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GOL Survey Results: September

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Valve have released the Steam Hardware Survey results for September and thus, GOL’s first survey comes to an end. 670 people completed the survey, which is quite a nice sample - so thanks all of you who took the time to do it.

As soon as I published the survey, there was a lot of feedback on changes which should be made, and that has been taken on board and incorporated into the new survey. The main change is that all questions are related to “last month” (ie. how many games did you buy last month) rather than being more general.

The new Survey for October is available here - so please fill that in if you have the time.

Here is a question-by-question analysis on the results. This will likely be shorter in the future,but given that this is the first time we are seeing these results, this on will be more detailed:

Q1: Do you use Gnu/Linux as your primary gaming platform?

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Yes - 63.43% (425)
No - 12.54% (84)
Yes, and I only buy games with Linux support - 24.03% (161)

This is kind of expected from readers of a website devoted to Linux gaming - still 87.46% is quite high for Linux overall. The question has been clarified to state “primary PC platform” (rather than just platform) in the new survey.

Q2: What proportion of games do you play through Wine?

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Nearly all games through Wine - 0.60% (4)
More games on Wine than native - 3.74% (25)
About half and half - 7.17% (48)
More native games than through Wine - 15.10% (101)
Nearly all games native - 40.36% (270)
I don't use Wine / don't use Wine for gaming - 33.03% (221)

The total users using Native Linux more than Wine is 88.49%, with 4.34% using Wine more often than Linux to play games. One point of clarification in the next survey is that games using a Wine wrapper should still be counted as native since on Steam it would count as a Linux sale/download.

Q3: What proportion of games do you play on your Windows partition?


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Nearly all games on Windows - 3.89% (26)
More games on Windows than Linux - 8.52% (57)
About half and half - 7.32% (49)
More games on Linux than Windows - 8.37% (56)
Nearly all games on Linux - 17.49% (117)
No Windows partition / don't use Windows for gaming - 54.41% (364)

It was quite surprising to see that over 50% of GOL readers don’t have a Windows partition, and given all the new releases coming out from when this survey was published until December (Tropico 5 and Borderlands 2 already), the number of people dual booting will most likely decrease - which we may have already witnessed this month in the Linux market share increase from Steam Hardware Survey.

Q4: What distribution do you use as your main gaming distribution?

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Debian based - 58.98% (394)
Slackware based - 1.20% (8)
Red Hat based - 3.59% (24)
Suse based - 3.89% (26)
Arch Based - 25.45% (170)
Other (please specify) - 6.89% (46)

It is perhaps no surprise given most developers test on and officially support only Ubuntu that most use a Debian-based distro, however, Arch still has a pretty strong showing. Those who put “other” mostly specified Ubuntu or Mint (which I have now clarified in the new survey that they are Debian-based) and others put Gentoo, which I missed out and have now included. I have also added a question about Desktop Environments.

Q5: Are you a distro hopper? (change distribution more than once every two years)

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Yes - 13.75% (92)
No - 80.12% (536)
Yes, but not for gaming - 6.13% (41)

Quite surprisingly, an overwhelming majority said no and not for gaming (which would leave Steam’s results unaffected) - so either a lot of people lied and said no so as not to annoy Liam, or this may well be less of an issue than we thought.

Q6: What graphics card do you use on your main gaming PC?

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Nvidia - 69.91% (467)
AMD - 23.80% (159)
Intel - 6.29% (42)

This is to be expected considering the bad reputation AMD have on Linux - though with the open source drivers improving quickly and AMD promising to improve their drivers, this may gradually change over time. Just as a comparison, Steam’s results show 51.56% for Nvidia, 29.47% for AMD and 18.63% for Intel - where the increase Intel users can most likely be attributed to the fact that Steam’s survey applies to everyone on Steam while this site appeals more to “enthusiast” gamers who are less likely to use integrated cards. The next survey also asks what drivers you use.

Q7: What CPU do you use on your main gaming PC?

