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After initially showing the decrease as an increase, it seems Valve have now corrected the Steam Hardware Survey results for October 2018.

Originally, it showed as a 0.05% increase even though the figure in October 2018 for Linux is 0.72% compared to September's 0.78% so it's a decrease of 0.06% for people to argue over. This is after Valve fixed a rounding error for small distributions that they reported on October 4th. Keep in mind, they may adjust this figure again like they have a few times.

As a reminder, we have a dedicated page tracking various details including the reported Linux market share on Steam.

It's worth noting, again, that Steam is always growing. As an example of this, Valve reported in April 2018 that they had 43 million daily active users. However, Valve did a presentation back at the Melbourne Games Week last month where they reported that daily active figure to now be 47 million. So, between April and October they had an increase of 4 million daily active users. They're also now up to 90 million monthly active users, which is 23 million more than last year (source).

To give you some fun data points:

  • Linux daily active users around: 338,400.
  • Linux monthly active users around: 648,000.

The amount of growth Valve is getting is pretty incredible really. They don't seem to have given out a new total active amount of users for a while, but considering their growth it seems like it could be quite a lot compared to the 125 million figure they gave out back in 2015.

So do keep in mind, that while the share is lower overall, the figure it actually represents in terms of actual Linux users is quite likely to be still growing but being outpaced by new Windows users on Steam at the same time. I imagine it's going to take a lot for our growth to ever outpace Windows and push the reported share higher to a point where it's notable. Hopefully when Steam Play matures it might help, but it's far too early to tell.

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41 comments
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jardon 4 November 2018 at 5:58 pm UTC
I remember 7 years ago when I was in China I was super stoked talking with students over there. One of the friends that I made was into computers and I was talking with him about Linux and why I thought it was better. But when I said it was free he scoffed and said that they don't pay for windows anyways. I think in many Asian countries piracy is a commonplace. I mean seriously you could walk around to shops and buy pirated movies, games, and software. You could go to shops and buy counterfeit hardware from businesses. Things that would get you arrested and sued in a matter of minutes in North America. So maybe the key to getting Asian on board for Linux is actually Microsoft making their activation DRM harder to crack?

KimyrielleI don't understand why not more people are switching to Linux
I don't think that even having 90% of games is enough. One of my good friends and co-worker switched to Linux a couple of months ago. He's been pretty happy getting by with a Lutris and Steam to play most things. But he was telling me the other day that he was gonna go back to Windows cause he wants to play the new call of duty. I think that's the problem. Linux NEEDS the must-have titles to be considered viable as a gaming OS. Sure Valve is on board with that but they're about it. A lot of studios don't care or don't even make good ports. And let's not forget Bethesda, Blizzard, Activision, and EA that are mostly just greedy companies that want to save 30% at the customers expense. Sure Lutris helps but not always and probably not on launch day.

We need more than just Valve. Sure if they had actually succeeded with a steam machine (gd if they had just subsidised a $400 steam machine with good specs, done an E3 event, and had exlusives we wouldn't be having this discussion) we'd have Linux hardware out of the box and in people's hands. If they can't get them on the shelves at Walmart and have good enough advertising then we need another tech company to come help make the push.
silmeth 4 November 2018 at 6:21 pm UTC
jardonSo maybe the key to getting Asian on board for Linux is actually Microsoft making their activation DRM harder to crack?

The problem is – Microsoft doesn’t want to. They mostly earn their money from companies who cannot risk using bootleg software and they know that the best way to make companies to use their software, including their OS, is to keep it familiar – if every employee knows Windows, and every management person knows Windows, then company will buy Windows. So it is in their interest to keep everybody using Windows, even if whole populations of large countries pirate it and MS doesn’t get a penny from individual users. MS knows that and they won’t really fight it, Windows piracy is their best marketing.
devnull 4 November 2018 at 9:58 pm UTC
Still no hardware survey.. been over a year. The comment abve about being in Beta is interesting since I'm using it 99% of the time (both VR and Steam). There was a point (two years ago?) where the survey crashed the client, that I remember. Think it was the same bug hitting system info.

Valve if you're reading this, what I WOULD like to see are hats (or badges) if you're running Linux, Proton or VR. It would be free advertising and maybe encourage more people to try it if they see other players in the game are. Entirely optional of course.
Comandante Ñoñardo 4 November 2018 at 10:31 pm UTC
KimyrielleI get that I am biased, but I don't understand why not more people are switching to Linux, which seems to be the better choice for almost everyone these days. Do people resent change really THAT much that they stick with an inferior OS when they could have a better one for free, and all they'd need to do is investing a day or two in getting used to it?

We, The humans, are animals of habits... A LOT of people (millions) started their computer life in the 90's with a Windows (3.1, 95, 98, NT, 2000, Millenium) PC... And that people inherited thier computer habits to their children.
Plus, even now Linux is still difficult to use and configure: things must work out of the box without any console commands needed and without dependencies hunting, without having to configure PPA's and without sudo this or sudo that.

And, We have the "distros" issue:
Meanwhile there are just three Windows distros that must be supported by game developers in the present (Seven, eight and 10), Linux has A LOT of distros and is a headache for the developers to support all of them.

I agree with jardon, Linux NEEDS the must-have titles to be considered viable as a gaming OS.
Even with the fast evolution of Proton, most of the Call of Duty games just don't work, and THEY MUST WORK OUT OF THE BOX if We want to see more people Gaming On Linux.
Dedale 4 November 2018 at 10:51 pm UTC
Game studios have zero need to support all distros. A few popular ones is good enough. And using Linux is IMHO easier than doing equivalent stuff on windows. My mother uses Linux. She struggles a bit less with it than she used to with her windows at work.

If a more advanced user kvetches about a CLI, then it is indeed a matter of habit. But knowing how many Windows users have started with exactly a CLI, i do not believe it is a real obstacle. Their CLI was called DOS and was much more uncomfortable to use. And they did put up with it.

The fact that the average user gets his computer with win already installed has probably more weight. That and as mentioned the bigger library of popular software, the cheap gadgets that do not work with Linux, etc..

The corporate culture "It's in a box with a logo on it so it must be serious" must play a non trivial role too.

So i think the tactic "Let's make popular win games work on Linux " will probably help.
Nezchan 5 November 2018 at 2:22 am UTC
DedaleGame studios have zero need to support all distros. A few popular ones is good enough. And using Linux is IMHO easier than doing equivalent stuff on windows. My mother uses Linux. She struggles a bit less with it than she used to with her windows at work.

If a more advanced user kvetches about a CLI, then it is indeed a matter of habit. But knowing how many Windows users have started with exactly a CLI, i do not believe it is a real obstacle. Their CLI was called DOS and was much more uncomfortable to use. And they did put up with it.

The fact that the average user gets his computer with win already installed has probably more weight. That and as mentioned the bigger library of popular software, the cheap gadgets that do not work with Linux, etc..

The corporate culture "It's in a box with a logo on it so it must be serious" must play a non trivial role too.

So i think the tactic "Let's make popular win games work on Linux " will probably help.

While I agree with your last couple of points, I'm going to disagree with your points about CLI. Unless you can make it possible to have a good user experience without ever opening a terminal -- and the more user-friendly distros are almost there -- it will absolutely alienate a lot of potential users if we're going to get widespread adoption.

The command line screams "nerd hobbyist", not regular user. Whether that's a fair assessment or not, I'm not getting into that, but for someone stumbling across Linux when they're used to Macs or Windows 7/8/10? That's how they'll see it. And who was using DOS back when you couldn't get away from it? Remember, computers weren't nearly as ubiquitous at that time. It was people who had to use it for work...and people who were "into computers". Which is to say, nerd hobbyists. By the time computers were ubiquitous, we were using Windows 95, not 3.1.

I think the more effort that can be made in streamlining the experience for people who don't want to dig under the hood, while retaining the option for people who do, will lower a big barrier on widespread adoption and reduce the stigma that Linux is "too difficult" for the average person. And, as you said, being able to run Windows games would help a lot getting to that point.
devnull 5 November 2018 at 8:00 am UTC
"supporting a distro", is doing it wrong. Some of the bugs in linux games are purely compile issues or they didn't set unity up properly. Applications are a different matter as they can be tied to other MS tech like Sharepoint or MSSQL.

As for usability, that goes both ways. I don't use Windows, haven't for a long time. I'm completely lost when it comes to Windows 10. Sure I can find things but in the same way one coming to Linux would. No one seems to complain about that in Windows though.

