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The share of Linux users on Steam is still holding steady

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Another month goes by and Valve have released their Steam Hardware Survey. It shows a drop in Linux marketshare, but it's not as bad as people claim.

I actually stopped talking about this for a while until recently as not much changes. When I see people linking to articles with a title like this:
"Steam Linux Usage Saw A Notable Decline For June 2017"
I can't help but attempt to clear it up.

To be clear, there is no feud between GOL and Phoronix, but I do take issue with, to be blunt, clickbait headlines like that. A large amount of his reporting is generally quite accurate. However, headlines like that and the text of the article too saying it's a "relatively large decline" just aren't right.

Linux marketshare on Steam dropped by 0.09% for last month. That is not a notable decline, it's so low it could be within the margin of error. We don't know what their sample size is though, so the error margin is not clear. It might look like more than it is because our overall share is obviously a lot lower than where Windows is currently. This could also be from variations in the sampling each month.

The main thing: We're talking sub-1% changes here. If there was a notable decrease in Linux gamers on Steam, the decrease in the overall percentage would be a lot sharper.

It can be a simple case of Windows growth in certain markets outpacing Linux growth. That doesn't suddenly mean Linux has any kind of notable decline in use. Linux is likely growing too, just not as fast.

You can claim the Linux survey doesn't come up often enough, but that's just how sampling works.

You can argue booting into your Windows dual-boot partition suddenly makes it appear and claim it's wrong. Of course it would pop up then though, that's it seeing a change in your system. So you are likely to see a survey.

The numbers in the Valve survey are very close to what I constantly see from developers when talking in public (and more often in private) about their sales numbers.

We're strong enough for hundreds of indie titles each month, Feral Interactive, Aspyr Media & Virtual Programming all still port some of the bigger titles to Linux. It's going well all things considered.

Everything's fine. Keep calm and carry on, basically. Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Editorial, Steam
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rkfg 2 Jul, 2017
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HOWEVER, if you look at the desktop market share numbers, you'll see Linux having the biggest share ever, 2.36%.
Ralkkai 2 Jul, 2017
It's hard to take the hardware survey numbers seriously when you never get those Steam surveys. I had one this year and that was in like February or March.
Jahimself 2 Jul, 2017
It's quite weird, I took the survey two days ago and it showed me a 0.81% with a small increase on linux and windows 7 64.


Last edited by Jahimself on 2 July 2017 at 1:00 pm UTC
Liam Dawe 2 Jul, 2017
Quoting: JahimselfIt's quite weird, I took the survey two days ago and it showed me a 0.81% with a small increase on linux and windows 7 64.
Two days ago would have still been the May numbers.
Nanobang 2 Jul, 2017
As luck would have it, I recently switched back to Ubuntu Gnome. The very first time I logged into Steam on the fresh install and --- BANG!! Steam Survey!!

Dreams really do come true! :D
ageres 2 Jul, 2017
It's summer sale, and thousands of cheaters (who are Windows users, of course) are buying dozens of CSGO copies each, so this affects overall percentage. Also, Steam got popularity in Asia, where very few people uses Linux (~0.1%), so if there are 17M of Chinese on Steam, that means +17k of new Linux users and +16,983,000 of Windows users. I don't pay attention to Steam stats. I prefer absolute values, not relative percentage.


Last edited by ageres on 2 July 2017 at 1:57 pm UTC
Avehicle7887 2 Jul, 2017
Another thing to consider is that plenty of people don't use Steam, taking myself for example, I buy games only from GOG on a regular basis. Taking this into consideration, the number of Linux gamers is higher than one might think.
ertuqueque 2 Jul, 2017
It is indeed quite annoying the clickbait tendency of Phoronix title articles... not to mention the absolutely unjustified "Capitalization Of Every Word In His News Titles". People don't seem to understand that this stupid habit just creates confusion when reading it!

Anyway, I agree with @rkfg's comment that according to Netmarketshare's update, Linux has reached an "all time high" market share... I check every month their updates and I take this increase as very likely due to last months WannaCry and Petya's attacks to the Windows ecosystem. I think it's realistic to think that some Windows users and/or institutions would dip their toes in Linux over the past few weeks to see if they do the switch... Maybe some of them actually did.
Ketil 2 Jul, 2017
Quoting: Avehicle7887Another thing to consider is that plenty of people don't use Steam, taking myself for example, I buy games only from GOG on a regular basis. Taking this into consideration, the number of Linux gamers is higher than one might think.
There also exist windows and mac gamers who don't use steam, and I am not sure that the share of gamers not using steam are higher on linux than windows or mac. Part of the reason is that linux gamers has fewer online stores to choose from.

So yes, there are linux gamers who won't be measured in the steam survey, but there also are windows and mac gamers who won't be measured.
Aimela 2 Jul, 2017
Quoting: NanobangAs luck would have it, I recently switched back to Ubuntu Gnome. The very first time I logged into Steam on the fresh install and --- BANG!! Steam Survey!!

Dreams really do come true! :D
Meanwhile, after not getting the survey in a very long time, it pops up when I decide to install Steam in Wine. The hardware survey sure is a fickle thing.
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