Steam Hardware Survey July '09: Windows XP in strong decline
8/18/2009 by: Theo Valich
Just like World of Warcraft, Steam is a juggernaut in the world of PC gaming. What started as an online authorization system for Half-Life 2 became the world's largest PC game distributer, having direct access to more than 20 million gamers.
But what makes Steam unique is the fact that this distribution system comes with hardware survey that collects data on user hardware and runs a public update every month. Compare that to analyst firms that collect thousands of dollars from various publishers that send the system requirements to game developers. In Survey for July 2009, the largest surprise is the share among operating systems.
Operating systems: Windows XP decline, Windows 7 on the rise
Gamers are known as tough cookies when it comes to OS adoption, but in a matter of one month, 32-bit Windows XP declined by 2.67%, e.g. more than half a million gamers abandoned Windows XP as their gaming platform. WinXP is still the dominating platform with overall 55.04% share, but the largest winners are 64-bit operating systems - 64-bit Vista took around 250,000 new users [11.68% overall], while 64-bit version of Windows 7 are now being used by almost a million gamers [1.03% Month-on-Month growth, 4.20% overall share]. Windows 7 is seeing large adoption trend, even though the operating system isn't even on the store shelves. We'll keep a close track on the adoption of this operating system, bringing DirectX 11 API into the frame.
If you're a software developer that is only beginning to develop its title with release in 2010 or 2011, it might be good to consider developing a 64-bit version since as of July 2009 - 64-bit OS is the platform of choice for 17.18% of all Steam users [+2.31% compared to June'09].
CPU Wars: AMD cedes 150.000 gamers to Intel
When it comes to hardware as the weapon of choice, Intel has 67.98% of the market, with AMD covering 32.01%. What's important to know is that between June and July, AMD lost 0.67% of Steam users, handing them to Intel. Dual-core processors take 55.99% of the market, e.g. more than 11 million users - but the dual-core share is on the decline. Big winner is naturally quad-core processor with 1.49% MoM growth [17.77% overall share]. What's interesting to see is that a lot of Steam users abandoned 8-core Skulltrail platform. It looks like power consumption of that beast wasn't exactly fit to Steam users, since the share of Skulltrail dropped from more than 80,000 users to mere 12,000 [0.06% overall share].
GPU Wars: ATI Radeon 4800 is at rage
Looking at graphic cards, nVidia has 65.38% of all Steam users, while ATI covers 27.26%. During July, 1.72% of all users upgraded to DirectX 10 compliant hardware, mostly ditching their old DirectX 9.0c graphics cards such as GeForce 6/7 and Radeon X800/1K series. Biggest winner in GPU wars is ATI Radeon 4800 series, taking around 160,000 new users [0.77% MoM growth, 7.23% overall].
When it comes to available memory, 35.75% of all users have 2GB of system memory [1.19% decline], followed by 3GB [1.17% MoM growth, 27.33% overall] and 1GB [1.26% loss, 16.35% overall]. Extrapolating these numbers, we can see that majority of new upgrades either feature 4 or 6GB of memory, limited by operating system [3.25GB is usually the maximum 32-bit OS can see]. Moving on to GPUs, vast majority of video cards feature 512MB [0.46% MoM growth, 38.69% overall], but 896MB [0.56% growth, 3.19% overall] and 1024MB [1.19% growth, 9.63%] are making steady progress. We estimate that next month, share of graphics cards with more than 1GB of video memory will surpass 10-12%, given the Back-To-School shopping bonanza.
Display Resolution: Widescreen takes the helm!
Looking at video resolutions, 22" and 23" displays are at large, with 1680x1050 resolution taking another 0.57% MoM growth [18.27% overall]. On the other hand, current leader, 17-19" LCDs and their 1280x1024 are dropping like stones, losing 0.74% of all users in just one month [21.70% overall].
But what makes display resolution figures interesting, is the fact that for the first time, widescreen displays [16:9, 16:10] make up for more than 50% of all Steam users. As of July 2009, 50.39% of all users use widescreen display, a massive 2.11% growth since June 2009.
In conclusion, the market is making a firm shift to 64-bit operating systems, Windows 7 adoption is beyond expectation and hardware-wise - users are going four core, 4-6GB of system memory and most importantly, they want to play games using widescreen resolutions.
We hope that game developers will take the lead and take these numbers into considerations.
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