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Well this sure is interesting, Valve have announced some flaws in their Steam Hardware Survey that caused cyber cafes to over-count users.

Here's what Valve said in full:

The latest Steam Hardware Survey incorporates a number of fixes that address over counting of cyber cafe customers that occurred during the prior seven months.

Historically, the survey used a client-side method to ensure that systems were counted only once per year, in order to provide an accurate picture of the entire Steam user population. It turns out, however, that many cyber cafes manage their hardware in a way that was causing their customers to be over counted.

Around August 2017, we started seeing larger-than-usual movement in certain stats, notably an increase in Windows 7 usage, an increase in quad-core CPU usage, as well as changes in CPU and GPU market share. This period also saw a large increase in the use of Simplified Chinese. All of these coincided with an increase in Steam usage in cyber cafes in Asia, whose customers were being over counted in the survey.

It took us some time to root-cause the problem and deploy a fix, but we are confident that, as of April 2018, the Steam Hardware Survey is no longer over counting users.

It's good to see Valve be open about this and get it fixed, as many people suspected issues for a while now and it's interesting to see some validation of certain theories about cyber cafe use. The funny thing is, someone mentioned this to me on reddit today and I didn't actually think it would have been such a big issue, so it's fun to be wrong.

It's also interesting to note, that according to what Valve said, you're only supposed to be counted once a year, although many of us have seen an issue where it will come up many times within Windows or while using Steam with Wine and rarely on the native Linux client. For all we know, this could have been part of the issue that's now solved.

We will be tracking it on our dedicated page. It certainly will be interesting to see what happens in future. What are your thoughts?

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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14 3 May 2018 at 11:14 pm UTC
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QuoteIt turns out, however, that many cyber cafes manage their hardware in a way that was causing their customers to be over counted.
Deep Freeze?
Liam Dawe 3 May 2018 at 11:16 pm UTC
14
QuoteIt turns out, however, that many cyber cafes manage their hardware in a way that was causing their customers to be over counted.
Deep Freeze?
Who knows what, possibly repeated Windows key changes due to piracy, repeated re-installs? Could have been a mix of many things.
tonR 3 May 2018 at 11:38 pm UTC
No shit. Cyber cafes (CC) still very big thing in Asia. Most of gamers went to CC to socialize with friends (including me sometimes) even do majority of their rigs at home are much powerful than what's available on CC. Some people I know gaming on console, so if they want to play PC games, they'll come to CC.

Sadly in my hometown. Some legit CC nowadays being 'sold' and become illegal slot machine gambling place. Hell, some town council starting to loose regulation on CC to combat illegal gambling. When I was secondary school, it's technically illegal for under 18 to enter. Nowadays, over-12 are allowed to enter as long outside school hours and before 11 PM. Also, todays CC also no longer had (or less) cigarette smells and much brighter ambience than 10-15 years ago.

Back to topic. At least Valve aware about the situation. With PUBG popularity starting to decline and rise of Fortnite (well, in my hometown), hwsurvey maybe starting normalise again. For linux gaming, probably increase in constant rate.

BTW, it's interesting to look on future of Linux gaming in eyes of Valve.
gnanini 3 May 2018 at 11:41 pm UTC
It stopped now. Few months ago every survey there were on steam, my steam on wine was asked. I don't remember if I was ever counted on linux! I remember posting this on this website, I don't remember people reaction!

I never thought about cybercafes, because I don't use them.

I believe counting people that actually log in, play and buy games is more accurate than measure total subscribed users, or eventually some windows users!
Comandante Ñoñardo 3 May 2018 at 11:53 pm UTC
Cyber Cafes!!???

hahaha!!

That's so 90's!

And yeah, I remember Deep Freeze in Windows 98 machines...
What a nightmare!
tonR 3 May 2018 at 11:53 pm UTC
liamdawe
14
QuoteIt turns out, however, that many cyber cafes manage their hardware in a way that was causing their customers to be over counted.
Deep Freeze?
Who knows what, possibly repeated Windows key changes due to piracy, repeated re-installs? Could have been a mix of many things.
No, actually most CC formatting their computers every month (sometimes every week or day) to ensure no cheating hack residue on their computers. Cheating gamers (both adult and kids) sometimes installed the hack to easy win, troll their friend etc. Instead of searching the hack one-by-one, most owners just wipe out and installed new. Some CC using harddrive-less computer, boot via LAN. (I don't know how to explained it correctly)

I don't know about China, but here in Malaysia, most CC buys their license in bulk (and cheaper also) instead of pirating because no one wants authorities having more excuses to raid your businesses.
g000h 4 May 2018 at 12:00 am UTC
I've suspected inaccuracies in the Steam counts, for a long time. One other Windows versus other OS thing that I've noticed is the fact that Steam auto-starts on Windows when you log on to Windows. With my Linux desktops, Steam only logs on, when I launch the client myself.

For a while, I've been looking at the statistics of Humble Bundle purchasers, where you can check total number of Bundle purchases and the percentage of purchases by platform. You can take into account multiple Bundle statistics and even combine all the results for a given month, to give an overall view of purchases by platform. Doing these stats, the Linux share is more rosy than the Linux share on Steam. (Of course, different Bundles have different percentage of Linux games in them, so you need to take that into account too.)

Although not exclusively measuring Linux gamers, NetMarketShare is showing close to 2% Linux market share (and 88% Windows, 9% Mac). Not much change in those stats over the past year.
Smellymangames 4 May 2018 at 12:40 am UTC
Cyper cafes are still big here in Taiwan too. It is Traditional Chinese and not Simplified Chinese, but still adding to the discrepancy.
Cyba.Cowboy 4 May 2018 at 12:59 am UTC
Meanwhile, it's now been a couple of years since any of the Linux-based computers in our household have been counted in the Hardware Survey... But that's not a bug, and it all works "as designed".
Purple Library Guy 4 May 2018 at 1:06 am UTC
So, since everyone here seems to agree (and that's also what I've heard) that cyber-cafes are very big in Asia, would that mean the recent surge in Asian Steam usage has been overstated?


Last edited by Purple Library Guy at 4 May 2018 at 1:17 am UTC
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