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Intel - 69.21% (463)
AMD - 30.79% (206)
Other - 0.00% (0)

The AMD share is 5% higher than Steam’s results across all platforms, which suggests Linux gamers are more into AMD CPUs than Windows gamers. I don’t know what I was expecting with the “other” response - maybe I thought some of you might duct tape a graphics card to a ARM Raspberry Pi and call it a gaming PC?

Q8: Which of these retailers do you use to buy your Linux games?


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Steam - 96.69% (642)
Desura - 21.08% (140)
GOG.com - 45.93% (305)
Humble Store - 72.14% (479)
Other (please specify) - 7.98% (53)

What we can take from that is that a lot of people use Steam. I have added Indie Gala, KickStarter, GamersGate and developer website to the list of options in the new survey since they appeared often under Other.

Q9: How many Linux games do you buy per month?

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Less than 1 - 17.09% (114)
1-2 - 44.68% (298)
2-5 - 28.19% (188)
5-10 - 7.95% (53)
10+ - 2.10% (14)

This is one result which will most likely vary heavily from month to month, depending on bundle offerings, Steam summer/winter sales, new releases, etc. Given the usual drought in this period and how Humble Bundles have had less and less Linux games lately, it is understandable that most people answered 2 or less. Again - the new survey refers specifically to the previous month - ie. October’s survey will ask how many you bought in September.

Q10: Will you be getting a Steam Machine any time after release?

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Yes - 11.49% (77)
No - 29.25% (196)
Still undecided - 30.60% (205)
I already built my own (or planning to build my own) - 28.66% (192)

These were very interesting results, and I would have separated the will/have built if I had known that result would be so high. Rather than seeing how this one changes on a monthly basis, I think this one will remain out of the next survey and appear again on release of the Steam Machine. Instead, there will be a monthly “one off” question relevant to that month. For example, September’s big release was Tropico so the question for October will be “Did you or are you planning on buying Tropico” or this could be CS:S or Borderlands 2 next month. Suggestions welcome!

Conclusions

In the monthly Steam Hardware Survey articles, Liam has stated Linux users not using Steam or distro-hoppers as possible causes to the changes in Linux users we see month to month on Steam Hardware Survey, and up until now I also thought the same, but this survey has thrown much of that out the window. This shows one of the main reasons why having such a survey is important to Linux Gaming - because there are things we are still in the dark about given that Linux gaming is still a fairly new thing.

Hopefully, this will provide some interesting reading for us as we watch the stats change on a monthly basis, and also provide some useful information for developers looking to make games for Linux since currently there isn't much out there. If you can keep filling out this survey on a monthly basis, it will most likely be a big help to all of us so remember to fill in this month's survey.

UPDATE:

There seems to be a bit of confusion with one of the new questions on this month's survey. "If you stopped using Windows last month completely for gaming, please state your reasons why (ie. a new game release, realised you never use it, etc.)" is specifically aimed at people who stopped using Windows altogether LAST MONTH since it would be interesting to get an idea over time of why people stop using it and how the release of certain games affects that. Currently people are saying why they don't use Windows generally for games, which is interesting but not the point of the question. Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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About the author -
After many years of floating through space on the back of a missile, following a successful career in beating people up for not playing Sega Saturn, the missile returned to earth. Upon returning, I discovered to my dismay that the once great console had been discontinued and Sega had abandoned the fight to dominate the world through 32-bit graphical capabilities.

After spending some years breaking breeze blocks with my head for money and being mocked by strangers, I have found a new purpose: to beat up people for not playing on Linux.
See more from me
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54 comments
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stan 4 Oct, 2014
  • Supporter
Quoting: Segata SanshiroThose on Ubuntu should simply put Debian-based (because that's what it is) and based on distrowatch numbers, we can be almost sure that the 60% will be made up of mostly Ubuntu derivatives and Mint.
Distrowatch numbers are page views and for the longest time everyone has wondered if they really reflect distro usage. This would be an opportunity to check that.

