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The latest Steam Hardware Survey shows Linux market-share has declined again

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Every month Valve put out their hardware survey, inside it shows off the market-share of operating systems and Linux has continued to decline.

For September 2017, Linux was at 0.60%. This is far from where Linux market-share on Steam was some time ago, although it has never been all that high anyway.

Here's a chart provided to me by EndeavourAccuracy (thanks!), which shows the unfortunate trend:

There could be many reasons for this, all of which I've probably mentioned before at some point. The one thing I would like to stress though, is that market-share declining doesn't necessarily mean less people. The amount of people using Linux for gaming on Steam, might actually be increasing, just not as quickly as Windows so it gets swallowed up. We know for a fact Steam is constantly growing and perhaps in markets where Linux isn't popular pushing the Linux share down. However, the opposite could obviously be true too.

I don't claim to have any answers on it. All we can do is speculate, since we know nothing about how Valve actually pick the systems that get selected for a survey. We know nothing about the numbers behind the percentages, or well, anything really.

We do need to take into account people who dual-boot, which isn't going to be a small number. Even our own limited survey shows about 31.78% of people also use Windows.

Obviously it's not good to see this trend, but as long as Linux games sell enough for a developer to be happy, that's the main point. Going by the last time I spoke to multiple developers about sales of their Linux games, most games mentioned in that article were selling well above the current percentage of Linux gamers as tracked by Steam.

I highly doubt Feral Interactive would also be announcing another Linux port, if the real amount of Linux gamers was declining either, since the types of titles they port would likely need a lot of sales to be worth it, yet they have two new titles currently being teased for Linux.

What are your thoughts on this?

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appetrosyan 4 October 2017 at 9:58 pm UTC
tuubi
roothorick
appetrosyanAnd in all fairness, Carmack was right.
QuoteLinux is unsuitable for business. Maybe as a development environment, but not as a target. But if I were to push for games on Linux, I'd focus on such projects as Wine

I've been saying this for a while now.
A lot of what Carmack says about Linux comes from a fundamental (and very common) misunderstanding of what Linux is and what its free and open source nature actually implies. Experts kept saying the same about Linux in the server space for years, and look what happened. Open source software and closed source software simply do not play by the same rules, and their success can't be measured by the same standards. The biggest obstacle Linux has ever faced is nothing technical. It's corporate and cultural inertia.

Can you reasonably expect Profit centric corporations to not make the same mistake.
tuubiWine is a wonderful piece of software, but not a real solution to this particular problem. It provides a means for developers to relatively quickly and painlessly publish ports of their Windows games, or for gamers on other platforms to play them. But that's all it is and will ever be IMHO. Intermediate porting layers and wrappers won't solve the bigger challenges. Gamers won't switch to a different platform just because it's available.

Yes. Let's consider what I'd have to do in order to pitch Linux to a Windows user.

"Hey, switch over to Linux. We have better Ui than Microsoft, you'll never have to worry about Viruses and you practically own the device."

"What about gaming?"

Now consider two scenarios: one with our current state of affairs and one I proposed.
A) "Well, you have some good games, like Deus Ex Mankind divided, but not Human Revolution (the good one), you have almost no complete franchise ports. Everything runs (at best) 5% slower than on Windoows, we only support the most counter-FSF GPU designer (nVidia), all thanks to using a (bad) Winwows wrapper (SDL). We do have Wine, that runs stuff better, but it's not officially supported. And yes, if the game runs on one of the three officially supported native game engines, you should expect Graphical glitches and maybe 2% fewer FPS. No exclusives. In fact, games that do come out, do so weeks after release."

B) "You can run almost any game that you could on Windows. You sometimes have to do some work in order to get decent FPS (about 25% slower on average), but almost everything on DX9 runs as good as on Windows. It uses the exact same files, so should have pretty much the same capabilities. Also Valve have Half Life 3 exclusive to Linux and their console. A couple other exclusive games too".

Wouldn't you agree that the latter case
roothorick 5 October 2017 at 1:47 am UTC
tuubiI don't have any better ideas, I just don't think yours solves anything either. We don't have to support everything Windows does anyway. We just need a decent catalogue of games people actually want to play. Wine or emulators are just fine for playing the oldies.

Wine supporting everything is a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream and will remain so unless and until Windows development halts entirely. But, it can deliver on a catalog of appealing games and close that gap, giving Linux's advantages a fighting chance of mattering. Arguably, it already does, but it's only meaningful if we embrace and promote it instead of sweeping it under the rug like a shameful secret.

QuoteIn any case, the way MS has been going from one bad decision to the next lately, they might just do the work for us and push gamers away at some point. The camel's back will only bend so far before it snaps. Let's just do our part and be ready to welcome the refugees.

I really can't see that benefiting us. At most, they might spark widespread piracy of LTSB; they know full well that one, they'll never stop the piracy train, and two, desecrating LTSB would effectively hand a number of VERY lucrative industries directly to Linux. In fact, angered enthusiasts opting to pirate LTSB is probably part of their plan.

