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Here's another way to look at the Linux market share on Steam

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I'm always interested to see what happens with the Linux market share on Steam, especially the bigger picture. Here's an alternative look at the Linux market share on Steam.

Credit to GOL fan "hardpenguin" for his idea, to check on how the rise of "Simplified Chinese" as a market on Steam has directly affected the Linux market share. The results are—interesting.

I should state that, while obvious to some, people still get confused by all this (especially me, I'm only human after all). We are talking about percentages, not absolute numbers. We have no idea what the real numbers are behind this, only the percentages Valve give us by surveying a set of their user base.

First of all, let's take a look at what's happened to the overall Linux market share as shown by Valve in their hardware survey. It doesn't look good, but keep reading after.


As I said, that looks like an unhappy chart. Over that exact same time period, let’s look at what happened on Steam with “Simplified Chinese” as a language in comparison with English:

Well then—that’s some big growth you’ve got there. One month can be written off as an anomaly, but the trend is clear there. So what happens when you compare what Steam shows as the overall Linux market share, against that same market share when you take out Simplified Chinese and when you’re just looking at English:

So, from our experiment here, it shows Linux is currently in a decline in terms of "overall market share" on Steam. No need to sugarcoat it or hide from it, the data is there. However, it's nothing close to how bad it may seem, given that you should obviously see how Simplified Chinese rising sharply has directly affected it, it's clear as day when you simply remove it.

To mention an important fact, Steam is not just growing in Asia, as shown by Valve's own info. Before we get people looking at the lines without Simplified Chinese and thinking Linux is going down by itself anyway. It's just that Asia has grown more rapidly than others. It's quite clearly a Windows-orientated marked too, so even if Linux has actually grown during that time, it's just been massively outpaced. The point? It's not as bad as it seems.

Something to keep in mind, that I’ve mentioned before numerous times: Steam is constantly growing. We don’t know what the true numbers are, so it’s literally impossible to get the real picture. As mentioned at the start, we just don’t know what the total amount is each time they do the Steam Hardware Survey in terms of the amount of people surveyed and the total amount of registered Steam users.

The fact remains that a lower percentage for Linux one month, against a higher overall number of users, can end up as an increase in total numbers of Linux gamers on Steam. I'm not saying it is or it isn't though. For us to know if the real amount of people using Linux for gaming on Steam is higher or lower, we need Valve to release the actual numbers behind the curtains. Something many people have been repeatedly asking for.

What will be interesting to see, is how Linux bounces back once the hype around certain popular games begins to fade. I don't want to repeat what I've already said too much, but it will happen. I imagine it will be at least a year before we see that happen and how far will Linux progress behind the scenes in that time to be ready? The open source Mesa drivers have come along at a staggering pace to improve AMD performance on Linux, decent VR supporting is slowly coming along, we've got games being released all the time and more. What we need to think about, is preparing for the bubble bursting back in our favour.

This was an interesting way to spend a Saturday evening, I shall return to our normal Linux gaming news on Monday!

Note: All this data was manually gathered and sorted by me, using the data available from Valve. Credit would be appreciated it you pinch it.

19 Likes, Who?
Comments
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Whitewolfe80 3 December 2017 at 4:24 pm UTC
ShmerlI'm more surprised that Linux is not widely used in China.

They don't pay for software on the whole which is why MS offer Windows for free in china so it does skew the numbers.
psycho_driver 3 December 2017 at 4:29 pm UTC
ShmerlI'm more surprised that Linux is not widely used in China.

From what I've read most of this influx over the past year are PUBG bot accounts. What I find hilarious is that if PUBG had a linux version that ran equal to or better than the windows version linux would be sitting at about 50% share on Steam right now.
Ketil 3 December 2017 at 4:30 pm UTC
I am Norwegian, but I run most of my software in English, including steam. I assume linux users are more likely to pick English over their native language than users of other platforms.
psycho_driver 3 December 2017 at 4:31 pm UTC
Whitewolfe80
ShmerlI'm more surprised that Linux is not widely used in China.

They don't pay for software on the whole which is why MS offer Windows for free in china so it does skew the numbers.

Free vs free and I'll still go with linux for every situation. I'm not sure how much they would even have to pay me to use windows. I guess my work sort of does that.
psycho_driver 3 December 2017 at 4:35 pm UTC
stretch611I have not done much with steamcharts... is there a way to show total number of linux users? Or does valve consider that proprietary?

Valve does sometimes comment on the number of total users they have. So you could extrapolate a fairly decent estimate based off of that.


Last edited by psycho_driver at 3 December 2017 at 4:35 pm UTC
Boogiepop_Phantom 3 December 2017 at 4:48 pm UTC
QuoteWhat I find hilarious is that if PUBG had a linux version that ran equal to or better than the windows version linux would be sitting at about 50% share on Steam right now.

What I find more hilarious is that PUBG uses UE4 engine and can be relatively easy ported to Linux, yet "For the moment, a Linux version is not in the plan." They will probably port it to consoles first and swim in monies.
Seegras 3 December 2017 at 5:20 pm UTC
KetilI am Norwegian, but I run most of my software in English, including steam. I assume linux users are more likely to pick English over their native language than users of other platforms.

This, and also Europe in general. The market share for "Games in English language only" is actually quite high; people do know enough English that most people are able to play a game in English if it's not available in the native language.

Same goes for movies. Here in Switzerland, typically the evening shows in movie theaters are in English, with subtitles. If you want it dubbed, you have to go to watch the movie in the afternoon with the children .

So the question to what this really boils down to, is, how big is the market for non-localized software. And it's really low in cultural-imperialist China (I always wanted say this one ).
Kuduzkehpan 3 December 2017 at 8:17 pm UTC
Linux wont be truly main platform for game and software developers until some of these achieved;

1) professional on demand support for developers. (im not talking about free /non-free to read documents examples on internet)
2) official professional linux support for linux operating system for developers.
3) transfer of world leadership of military economical and political; İts America and Americas products and culture money so windows intel these are become very popular not only because their value but because of who they belongs to. These must change But it may be already changing to China-Russia side. (also this is short cut for linux to become main platform of developers game industries. already we have cryengine5 Unity UE4 Unigine 4A Gadot and so many other middlewares tools working on linux there is only a will need to be set as a state and prosperity behind Linux China-Deepin , Russia-Rosa for examples. so then there will be no america and windows and intel posibly yes china has linux based os and own product cpu "shenwei" which is competing intel xeon chips for top500 supercomputer list.)
Whitewolfe80 3 December 2017 at 8:49 pm UTC
psycho_driver
Whitewolfe80
ShmerlI'm more surprised that Linux is not widely used in China.

They don't pay for software on the whole which is why MS offer Windows for free in china so it does skew the numbers.

Free vs free and I'll still go with linux for every situation. I'm not sure how much they would even have to pay me to use windows. I guess my work sort of does that.

Yeah I would stick with Linux but the Chinese who dont give two shits about spyware because their government already monitors everything they do and look at, they currently just want pubg.
appetrosyan 3 December 2017 at 9:05 pm UTC
I don't care anymore. Steam doesn't care about Linux, no surprise that the statistics drop.
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