not necessarily mean "there have been sales for this or that OS" or "people equally play that amount of time regardless of their system".
I mean there are tons of statistical biases which prevents us to ultimately declare whether Linux is doing well or not but with some hindsight it's looking good.


Last edited by a0kami on 3 May 2022 at 1:12 pm UTC
setzer22 3 May
Quoting: Liam Daweonly a very tiny niche of Linux Gamers that actually care what's under the hood.

As a game developer, I wish more devs (and players!) understood the value of embracing open and portable libraries / standards like SDL or Vulkan instead of giving in to propietary M$ crap. And that's my main reason to stand behind and support Linux gaming! Am I a minority? Perhaps, but everyone dismissing this minority's point of view might do more harm than you think in the long run.

Proton teaches developers that it's okay to embrace M$ "standards" and let them be the de-facto rulers of what the PC desktop experience should look like for everyone.

For all it has advanced in the past few years, Linux is still playing catch-up to whatever Windows decides it's the norm. That IMO is a very sad state of affairs. We get innovations in software and hardware years later (if at all!) because all the development and prototyping for games and hardware products is done almost exclusively on Windows aside from a few indie studios.

But yeah, I also like playing games without having to dual boot. It's convenient and I do it a lot, nobody is perfect.


Last edited by setzer22 on 3 May 2022 at 1:12 pm UTC
ShabbyX 3 May
Quoting: Raaben
Quoting: TheSHEEEPFor a lot of devs, the first option is vastly more feasible, though (due to their lack of Linux dev knowledge).

And that will never change from relying on Proton. We shouldn't see Proton as an end goal. We'll keep playing catchup to proprietary tech forever, hoping to stay fast enough and to be honest, hope that corporate interest aka Valve stays interested. Instead of Vulkan, SDL, and other cross platform tech getting used and improved by more and more developers, we'll just be supporting more DirectX.

I'll say it again because I always have to as people like to twist my words, I am not saying Proton is evil or absolutely no Tux nbo Bucks ever, but we need to stop saying 'native doesn't matter' for the future.

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Say you are developer of a popular game. Right now, you might not care to support a platform for an extra 1% income, and yes, be happy somebody else is taking care of it.

But if that's 10% of your income, are you really going to let that be at the merci of a third party library? No, you will definitely look into supporting it yourself. That might mean bundling and tweaking dxvk initially, and over time having an inhouse build with more control.

There is no way native is ignored if the shares are significant enough. That's why you don't need to *push* for native, it will happen on its own. What you need is push for Linux adoption.
tonyrh 3 May
wow if this keeps going on, in a couple of years we will take on MacOS!
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