AresoBut gaming it's a niche on Windows and Linux all the same (and, I assume, on MacOS too). Users, who used to Minesweeper, now adopted poor copy of Mahjong. Casual gamers in the company still run games in browser.

Hah. Apple and Google wholesale consumed the casual market years ago. It's not even a consideration anymore.


Last edited by roothorick at 5 October 2017 at 1:52 am UTC
Jan 5 October 2017 at 2:46 pm UTC
Is this really news? The year of the Linux desktop is not happening, SteamOS was not the saviour, Steam Machines are gone and Valve is only treating the platform as a backup plan. Not more, not less.

We all know: As soon as Feral abandons Linux, it‘s the end of AAA ports for Linux. Aspyr‘s gone indie, the big publishers don‘t care at all.

From the bottom of my broken heart I know: It‘s probably the right thing to use Linux, and I hope Feral will give us an amazing Vulkan showcase with Rise of the Tomb Raider. But the state of Linux gaming in 2017 is pretty clear: It‘s an amazing platform for indies and some AA titles.

But as soon as soon as we leave the comfort zone of Unity-powered games, it‘s looking rather grim. Even though Unreal supports Linux we don‘t see many AA titles releasing with day-1 support or announced ports. Maybe middleware is an issue, maybe the developers don‘t see financial viability.

Think of stuff like Snake Pass or Hellblade. Technically, it shouldn‘t be a big burden, but it‘s not happening anyway.

Hats off to Feral for supporting a niche platform, but they couldn‘t survive as a Linux-only porting house. Let‘s not be deluded: The recent net marketshare numbers aren‘t representative. Linux isn‘t bigger on the desktop than macOS.
jens 5 October 2017 at 6:58 pm UTC
JanIs this really news? The year of the Linux desktop is not happening, SteamOS was not the saviour, Steam Machines are gone and Valve is only treating the platform as a backup plan. Not more, not less.

We all know: As soon as Feral abandons Linux, it‘s the end of AAA ports for Linux. Aspyr‘s gone indie, the big publishers don‘t care at all.

From the bottom of my broken heart I know: It‘s probably the right thing to use Linux, and I hope Feral will give us an amazing Vulkan showcase with Rise of the Tomb Raider. But the state of Linux gaming in 2017 is pretty clear: It‘s an amazing platform for indies and some AA titles.

But as soon as soon as we leave the comfort zone of Unity-powered games, it‘s looking rather grim. Even though Unreal supports Linux we don‘t see many AA titles releasing with day-1 support or announced ports. Maybe middleware is an issue, maybe the developers don‘t see financial viability.

Think of stuff like Snake Pass or Hellblade. Technically, it shouldn‘t be a big burden, but it‘s not happening anyway.

Hats off to Feral for supporting a niche platform, but they couldn‘t survive as a Linux-only porting house. Let‘s not be deluded: The recent net marketshare numbers aren‘t representative. Linux isn‘t bigger on the desktop than macOS.

Yes, exactly my feeling. Let's hope we can keep Feral on board and that the few titles they consider Linux worthy are profitable for them.
GoLBuzzkill 5 October 2017 at 7:40 pm UTC
GoL & /r/linux_gaming pick your poison: http://www.visualcapitalist.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/cognitive-bias-infographic.html

---

I just dont get you guys, you have ignored all critical and big problems with Valve, Steam, Linux gaming and Linux games in last 4-5 years and when reality presents the truth you still dont see it. Damn son!
tuubi 5 October 2017 at 8:01 pm UTC
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appetrosyanNow consider two scenarios: one with our current state of affairs and one I proposed.
A) "Well, you have some good games, like Deus Ex Mankind divided, but not Human Revolution (the good one), you have almost no complete franchise ports. Everything runs (at best) 5% slower than on Windoows, we only support the most counter-FSF GPU designer (nVidia), all thanks to using a (bad) Winwows wrapper (SDL). We do have Wine, that runs stuff better, but it's not officially supported. And yes, if the game runs on one of the three officially supported native game engines, you should expect Graphical glitches and maybe 2% fewer FPS. No exclusives. In fact, games that do come out, do so weeks after release."

B) "You can run almost any game that you could on Windows. You sometimes have to do some work in order to get decent FPS (about 25% slower on average), but almost everything on DX9 runs as good as on Windows. It uses the exact same files, so should have pretty much the same capabilities. Also Valve have Half Life 3 exclusive to Linux and their console. A couple other exclusive games too".

Wouldn't you agree that the latter case
No. The first one shows you don't really know what you are talking about, and the second one shows you're not cut out for marketing. I mean "like windows, but slightly worse for gaming" isn't much of a slogan, and not even true. Linux is different, and that's a strength, not a weakness. Also I don't think platform exclusives would be a good idea.


This thread seems to have attracted the gloomiest bunch of killjoys in our community. Cheer up guys. Play a game or something. We're doing just fine.
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