What you need to know
- Linux use on Steam's hardware survey has spiked after the Steam Deck introduction.
- Now sits at 1%, a rough estimate of about 1.2 million users.
- Windows is still the runaway leader, but Linux isn't that far behind Mac.
Steam hardware surveys always make for fun reading, especially in recent times seeing how many of those scalped graphics cards actually made it into gaming PCs. But right now there's a more interesting milestone to look at. Thanks to the folks at GamingonLinux who keep a close watch on such things, Linux use on Steam has spiked in recent weeks.
It now accounts for 1% of all Steam users, or, doing rough maths based on 120 million people earlier this year, about 1.2 million Steam players are on Linux. This still absolutely pales in comparison with Windows, as you would expect. But of the 0.11% increase in share Linux has seen recently, 0.08% of that came from Windows, with the rest coming from Mac.
Why does any of this matter? The timing is perfect to coincide with Valve's reveal of the Steam Deck, a handheld gaming PC that will run SteamOS, aka, Linux. That could of course be a massive coincidence, but it wouldn't be ridiculous to think that some folks have decided to give Linux and Steam's Proton a whirl ahead of getting a Steam Deck later this year.
Valve will be doing as best it can to make the Steam Deck a pick-up-and-play experience, but Proton is still not an exact science. Four months (hopefully) out from the first Steam Deck hardware shipping, there's plenty of time to load up Linux on a PC and see how your favorite games fare under Proton. For anyone not familiar with it at all, it's actually a reasonably smart idea.
Whether this spike holds true or goes up further once the Steam Deck starts shipping, only time will tell. But with the Mac on 2.5% share, it's quite possible that a day will come where Apple's incredible gaming computers find themselves in third place. More games work on Proton than on MacOS, so even for Mac-owning gamers, having a Linux install makes an amount of sense.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine