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Linux market share on Steam drops again as Steam continues to grow

Posted by , / 4414 views

Another month and another Steam Hardware Survey, despite what some out there are saying, there is no cause for alarm.

Here's the latest statistics from Valve (from here):

  • Windows: 98.33% +0.29%
  • Mac: 1.35% -0.21%
  • Linux: 0.27% -0.05%

While I've seen people disappointed with the numbers, it really can't be helped right now. To be clear, this in no way means there's suddenly less Linux gamers than a few months ago, not at all. Steam itself is growing rapidly in markets where Linux isn't currently popular. One market growing, doesn't mean another is shrinking if you're adding more to the total. Not only that, but it's being fuelled a lot by PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS which is not on Linux or Mac. Mac is actually seeing the biggest losses over the past few months due to this.

Steam is practically exploding with "Simplified Chinese" now taking the biggest share of users at 64.35% (+8.23%) on Windows. On Linux, Simplified Chinese only has a share of 0.63%, so you can easily link up what's happening.

Once the bubble has burst over the mass hype around PUBG, I fully expect the numbers to move back towards what they were before. It will happen too, all bubbles eventually burst, it will probably happen again in future and in reality nothing has actually changed.

When speaking to game developers, they often show sales from Linux games being around the 1% mark and higher. Most recently, in part 5 of my article series of talking to developers about sales of their Linux games, we were seeing numbers well above what Valve have been showing recently. I've spoken to another few developers over the last few weeks, while trying to arrange part 6 in the series and I can already tell you that Linux gaming is not in a sudden decline in terms of sales numbers.

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1xok 2 December 2017 at 8:04 pm UTC
Valve no longer lists the different distributions. Only Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS 64 bit and others:

http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/?platform=linux


Last edited by 1xok at 2 December 2017 at 8:07 pm UTC
sonic 2 December 2017 at 8:14 pm UTC
liamdaweSome places end up talking about the numbers as if they're some kind of absolute, to show Linux use falling. An example of this is PC World, I spoke to the editor of that article telling them to look a bit deeper, so they did.

Good work with pcworld, unfortunately there are a lot other gaming servers which are interpreting it in wrong way. Shame on them
sub 2 December 2017 at 8:49 pm UTC
Sorry, but I don't see the point always mentioning that the absolute number of Linux Steam users "still" grows. It sounds like saying "It's not that bad".

It is that bad - the fraction of Linux users is far below 1 %.
And THAT is ALL that counts to developers (unless they are Linux fans).

Even if some dev plans on absolute numbers, it wouldn't be clever from an economical point.
as every man hour spent to improve experience for the potentially 100 times larger user base is most likely far better spent.

This is sad. Yeah.
Does it feel like Valve is still planning something big for Linux.
I don't think so. As Linux fans we can only hope MS is enforcing its XBox+Windows marketplace strategy and pushes Valve to its Linux plan B (or C) project again.
Mountain Man 2 December 2017 at 9:01 pm UTC
Linux lost fewer than OSX, so I guess that's good news. The bad news is that Windows gained our losses.
liamdawe 2 December 2017 at 9:32 pm UTC
subSorry, but I don't see the point always mentioning that the absolute number of Linux Steam users "still" grows. It sounds like saying "It's not that bad".
I'll be honest, really struggled with replying to this. How can you not think that's important? It's extremely important to know when dealing with percentages if the overall number you're dealing with is bigger and where that change has come from. It would be a completely different story if the Linux percentage dropped as much as it has, without seeing the trends behind the percentages. That's the entire point of the article, to attempt to explain how it's not actually as bad as some people keep saying it is.

Again, see my other reply with PC World as the example of why such things are important to be clear about.

subEven if some dev plans on absolute numbers, it wouldn't be clever from an economical point.
as every man hour spent to improve experience for the potentially 100 times larger user base is most likely far better spent.
As I said in the article "nothing has actually changed". This has always been the case and even if we went up to 2%, it would still be the case.

