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The results are in for our Microsoft Store vs. Steam poll, and they're surprising

Microsoft Store
Microsoft Store (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • On Saturday, May 1, Windows Central put up a poll asking for PC gaming shopping preferences.
  • The choices were the Microsoft Store, Steam, or either, depending on the situation.
  • The Microsoft Store won by a narrow margin.

Over the weekend, Windows Central hosted a poll asking readers about their thoughts on the Microsoft Store versus Steam topic. It's a trending bit of news lately because Microsoft recently announced it'll be reducing its net sales revenue percentage to 12% for PC game sales on the Microsoft Store, leaving developers with 88%. Meanwhile, Steam continues to take 30%, which raised the question: Will the Microsoft Store or Steam be your go-to PC game store?

As of this post, the poll has netted the following results:

  • "I will buy from the Microsoft Store" received 37.26% of the votes (411 votes total)
  • "I will buy from Steam" received 35.27% of the votes (389 votes total)
  • "I will buy from either store; developer revenue cut doesn't matter to me" received 27.47% of the votes (303 votes total)

So, there you have it. The Microsoft Store won, if only by a very narrow margin. It's a somewhat surprising result, even for a site named Windows Central, given just how dominant Steam is in the PC gaming sphere. The fact that Steam didn't absolutely crush the competition is a bit shocking and potentially a good sign for game developers, who can now rest assured that there is a big audience who may help them make more money via sales revenue on the Microsoft Store.

The comments on the poll post gave great insight as to how people made their voting choices. Many people pointed out that they go with the Microsoft Store simply because of its ties to Xbox Game Pass, which is one of the best values in gaming, while others mentioned the Microsoft Store as their preferred storefront because of Steam's DRM implementation methods. And lots of folks mentioned Steam as their favorite simply because of how much it has to offer consumers in terms of features and benefits, even if it gives less money to developers.

Overall, fascinating results! Keep checking Windows Central for future polls and surveys since we dig hearing opinions of all kinds and are sure to conduct more of these discussion pieces soon.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

