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Linux user share on Steam breaks 2% thanks to Steam Deck

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A moment I've no doubt many Linux fans have been waiting to see. The Linux user share on Steam has smashed through the 2% barrier.

Not actually for the first time though, it did initially rise up above 2% in March 2013, shortly after the original Steam for Linux release when it left Beta. Part of the reason it had higher numbers at the start, was that Valve added a special Tux item into Team Fortress 2 only on Linux but it quickly dropped in the following months.

With the latest info though from the May 2024 survey, Linux has now hit 2.32%.

  • Windows 96.21% -0.55%
  • Linux 2.32% +0.42%
  • macOS 1.47% +0.12%

If I have my historical data correct, we haven't seen Linux be over 2% since 2013. Take into account the explosive growth of Steam as a platform and that's quite a lot of people now. Mostly thanks to Steam Deck.

See it over time on our Steam Tracker page.

The Linux distribution breakdown:

  • SteamOS Holo 64 bit 45.34% +3.01%
  • Arch Linux 64 bit 7.90% -0.34%
  • Freedesktop SDK 23.08 (Flatpak runtime) 64 bit 6.05% +0.04%
  • Ubuntu 22.04.4 LTS 64 bit 4.76% -1.37%
  • Linux Mint 21.3 64 bit 4.23% -0.16%
  • Manjaro Linux 64 bit 3.18% -0.19%
  • Ubuntu Core 22 64 bit 2.62% +2.62% (Steam Snap)
  • Pop!_OS 22.04 LTS 64 bit 2.57% +2.57%
  • Other 23.98% -5.55%

See more on the Steam Survey.

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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Mal Jun 3
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It's all nice and good but far from the tipping point.

Does anyone have some kind of research/analisys that tries to identify the % at which point the "network effect" will trigger?
Quoting: MalIt's all nice and good but far from the tipping point.

Does anyone have some kind of research/analisys that tries to identify the % at which point the "network effect" will trigger?
This paper answers your question for a simplified model, but it's complex enough that I can't do the math.
Quoting: CatKiller
Quoting: Purple Library GuyYes and no. The difference, sure, at any particular snapshot in time. But that's not what I was wondering about. Linux's 4% on the web was 2% not so long ago--the Linux desktop web share has apparently doubled, while its Steam share has inched upwards, I dunno, maybe 10%. This during a time when using the Linux desktop to game has rapidly gotten more workable, so if anything I would have expected the ratio to shrink, not grow. Still seems odd to me.

Since September 2018 (the start of the GOL data) Linux in the web browser has grown from 1.68% to 3.77%, while Linux on Steam has grown from 0.78% to 2.32%.
Yesyes, but most of the Linux on Steam growth has been on the Deck, which is probably not used to browse the web very much. Desktop Linux growth on Steam has been much lower, although I'd forgotten we were ever quite as low as 0.78%.

Let's see, desktop Linux, based on the "SteamOS" distro being at 45% of the total, would now be at 1.25%. Well, that's not as out of line as I was thinking; let's see, 1.25/0.78 = Desktop Linux on Steam has grown to 1.6 times its 2018 level, while the "on the web" share has grown to 2.25 times its 2018 level. It's not an exact match, but that's not really a surprise; I was thinking in terms of the web share more than doubling while desktop on Steam went from around 1 to around 1.2, so this is not nearly as big a discrepancy. I mostly withdraw my point. I still would have figured that the rise of Proton would have seen growth in Linux used for gaming happen faster than growth in Linux used for other things, not slower.

Last edited by Purple Library Guy on 4 June 2024 at 2:48 pm UTC
Here's hoping for 50% in 2025!

Seriously though, the tomfoolery that Windows 11 gets up to may just force a bunch of folks to say "Screw it!".

I mean, they're having to jump through more hoops to get older programs working than I had to with WINE on Maverick Meerkat circa 2010! (If you're wondering, Civ4 was the first game I ever installed via WINE; it was relatively painless, even back then.)

Including using WINE's own libraries compiled for Win32/Wow64! I ran afoul of this very thing when I had to replace my sister's dead laptop hybrid HDD and decided to upgrade it to something reasonably modern from Windows 8.1. (She's decidedly anti-Linux.)

I haven't even used Windows since 7 in 2016. Nice to know I have absolutely nothing to regret about that.
CatKiller Jun 4
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Quoting: MalIt's all nice and good but far from the tipping point.

Does anyone have some kind of research/analisys that tries to identify the % at which point the "network effect" will trigger?
So it's not a scientific analysis, but we were chatting about it on the Discord this morning.

and we got to
QuoteThinking about the dynamics of that bump in the Steam Machines era, Mac was ~3.5% and Liam says Linux was briefly ~2% because of the Tux giveaway, so let's say ~5% combined. Avoiding single-platform traps and having an OpenGL render path got you both, essentially (with it actually being harder then than now), and Steam Machines meant that multiplatform was The Future.
Mac no longer uses the same rendering API as Linux, and its gaming market share has collapsed, so we'd need to be able to do it solo for Linux/Vulkan. So ~5% with publicly-known scope for big future growth seems like it might capture that similar ~40% motivation.
If Sony and/or Nintendo also embraced the use of Vulkan, that would increase the size of the target relative to the work done.
I am about to try POP OS
But when STEAM HOLO will be available for regular PC's?
Eike Jun 5
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Quoting: Comandante ÑoñardoI am about to try POP OS
But when STEAM HOLO will be available for regular PC's?

Don't wait for it.
Quoting: preludelinuxWell with Recall im sure that will increase quickly. Its interesting that devs still make mac ports before linux native ports though and says they make more money on mac when there are more gamers on linux.

To Mac users it makes sense to spend 10$ on an emulator and 200$ on a set of headphones and they let apple manage their system settings.
Liam Dawe Jun 17
Quoting: Pikolo`Ubuntu Core 22 64 bit` is probably the snap version of Steam - is the the default packaging on Ubuntu 24.04?
Ah, Ubuntu changed the default package type found in software centre to be snap, and Steam snap is out of beta.
A bit late on this, but it is indeed the Snap package confirmed by Canonical.
Naib Jun 17
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Thats clearly in the emergence stage of a sigmoid...
is the RAW data somewhere... I use to keep up but forgot...
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