I get this is a hot topic for some people, but it is important to highlight and look into the actual reasons behind change and understand them.
hardpenguin 2 December 2017 at 9:36 pm UTC
Regular reminder that Linux share among users using English version of Steam client (biggest share after Simplified Chinese) is easy to calculate, and it's about 1,6%

https://www.gamingonlinux.com/articles/linux-marketshare-on-steam-dropped-again-in-october-as-china-takes-a-massive-chunk-of-the-market.10651/comment_id=106883
liamdawe 2 December 2017 at 9:57 pm UTC
hardpenguinRegular reminder that Linux share among users using English version of Steam client (biggest share after Simplified Chinese) is easy to calculate, and it's about 1,6%

https://www.gamingonlinux.com/articles/linux-marketshare-on-steam-dropped-again-in-october-as-china-takes-a-massive-chunk-of-the-market.10651/comment_id=106883
Interesting. Using that testing method then of: Non-Chinese Simplified (everything else) being about 35% of Steams overall market, the apparent current Linux share of 0.27%, we end up with a figure of: 0.77%.

English specific, would be be about 1.58%.


Last edited by liamdawe at 2 December 2017 at 9:58 pm UTC
johndoe 2 December 2017 at 10:33 pm UTC
1xokValve no longer lists the different distributions. Only Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS 64 bit and others:

http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey/?platform=linux

What the f**k is going on here.
I'm really angry reading this post.
If this is true I like to write a f**king email to Valve asking them what the f**k they do.
I bought 8 games in november (I don't use Ubuntu) and I'm f**king sure that I'm not the only one.
These numbers must be totally wrong!!!!!
Crazy Penguin 2 December 2017 at 10:34 pm UTC
subSorry, but I don't see the point always mentioning that the absolute number of Linux Steam users "still" grows. It sounds like saying "It's not that bad".

It is that bad - the fraction of Linux users is far below 1 %.
And THAT is ALL that counts to developers (unless they are Linux fans).

Even if some dev plans on absolute numbers, it wouldn't be clever from an economical point.
as every man hour spent to improve experience for the potentially 100 times larger user base is most likely far better spent

Only with absolute numbers you get the real value of a market share.

Sure I go for the biggest one first, but if the smaller share is still big enough to get money out of it, so why shouldn't I support it? Because it's peanuts? It is still a plus. We have reached the critical mass some years ago already.
killyou 2 December 2017 at 11:59 pm UTC
With Windows 10 ISO downloadable from Microsoft website and usable with just a warning Linux will have a hard time growing. Also one can get Windows 10 key for few bucks as used OEM and Microsoft is not revoking them so you can have crippled Windows 10 for free or full professional version for few bucks and it's way better for gaming than Linux. For other people that are not emotionally and technologically attached to Linux it's a no brainer. After Windows 8 disaster Microsoft knew that they need to give out OS for free, that it's no more a product but a platform. That's a major challange to Linux.

I know Liam is going to call on me being pessimist again but the time for Linux desktop was Windows Vista disaster, Windows 8 disaster, end of Windows XP support disaster. There were so many moments where Valve teamed up with companies like Red Hat or Canonical could do serious damage. Besides things like home calling, "spying" etc Windows 10 is a really good system so right now for a regular user/gamer there are no real reasons to move to Linux. The only migration scenario that I see right now is the old "I want to learn some stuff".

We need Valve fully commited to Steam Machines and here is what I think would work:
- make it a single model like a regular console
- advertise it as a console with PC funcionality (mouse and keyboard that can be connected without any issues, access to the desktop)
- make some exclusives
- enforce policy for all Steam games that they need to come with graphical settings allowing for minimum 30 FPS on the console within it's lifecycle

Steam Machine experience needs to be on par with PlayStation and Xbox while surpasing it with the numer of starting titles. Did I mention ADVERTISING?!

Having said that the big questions is whether it's a feasible business in 2017/2018. We probably are not far away from gaming as a service playing major role so we will be left with just streaming terminals instead of gaming PCs in the near future and games running in the data centres so it doesn't make any difference to which operating system the games are going to be streamed to. Even if we don't want this new model they will shove it down our throats judging by the microtransactions, lootboxes and an urge of the gaming corporations to have constant monetization on games instead of just initial revenue of a sold copy.
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