The October 2017 Steam Hardware Survey showed a sudden resurgence in the popularity of Windows 7. Out of nowhere, it beat the Windows 10 to become the most popular OS with nearly two third of gamers using it.
At first glance, it looked like as if gamers were ditching Windows 10 in droves, but we explained this imbalance by the explosive popularity of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in China. Well it turns out we were mostly right.
Steam Hardware Survey Fix
Valve has posted a message above the most recent survey results stating that they were “over-counting” Steam users in Asian cyber-cafes. Since most of those users use lower-specced systems with older OSes installed, this had possibly resulted in a marked drop in Windows 10.
Not only Windows, but the error also affected the CPU and GPU market share. Here’s the full statement from the company explaining the unexpected data that started emerging back in August of last year:
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.
Valve has since deployed a fix, so user count should now be accurate. It appears to be working as the current survey has Windows 10 64-bit back on top at 53%, while Windows 7 64-bit sits in second place at 36%. The numbers are basically flipped from those of the March 2018 survey that indicated 57% of Steam users using Windows 7, followed by 36% on Win10.
Similarly, the fix also adjusted over-inflated Nvidia and Intel’s market shares. With the change in the counting of multi-user systems, entry-level and mid-range graphics cards from Nvidia appear to have lost a significant share of the Steam player base. Meanwhile, AMD has increased its GPU share from 10.8% in March to 14.9% in April.
On CPU side, team red saw a 4.6% increase compared to the last month, all at the expense of Intel’s market share. The results also show a drop of over 8% in the share of quad-core processors, while dual-core and six-core processors make a leap of 5.8% and 1.3% respectively. Again, this change reflects the way that Valve now counts machines in East Asia.