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

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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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Areso 3 December 2017 at 2:19 pm UTC
We need timed exclusives or else we doomed.
Another possible way to make 0% Valve share from Linux sales, so devs could offer some bonuses for those users, who buy and run games in Linux to stimulate them.
Devs could not make a sale for one platform, but they can offer DLCs, start bundles, some nice wallpapers, emoji or whatsever they could offer.


Last edited by Areso at 3 December 2017 at 2:20 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
g000h 3 December 2017 at 2:21 pm UTC
sonic
lucifertdarkHands up anyone who has had the survey recently, anyone?
Yep, yesterday (second time this year)

Me too, two days ago. (on Linux, heh)


Last edited by g000h at 3 December 2017 at 2:21 pm UTC
qptain Nemo 3 December 2017 at 2:39 pm UTC
AresoAnother possible way to make 0% Valve share from Linux sales, so devs could offer some bonuses for those users, who buy and run games in Linux to stimulate them.
Devs could not make a sale for one platform, but they can offer DLCs, start bundles, some nice wallpapers, emoji or whatsever they could offer.
It's a nice idea in theory but it's very hard to come up with something of that nature that wouldn't make users of other platforms feel being treated unfairly neither come off as cheap.

But I guess some purely cosmetic items that look really nice among a bunch of non-exclusive items could do the trick. In fact the more I think about it the more it seems like a good idea if done right.


Last edited by qptain Nemo at 3 December 2017 at 2:47 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
razing32 3 December 2017 at 5:57 pm UTC
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Boogiepop_Phantom
QuoteAlso a spike in Windows users may relate to a trend for one game in particular(i.e PUBG) and that benefits only the devs of that game.
That benefit all windows devs, because all those people who came for PUBG can buy another game or two, or maybe 10 who knows.

Not my original point.
My point was the increase in Windows users was specifically for one game : PUBG
Whether said users remain on steam or make any more purchases is unknown at this time.


Last edited by razing32 at 3 December 2017 at 5:58 pm UTC
slaapliedje 3 December 2017 at 8:55 pm UTC
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sonic
lucifertdarkHands up anyone who has had the survey recently, anyone?
Yep, yesterday (second time this year)

I don't think I ever have under Linux
etonbears 4 December 2017 at 12:46 pm UTC
liamdawe
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.

Yes, this is all true, and any developer that can produce a Linux or Mac OS game with minimal cost ( perhaps because they already use a x-platform games engine ) will probably do so almost regardless of user base gyrations.

But games companies are still businesses, and many will still follow the money. That is why we have seen much free-to-play, fragmented DLC rather than coherent expansions, on-line competitive multi-player, pay-to-win, random ( often bad ) content purchasable loot crates, and so on.

These changes directly improve revenue, so they make their way into games, even though most players dislike at least some of them ( most of them in my case ). My main concern with these stats ( as per your analysis ) would be how a massive additional player base from China would skew the games marketplace? I'm certain that likes/dislikes and accepted behaviour will be different, and suspect that will affect future decisions in the industry.
lucifertdark 4 December 2017 at 5:42 pm UTC
Boogiepop_PhantomYeah, grand scale conspiracy as usual.
No conspiracy involved, I'm just saying that I've had the survey more times in Windows in the last year than I have in the entire time that steam has been available on Linux.
etonbears 4 December 2017 at 7:13 pm UTC
lucifertdark
Boogiepop_PhantomYeah, grand scale conspiracy as usual.
No conspiracy involved, I'm just saying that I've had the survey more times in Windows in the last year than I have in the entire time that steam has been available on Linux.

For a while that was my experience too; then it flipped to more often on Linux.

It is still fairly rare for me to get the survey at all, primarily, I think, because I suspend my PC most of the time when I am not using it, so Steam is rarely restarted. About the only obvious part of the survey algorithm is that it only appears to trigger as part of the login/connect process. Without knowing the rest of the algorithm, it is difficult to judge if it is even-handed.

Beyond the even-handedness aspect, the other obvious potential difference is if Linux users, as a whole, are more likely to game in off-line mode, or act in some other way that bypasses the survey. Unfortunately, this is also an unknown.
Purple Library Guy 4 December 2017 at 7:37 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).
Presumably what counts for developers is who buys games. So for instance, if there are patterns observable in different locales, like English speakers having more dough to buy games with or Chinese (simplified) users tending to be fanboys of a single game and not buy that much else, developers would be fools not to look past the raw numbers of individuals on Steam.

It's still not good. And I suspect that the Chinese will be among the last to start using Linux unless there's some kind of concerted government action to change things. So to some extent these percentages probably represent a new normal; when the Chinese influx stabilizes a bit we'll have the new floor from which to measure future growth (which will tend to be, for a while at least, happening in places other than China).
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