22 Comments
  • Its not surprising at all, like the Poll of how happy Windows Phone 8 users were of MS marketing presentation. You got a click, but its not really of any value excluding entertainment value. A more interesting article, would be someone analyzing the articles this site's lack of ability to predict future consumer trends. The polls are a form of living in a bubble, imo. The masses will most likely not ditch Steam for anyone let alone Microsoft, just like iOS users were never going to ditch Apple for Microsoft products. It really is that simple. You guys should be more realistic in your articles, or it just becomes like a tech version of the Onion. (Just my two cents) Maybe an article as too why this site hasn't done enough to protect consumers in regards to all this abandonment. Self reflecting is always a good thing, its okay to be wrong... we all are from time to time. But you never get better unless you decide you have had enough. The poll is evidence that this site is in a bubble and will most likely continue to be wrong with consumer trends, imo.
  • Or perhaps instead of spending so much time in this "bubble" as you call it, your time would be better spent elsewhere, like Android Central or another site that doesn't pertain so much to Microsoft? Because clearly you have some sort of a personal bias against them. There have been so many comments from you with an anti-Microsoft tone. Now, it's okay to have an opinion of course, but when you start taking your option as fact, which you clearly do in every instance in which you comment, that's where there's a clear problem. So maybe this site does need to do a better job at some things. Fine. It's not perfect. We all know this. But you also need to do a better job in sounding less conformist and more like you think for yourself and you're not just spouting off nonsense that you've heard others say or do. Just by your comments, it sounds like you're the one living in the bubble, and your refusal to see Microsoft any differently than say two years ago speaks volumes.
  • Hey, JoshNay, is there anything in particular that you'd like to see us do better on? You mention there's room for improvement on some things. Any feedback you give, I can pass along to the team.
  • Hi Robert! I use to run 1800PocketPC, so I know how difficult it can be to do things and it's very much impossible to make everyone happy. But I'll just point out a couple of things and it's of course up to you whether or not you want to accept the feedback. I know in the past the articles have gotten a little too political. Lately it seems like things have improved which is nice. I know Microsoft can have a heavy hand in politics, and that's fine, but there have been a few times where it seems the political views of this site have been at the forefront too much vs just reporting on the news, political or not. I also notice that the "advert articles" have gone down, which is another big issue I used to have with the site, though Amazon Prime Day is coming up, so we'll see if this has ultimately improved or not. But I feel like adverts take the spotlight vs articles sometimes, when they should really be in the middle somewhere, as part of the content, vs overpowering it. I also used to have complaints about the PWA, but I've been seeing improvements here as well. As long as we're able to continue logging in correctly and comment, everything seems to be fine.
  • Personally, I feel like they should change the name to something like "Gaming Central", since I seem to see a higher percentage of articles about games. I don't care about games. I do care about the Windows platform and how it extends into other platforms, but not games. It's fine to have articles that talk about the Xbox platform and how it interrelates to PCs, Android and Apple devices. I don't care about what new games are coming out, etc.
  • There is a point though. People following Windows Central are going to try out MS products atleast out of curiosity. But its still interesting to see that 35.27% are not ready to trust MS services, Which can scale much higher outside. But the rest of the stuff mentioned in the comment is pure trash.
  • Or the other way around. Isn't it possible that rather people trying Microsoft things would follow Windows Central?
  • Yes, definitely. But either way people here would try Microsoft products out of curiosity.
  • "Now, it's okay to have an opinion of course, but when you start taking your option as fact, which you clearly do in every instance in which you comment, that's where there's a clear problem. " I would say the fact is, their articles are poor indicators of future consumer electronic trends. Of course, there is a sprinkle of generalization in that... meaning they don't exactly say all these MS consumer products will win out. Some of the Jason articles are hilariously bad. Its up to them if they really want to be anything other than the Tech Onion. Maybe being the Tech Onion generates more money? "it sounds like you're the one living in the bubble, and your refusal to see Microsoft any differently than say two years ago speaks volumes." Not sure what you are referring to.... MS has basically gotten rid of almost all of the consumer products. The now revamping of the Store is one of the last thing left. I would say my comments are factual in nature with a sprinkle of obvious observation. Microsoft really just isn't good at this stuff, some might say horrible. - Steam didn't win because of me writing my comments.
    - Apple and Google didn't win mobile because of me writing my comments.
    - Nintendo and Sony didn't win because of me writing my comments.
    - Fitbit and Apple didn't win the watch market because of me writing my comments.
    - Spotify didn't win because of me writing my comments.
    - Cortana didn't win because of me writing my comments.
    etc etc Its just my opinion, that if they were more realistic that this site would be more productive and useful, of course, writing stories about skittle farting unicorns is their choice.
  • A few years ago we said the same about Nokia. MS is huge in Gaming, and not only are they mainstream, but people are changing their view on MS from old dinosaur to cool. My youngest kid (12) and his generation, where I live, have completely different views on MS, and are used to buying stuff from MS store on Xbox. And they are ditching PS all together around here. Only 25yo+ PS fans choose PS now. With more content and a better storefront, I see no reason why ppl should not want to use MS store going forward. You can't measure the future on ppl having experienced W95.
  • I think this site have never been afraid to call MSFT out, if your definition to call them out is to start publishing that MSFT is totally no good, then I'll say you are living in a bubble. "The masses will most likely not ditch Steam for anyone let alone Microsoft, just like iOS users were never going to ditch Apple for Microsoft products. It really is that simple." There was no where you think to even state that the masses are not likely dish MSFT for anyone let alone Steam, just like windows user were never going to ditch MSFT for Apple products.
    Case in point. iOS have 13% market share, Andoid has the rest, On desktop, Windows have ~70%, All Apple Osx have 12% (Don't worry, I know why you did not see that, Bias much and now calling WC to support your bias)
  • "Case in point. iOS have 13% market share, Andoid has the rest, On desktop, Windows have ~70%, All Apple Osx have 12% (Don't worry, I know why you did not see that, Bias much and now calling WC to support your bias)" Yet, you missed the point and actually provided stats that are saying what I am saying. You didn't see people mitigate from Windows to Mac OS, the phones is the same.... I never claimed that Apple had the highest market share. Everyone knows they control less of the mobile but generate huge margins on that market share. Those users were never going to go the WP. Why is Microsoft needed in this equation as a middleman, its not because they are good at it? I mean that has to be #1 question, why? The poll is silly on this site, the market is the poll.
  • Buble or not, it's a fact that I had spent money several times in the Microsoft Store and none on Steam so far. Practically because I haven't spent money on gaming, rather I do for apps.
  • Yeah, but the point is.... that's a meaningless sample (size). It would be like coming to my house 18 months ago and 50% of the household had Windows Phones. Than using that to push some implied market change. LOL
  • I never bought anything from STEAM. I bought few games from MS Store, few from EA Origin. Lots of old school game disks in the past (I am old). I have a STEAM account because I had to use it to redeem a game that came with my graphic card purchase.
  • The advantage of MS store is that the Steam web site is blocked by most (my) work computer networks while MS store and games are not.
  • Your work is allowing you to download games on work equipment? LOL Every single company I have done contract work for remove the Store from the Build since Win10 was released. Pushing software on enterprise has been a thing for 20 years. That actually sounds like a reason why the Store app should be removed from enterprise equipment. LOL
  • Well, no, I don't download (or play) games on work (I.T. controlled) computers, but I can bring one of my own devices from home and download any Windows store app over my work's internet connection. Steam is a web app and my work's internet blocks the Steam web site from opening. If it was a specific MS store app just for games, I'm sure they would remove it, but MS store has all the Windows 10 apps for productive work, and removing it would keep me from doing my job well. Also, even if I have a Steam game downloaded already, you have to be logged into Steam to open it. All I really want to do is use my work's fast internet to download something in 2 hrs instead of 2 days at home (DSL).
  • So.... your work doesn't want you downloading games but they don't specifically black the microsoft store so its okay? LOL My guess is, if they are unhappy and don't want you downloading games from Steam, they probably wouldn't want you doing it from some other source.
  • I'm pretty sure it's the playing of games they really don't like. If they blocked the MS store, then I would have to install (productive) apps from the general internet. That could be a bigger problem to the network.
  • Is it so hard to believe that we actually like the MS Store?
  • How about "I will buy through the Xbox app because the original Microsoft Store app is hot garbage..."? Yeah I'll use MS Store for a Win 10 app, though the web version via Edge is often better, but it's now better getting games in general through Xbox app since it no longer uses MS Store for downloads.