Valve Survey – New Results Available

By John Walker on November 14th, 2007 at 11:02 am.

Valve have released the latest user survey data, which records the specs of the machines, and software on those machines, belonging to the people playing their games.

Feel small yet?

If you’ve used Steam, you’ll know that every now and then you’re asked to participate in the survey (and if you’re me, which I am, you’ll know that for some reason it always fails to send). All that data is collated into their constantly updating results page, where you can go, “Coo, are people really still trying to use machines with 128MB RAM?” And then laugh about how superior your machine is, until noticing that 3.95% of people have quadcore, and feeling rubbish again.

You can view the latest figures here, and compare them to the May to August figures here. Below are some of the more interesting changes.

It should be noted that the previous survey results are based on the responses of over a million users, while the latest survey has only collated around 20,000, so it’s possible that anomolies are still present.

The most remarkable leap would have to be RAM. The Spring/Summer results show that a tiny proportion of people had 2GB or more RAM, just 0.43%. Now, a whopping 47.8% are in the top field for memory.

The numbers of people using dual-core are also on the hefty rise. Six months ago those with two processors were in the distinct minority, amongst 24.14% of gamers, compared to 75.36% with just the one. A weeny 0.5% were using four. Now the 2x are really catching up, with 42.23% compared to single cores at 53.82%. Quaddies are bringing up the rear with 3.95%, and as yet the 45 people in the previous survey who had an insane eight processors have yet to respond.

NVidia’s 8800 graphics card is dominating, with 12.97% of players reporting it inside their machines, the 7700 coming second with 7.77%. ATI’s first appearance is with the Radeon X1950 is in 8th place, with 3.44%.

Probably unsurprisingly, but depressingly for all developers who have to field support queries, for both ATI and NVidia the majority of responses show their graphics card drivers to be at least two months out of date. A deeply worrying 1.05% of ATI users, and 1.02% of NVidia users, report using graphics drivers from 2004.

Vista has shown a small increase in representation, but clearly nowhere near where Microsoft would have desperately hoped. Previously 7.99% of gamers were using the latest operating system. Now it’s 16.91%, with a vast 81.13% sticking with XP. Rather confirming Valve’s position on DX10, and what a massive waste of time it is developing for Vista only.

All these numbers will likely have shifted slightly by the time you read this, as the results are constantly updating. Cheers to PrimoTech for the heads-up.

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47 Comments »

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  1. Eschatos says:

    Sad, I’ve gone from top of the line to just above average.

  2. Cigol says:

    You should note that simply having VISTA installed doesn’t mean DirectX10 capability. You need to have a DirectX10 capable graphics card to go with that operating system as well. Not everyone using VISTA will have this luxury.

  3. martin t. says:

    sadly, the steam survey does not include an option to tell valve that you run their games using wine (or i did miss that). it would be interesting to see which marketshare the linux/wine platform has and how it does develope.

  4. Cargo Cult says:

    I shall feed my iMac to the survey when I get home later!

    (Does anyone know if it checks multiple machines, or just once per Steam account? There’s me MacBook Pro too…)

  5. Piratepete says:

    muhahahahaha, my slightly above average PC will pwn you all.

    (or maybe not)

    DX10 is a bit of a damp squib at the moment, one of the games I was really looking forward to was World in Conflict, but it plays like a scappy dawg on my brand new PC.

    Mind you I have yet to have a PC on which I can play Stalker. Why? I don’t know.

  6. Sam says:

    As mentioned above, it’s worth pointing out that the number of people who can actually use DX10 is only 9.17%, which implies that one in three Vista owners hasn’t bothered to buy a modern graphics card to go with it.

    In addition, the driver age statistics might be slightly skewed by Linux users – Wine (for non-Linux people – the software one needs to use to get Windows games to work in Linux) currently reports its “windows driver” version as some variant of 6.14.11, regardless of how new your drivers really are. This may also be responsible for small skews in other results.

  7. Stuart White says:

    RE Vista: The figures make sense to me. The only people who have Vista will be people who have bought a new computer since February or those who have deliberately upgraded. These two will make up a certain part of that 16.91% but, given the rarity of both, it’s not a surprising figure.

    This is then compounded by the fact that XP has bedded in over 5 years and Valve’s games tend not to be that demanding on our PCs. If something is required then its a RAM upgrade or new graphics card, but rarely a new operating system. Again, not surprising really.

