Steam's December Numbers Point To A Lower Linux Marketshare But With More Oddities

Written by Michael Larabel in Valve on 12 January 2020 at 07:49 AM EST. 49 Comments
I refrained from writing about Valve's Steam Survey numbers at the start of January when they were posted for December as the numbers didn't seem up to scratch. But half-way through the month now, the same numbers are up with no edits by Valve, as we've seen in some months when they refine their measurements.

For December 2019, the Steam Survey shows the Linux gaming marketshare slipping by 0.14% down to 0.67%. That's quite a large slip, but keep in mind this is in percentage terms and not the absolute number of gamers. This slip is quite a surprise since the Steam Linux gaming marketshare has been quite steady for the past many months thanks in large part to Steam Play in allowing many Windows games to run gracefully on Linux.

A 0.14% is significant given the tiny Linux gaming base, but could well be almost a rounding error given the size of Steam's user-base. But increasing the likelihood of inaccuracies of the survey is Valve reporting for December 2019 that the Windows 7 64-bit marketshare went up by 14% while Windows 10 dropped by 13%.... Either the Steam version detection failed miserably or something else is awry. Windows 7 is finally being EOL'ed by Microsoft and no clear explanation why there would be a large swing in Windows 7 users at the last moment. We could believe the 0.14% decline for Linux as it's possible many more Windows users fired up their Steam client in December in order to take advantage of Christmas sales on Valve's platform, but seeing this Windows 7 jump instills less confidence in the monthly figures. So we've been waiting two weeks to see if that got ironed out in the Steam Survey, but as of this weekend this reported 14% increase for Windows 7 is still showing.

Long story short, the Steam Survey numbers look increasingly less reliable though the Linux gaming marketshare still appears to be around the 1% mark or less. Those wanting to poke at the December numbers can find them here.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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