Steam Proves Gamers Still Prefer Windows

Steam Proves Gamers Still Prefer Windows

Posted Saturday January 5, 2013 at 12:41:10 pm in Technology

Steam recently released their latest hardware survey, and its results are obvious but still interesting.

Gabe Newell is famous for a lot of things, but more recently he's famous for this little ditty:

Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space.

Now, Gabe has certainly eaten crow in the past with his predictions and statements. I wrote about it recently here in my 40 Million Windows 8 Licenses Since Launch entry back on November 27th, 2012. But what makes the following statistics more interesting is how they not only relate to Gabe's comments but also the age ole argument that:

Gamers prefer Windows over OS/X

So, let's first get to the stats. Valve recently released their hardware survey for December 2012. This hardware survey shows each operating system with its percentage and its increase or decrease from the previous month (in this case November 2012).

December 2012 Steam Hardware Survey

Source: Neowin, Image Source: Steam

What you'll see from the chart for Windows are a few things:

  • Windows 8 (64 bit and 32 bit combined) accounts for 6.93% of users (up 2.24% from November 2012)
  • Windows Vista just edges out 8 with 6.96% users (down 1.11% from last month)
  • Windows 7 has a stranglehold of 70.47% (down 2.09%)
  • Windows XP has 10.44% (down 0.39%)

If you tally the above results, Windows represents 94.8% of users surveyed on Steam. This is actually down about 1.35% from the previous month. What you'll notice from the OS/X side of things:

  • Each OS version has increased aside from 10.7.4
  • 3.72% of users are using some version of OS/X, which is actually a 0.46% increase from last month

As for Ubuntu, this is the first month for Linux Ubuntu users where are actually participating in an open beta test. This number is going to be small and will continue to grow. FWIW, Ubuntu accounts  for about 0.80 of users.

What does all this say? Well some very obvious things: Windows (like the desktop PC market) dominates the number of users. But it also paints an interesting picture. If you follow Net Applications desktop operating system marketshare, it has  the following breakdown (as of December 2012):

  • Windows - 91.58%
  • OS/X - 7.05%
  • Linux - 1.19%
  • Other - 0.18%

To further breakdown Windows:

  • Windows 7 - 45.11%
  • Windows XP - 39.08%
  • Windows Vista - 5.67%
  • Windows 8 - 1.72%

Let's compare these numbers to Steam's. Steam's numbers will be listed first, Net Applications second.*

  • 94.8% of users versus 91.58% for Windows as a whole
  • 3.72% of users versus 7.05% for OS/X as a whole
  • 70.47% of users versus 45.11% for Windows 7
  • 10.44% of users versus 39.08% for Windows XP
  • 6.93% of users versus 1.72% for Windows 8

What does this tell me? Well, that Steam users are early adopters. About 4 times t he number of Windows 8 users. Nearly 4 times LESS the number of XP users. Roughly 1.5 the number of Windows 7 users. 

It also tells me that the age old saying of

Gamers prefer Windows over OS/X

...still rings true. More Windows users (comparatively) are using their machines for Steam than OS/X users. Just so you can see:

  • 94.8% versus 91.58% for Windows
  • 3.72% versus 7.05% for OS/X

OS/X accounts for 2 times less their overall numbers, whereas Windows accounts for about 3% more. The OS/X number really stands out. 

Unfortunately since we're working off of very limited data for Linux (it's an open beta, but still just a beta and just started this past month), conclusions really can't be drawn. But it's interesting to use Steam as a barometer for gamers on each particular operating system.

*I fully understand that the numbers from each service (Steam, Net Applications) is not 100% accurate. So the above is simply a musing based on the statistical data provided to us (and usually accepted by the industry).


The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer’s view