I've tried using macs.. The interface is just godawful for someone used to a shell. Given the money people throw at apple hardware I wonder if they are more in awe at using such over priced crap or purely at the "experience".
danniello 5 November 2018 at 12:19 pm UTC
KimyrielleI find it interesting that even in a world where Windows 10 tends to draw criticism even in mainstream user circles for taking away control from the user, forced updates that break something else every single time, spying on users at an unprecedented scale, and a myriad of other things, we STILL don't manage to match Windows growth.
You are talking about Windows PC "power users" (users that have much more IT knowledge than "average user"). It is minority itself. I have no idea how many of Windows Steam users are "power users" but I guess that less than 10%. Of course it is many millions users more than Linux have, but it doesn't change the fact that it is minority. Rest of them - probably do not care even what is the name and version of the system. Windows was when they bought laptop/PC. They are not IT enthusiasts - in the best case they are PC gaming enthusiasts. Many of them are reading gaming portals, probably many of them also have console. They do not care about open-source - they do not know even that something like this exists. If you start talking about it - they will say: "Booooring... Sorry, but I want play games. Any game. I do not want to wonder with questions like: will that new AAA game start in Linux out-of-the-box? Or maybe via Steam Proton? Or maybe via wine-staging beta? Will OriginStore/UplayStore work on Linux? IT politics/wars/etc. - I'm not interested. FBI/CIA/Microsoft could spy my Win10? So what? I'm already spied by them via Chrome, Android/iOS, Facebook/WhatsApp/Messenger and... Steam). In another words: I do not care."

So why at least Windows PC "power users" do not migrate (or migrate but not many of them)? Maybe because they are more "game enthusiasts". Migrate doesn't make sense - all games that could be played on Linux - could be also played on Windows (and much more titles plus with better performance). Windows is some sort supported by game developers. There are many problems, but if not developer - community almost always will find solution (like convert Max Payne sound files to be compatible with newer system than WinXP). Except Feral and other "big" porters - other Linux games many times are not supported even by developer. In fact many ports has been abandoned. It is even worse than no port at all - most of these games probably would be working OK via Steam Proton. Steam Proton itself is great, but supported by Valve only. That is the reason why game enthusiasts with proper knowledge are not migrating massively to Linux.

Situation could change only if someone "big" will start selling PC/consoles with Linux. With marketing and real support, not some sort of crap that Asus for example was selling in the past. When it will happen - game developers will consider to start real support of it (like it was with beginning of Steam Machines initiative).

Valve is probably too small to do it alone. But there is a hope. Valve is not a charity company. OK, probably these several open-source developers that Valve hired is not "very big investment", but anyway they would not do that if there was no "bigger plan". They know that Linux as today, even with Steam Proton, is not real alternative for Windows, so why bother? There need to be some plan of expansion... It has to be...

Anyway, some big changes are coming. For example Steam Chat already is much different than rest of Steam client. But it is "Valve time" so who knows how many years we need to wait for more...
Comandante Ñoñardo 5 November 2018 at 3:28 pm UTC
DedaleIf a more advanced user kvetches about a CLI, then it is indeed a matter of habit. But knowing how many Windows users have started with exactly a CLI, i do not believe it is a real obstacle. Their CLI was called DOS and was much more uncomfortable to use. And they did put up with it.

I always was a nerd hobbyist.
My first true contact with computers was in 1996, with an MS-DOS tutorial in a PC with black and white monitor.. It was THE ONLY thing available then...
Then, I moved to another place for a tutorial of GUI Windows 3.1 and MS-Works using a 486 DX2 PC with a color monitor (I discovered Wolf3d in that machine, by the way)
Once I used Windows 95 in my first computer, in March 23 of 1998, I fell in love of that simple and intuitive GUI...

I know CLI very well, that is why I hate it so much...
Believe me. No Windows (power or regular) user want to use a CLI command. Distro Developers must solve that if they want to attract windows users.

Example:
Install drivers and software in Windows is easy: Just download the file from where ever you want and run it, in Linux is not that simple and that must be solved as soon as possible by Distro developers-

Take a look at GOG. They support Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.04, but instead of using .deb files, they use .sh files that can not run on GUI by default...
If Distro Developers want to attract average Windows users, They have to make it SIMPLE.. including the process of playing a popular videogame.

C'mon Valve! You can do it..
Ardje 6 November 2018 at 4:49 pm UTC
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To be clear guys, after so many years of running steam, I finally got my first hardware survey. And the results were wrong... :-(
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