In fact you can see that on Distrowatch, Mageia, Fedora and openSUSE are above Arch! (6 months stats.) This is very different from the results of your survey!

Personally I’d like to know if there are (many) people using Debian 7, because from a game developer point of view it’s useful to know: Debian 7 uses glibc 2.13 while Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (the oldest supported Ubuntu) uses glibc 2.15. So if a game is built under Ubuntu it will not work under Debian.
Eike 4 Oct, 2014
Quoting: stanPersonally I’d like to know if there are (many) people using Debian 7, because from a game developer point of view it’s useful to know: Debian 7 uses glibc 2.13 while Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (the oldest supported Ubuntu) uses glibc 2.15. So if a game is built under Ubuntu it will not work under Debian.

People using Debian 7 (Wheezy) should know that they need a newer libc and get it some way or the others (there are scripts for it, or they fetch it from Jessie, or just download it, ...). You can rely on a glibc > 2.13 if you need to.

But I've a question (as a developer): What's the big difference between these versions?
UnitingIsland3 4 Oct, 2014
You forgot OS X. More or less every Mac/Hackintosh uses an Intel CPU and a majority use an Intel GPU, which evens out the results for CPUs and GPUs somewhat. I also think that a Linux user is more likely to build his own PC, rather than buy a prebuilt one. Intel seems to be more common in prebuilt PCs, and AMD CPUs are more competitive in user builds (still less popular than Intel, though).
sev 4 Oct, 2014
I was surprised to see such an Intel bias on the CPUs.

Also not clear on why people object to Steam. These are non-open source games, so who cares if I buy them on Steam or directly from the dev site? I don't get it, what am I missing? And as far as I can tell, Steam/Valve is almost single-handedly responsible for us GETTING these games in the first place. I will happily support Steam, even if they take a cut of the profits, because these publishers wouldn't have even bothered with Linux if not for Valve saying that Windows is on its way out.

Otherwise, the results are more or less unsurprising, and very informative. I feel like I know our gaming community much better now.

Off to take the new survey!
stan 5 Oct, 2014
  • Supporter
Quoting: EikePeople using Debian 7 (Wheezy) should know that they need a newer libc
You’re saying that as if there was some sort of Debian Gaming Licence that people can only get by passing a glibc test.
sharkwouter 5 Oct, 2014
I kinda wonder what other means in the distro part, I can only come up with Gentoo, PCLinuxOS and Mageia.
Apopas 5 Oct, 2014
Quoting: sevAlso not clear on why people object to Steam. These are non-open source games, so who cares if I buy them on Steam or directly from the dev site?
I'm not going to buy a single game even from a dev's site if this game has any morph of DRM. Never!
It has nothing to do with the profits Steam gets. Simply Steam promotes the use of DRM and as that, even if it is responsible for the improvement of Linux as gaming platform, I will avoid it. That's why I support Humble Bundle and GOG. The day they add DRM as well, will be the day I will stop to buy from them.
Apopas 5 Oct, 2014
Quoting: sharkwouterI kinda wonder what other means in the distro part, I can only come up with Gentoo, PCLinuxOS and Mageia.
I use Gentoo on my laptop and Chakra on my Desktop.
Eike 5 Oct, 2014
Quoting: stan
Quoting: EikePeople using Debian 7 (Wheezy) should know that they need a newer libc
You’re saying that as if there was some sort of Debian Gaming Licence that people can only get by passing a glibc test.

If I remember correctly, Steam doesn't even start without the newer libc?
(And according to the gamingonlinux survey, the vast majority of Linux players do use Steam...)
stan 5 Oct, 2014
  • Supporter
Quoting: EikeIf I remember correctly, Steam doesn't even start without the newer libc?
(And according to the gamingonlinux survey, the vast majority of Linux players do use Steam...)
Ah, I understand better :). That’s a good point. Still, it should not be much harder for a dev to build under Debian than it is to build under Ubuntu (haven’t done that yet…).
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