  8. Stuart White says:

    PS i have Vista but no DX10 graphics card. With minimal difference, and few DX10 games yet whats the need? It is on my Xmas list though.

  9. Sam says:

    Well, more importantly, perhaps: …with minimal difference, but measurable performance hits…

    I’ve not seen a benchmark yet where DX10 mode didn’t mean “knock off at least 10% FPS”, even on chunky high-end cards.

  10. Stuart White says:

    Agreed, but i dont really think £200 or more is worth only 10% performance, let alone only in FPS.

    I definitely shall upgrade, but it’s not an absolute must have at the moment. Having said that, Crysis just came out.

  11. Sam says:

    Crysis, interestingly, is actually one of those games which suffers performance hits in DX10 mode… (according to the tweaking guide “fake Very High Quality mode” (via config tweaks to enable it in DX9) gains significant performance vs DX10 Very High quality, while looking nigh-identical.)
    Of course, this requires you to possess a DX9 card with the raw power needed for the game in the first place… (or, I suppose, to not own Vista, which is my personal approach).

  12. derFeef says:

    Either its a mistake or its a little bit weird. 16:9 Displays? Widescreen PC Monitors are 16:10 – does that mean that most of the widescreen users have plasma/LCD/… TVs? Rich bastards….

  13. Theory says:

    The memory leap has to be an anomaly. More people with 2GB+ have responded in this survey already than did for the ENTIRE duration of the last one!

  14. Nick says:

    New players from the orange box/hl2 gifts? People actually bothering to fill it in this time maybe?

  15. MedO says:

    (shamelessly distributes his machine specs all over his post)

    I completely switched to using a Laptop a year ago, when I bought my current machine, and don’t even own a Desktop PC anymore. Some people I know did the same, because a laptop is just more practical, especially when you are a CS student. However, most laptops just don’t have the raw power of their desktop conterparts of course, and I hope many of the games to come out soon will still be playable by people like me (with lower settings of course), since I don’t want to buy a new notebook every year.

    The main problem with my setup, and I think that’s true for many notebooks, is not graphics (GeForce Go 7600), but CPU power (Core2Duo at 1.60Ghz). Looking at Valve’s survey, this the one point where my machine is far behind. And in most games I know, you can turn down the graphics a lot, but there are few options that would reduce required CPU power.

    Also, for the RAM anomaly, I think memory prices dropped a lot in the last months. Even I have installed 2GiB now because it was so dang cheap.

  16. Bob Arctor says:

    The old drivers may be people with old graphics cards like the GF4xxxs, I find with my Gf4200 some games have glitches unless you run older drivers.

  17. Chris R says:

    How does one participate in the survey? Do I have to be logged into Steam and click on something?

  18. Theory says:

    You need to get the latest update. It’ll happen on its own eventually, or you can hurry it along from the File menu.

  19. Chris R says:

    Gotcha, thanks.

  20. Stevedroid says:

    Isn’t it a little too early to be drawing conclusions? Since the survey was reset, there’s only been 20,000 samples, which is nothing compared to the over 1 million samples from the last round.

    You can’t really claim there was a massive increase in memory and dual cores among users when the current sample set is less than 2% of the previous sample set.

    It seems likely that the first responses to the survey would be the hardcore gamers who have Steam on all the time and therefore the people more likely to have high end systems. You really shouldn’t be making conclusions on the results until we get up around 100,000 samples.

    Nice dubious reporting there.

  21. Jim Rossignol says:

    John’s article *is* filled with qualified statements in that regard, Stevedroid.

  22. Cigol says:

    Memory has gotten progressively cheaper that now you can get a gig for about ten quid – the leap in memory (assuming it stands up to further polling) isn’t exactly surprising and is something that has been predicted for a while.

  23. Lou says:

    “DX10 is a bit of a damp squib at the moment, one of the games I was really looking forward to was World in Conflict, but it plays like a scappy dawg on my brand new PC.

    Mind you I have yet to have a PC on which I can play Stalker. Why? I don’t know.”

    That sounds a bit like there’s something not quite right with your PC – both World in Conflict and Stalker ran perfectly fine on my old single-core Athlon with a 7600 GT, and I’ve even played Stalker (without dynamic lighting, though), on an Athlon 2400 with an Nvidia 5xxx card. Hohum. :)

    Weak PSU causing your graphics card to throttle down, maybe?

  24. sofiaa says:

    […]If they can afford to sell a laptop for this cheap….how great are the graphics and games going to be?[…]