Valve have offered a ‘fix’ for the Steam Hardware Survey in April’s results. The new solution is intended to combat the sudden surge of cyber cafe users that rendered survey results practically obsolete for any useful insight into the market whatsoever in the last seven months.
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The fixes, as outlined by Valve on the Steam Hardware Survey page, largely affect how users and computers are counted within the survey. Previously, systems were limited to only one registry in the survey during a one year period. However, Chinese language cyber cafes were accounted for more than they should have been.
“Around August 2017, we started seeing larger-than-usual movement in certain stats,” Valve says, “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.”
The systematic flaws in the way the survey had functioned was causing huge surges in users and skewing the numbers around seven months ago, which also spelled bad news for AMD, whose hardware was nearly wiped from both the GPU and CPU graphs.
From the April survey these data collection errors will no longer affect the results, which are already starting to show signs of change. However, it must be noted that because the results have not been historically corrected, leaving the last seven months effectively wiped out, it will take some time for the survey to normalise to the changes.
With that in mind, here are the biggest changes to the April 2018 hardware survey after the corrections.
Users fielding AMD GPUs rose from 10.8% to 14.9%, with their main competitor, Nvidia, at 75%. Similar increases of 11.4% to 16% were also recording in the CPU department, with rivals Intel sitting at 84% market share in April. However, neither result has quite managed to sway back to pre-August levels or show any market share gains as of yet - despite the April period covering the successful launch of AMD’s Ryzen 2 chips.
Strangely enough, dual-core CPUs have risen since the April fixes. Despite the changing tide away from even four-core CPUs towards higher core counts - such as Intel’s Coffee Lake and AMD’s Ryzen 2 - some two-core chips are alive and well in gamer’s systems.
While not subject to massive sways since the fixes have been put in place, VR headset ownership has swayed marginally in HTC’s favour - since the Vive Pro release. The HTC Vive has now made up some of the ground it lost to the Oculus Rift over the last few months, now sitting at 45.1% to 47.5%, respectively.
Windows 10 lost the top spot to Windows 7 over the last six months, regaining some ground toward the end of ‘the dark times’. However, in April it has rushed straight back to dominance at 53.1% of the market share versus Windows 7’s 36.2%.
Last but not least, Apple Mac ownership has remained almost entirely unaffected by the reporting errors. Phew.
So that’s the highlights from April’s corrected results. While the Steam Hardware Survey has now been bandaged up, it will still take some time for the results to provide any really informative info on hardware trends - even then, it is best to remain slightly dubious of the results.