Are PC users feeling the slow death of their games platform ?

I was reading an article about the amount of ugly, useless stuff there is in Windows on The Verge. Near the end of the article, there was one number, used to reinforce the idea that Windows was dominant: Windows has 70% of the computer market. Wait, what? Only 70%? Not anything higher? Not the 90%+ I assumed Windows has always maintained. Then I went and looked at multiple sources. They all more or less say the same thing: Windows is the OS for 70 to 80% of computers (desktops, laptops, and their ilk) that people worldwide regularly use.

This is shockingly low, if you keep in mind it does not include servers, phones, iPad and its copycat tablets, and game consoles.

I’m highlighting this reality in the hope I get a conversation going on the extraordinarily poor health Windows is in. It’s dying a slow death and everyone thinks it’s still ascendent. On this forum, we’re all game players, where I frankly believe Windows has its strongest moat. But if Windows dips below 60%, things can get real weird real fast for video games.

As a PC user who plays games on Windows, can you feel what I’m seeing ?

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What other OSs are there, apart from Mac and Linux? I don’t see them growing particularly, as one is too expensive and the other is too impractical for regular people. Anyway, I have no love for Windows in particular, and I’m sure any PC OS that hopes to compete with it will have to ensure compatibility with Windows software in one way or another, so I don’t see what there is to be worried about. Windows is fucking annoying in so many ways so I hope they do feel threatened.

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You’re doing exactly what I’m decrying. You’re being dismissive that the market share of Windows is diminishing. But it is! Sure the competition is not big, but it’s steadily growing. Around 16% of computer users are on macOS, worldwide. That’s a lot of people for something too expensive. And Apple’s share has been growing for a decade! At the same time, Linux is anemic, but its numbers are also growing, and ChromeOS is climbing as well. Windows cannot reverse that trend right now. It’s been a decade of decay.

And the annoyances will not diminish due to the reduced market share. They’re a reaction to it.

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I’m not! I’m just saying Mac or Linux cannot hope to overtake them unless they fundamentally change their platforms, because their limitations make them a hard no for a lot of people. People will not suddenly be able to afford overpriced non-modular computers or become hackers (exaggeration) just to switch OS.

As for Windows, I hope they get better or go down because their product sucks. I do not care about Windows as a company or as a brand (lol), only about what it allows me to do. If another company does it better, -and there is a lot of space for them to do so- then I will be happy to switch.

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Not really. Gamers represent a very small fraction of the market for any operating system. The majority of computer use almost certainly occurs in professional contexts - schools, businesses, libraries, government institutions, etc. - and they tend to need very significant pushes to justify the expense that abandoning the technology they’re already using would entail.

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What would be weird? I’m kinda tired of windows. It’s annoying to use. Valve uses Linux for steam os on the steam deck and while it doesn’t run every game rn I think it at least shows alternatives are possible. GOG packages old games wrapped in an emulator that could be setup to run on other OSes. Unreal and unity can run on other OSes too. What are the downsides?

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I last used Windows seriously in 2013, when I started working in software and moved to macOS. I’ve since moved from macOS to Linux (NixOS, in particular). When I built my first gaming PC last year I decided to dual-boot NixOS and Windows, because I assumed gaming on Linux would be a pain, but I’m increasingly noticing that the games I’m playing have Linux support in some form.

Obviously the Steam Deck has been a huge driver of this, with Valve seemingly funding a whole bunch of gaming on Linux open source work in order to make the vast majority of Steam games people care about work more-or-less flawlessly.

I actually don’t think we’re too far away from someone building a gaming-and-productivity focused Linux distro that “just works” for a lot of common use cases, which could take a bunch of market share from gaming folks who only use Windows because it’s the path of least resistance…

If I was working at Microsoft (which thankfully I’m not and - unexpected acquisitions aside - never will) I’d definitely be sounding the alarm about this in some form or another, but I suspect Windows is too big a ship to majorly change course at this point anyway, so whatever happens is gonna happen.

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I’m bad at computers, have no idea how they work or why, and have windows just because that’s “the default”, and even I’m getting annoyed with it fwiw

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I guess my question is, why? If MacOS’ marketshare grows, maybe we see some more indie games ported, but the cost of a Mac is already comical, the cost of a Mac that can actually run AAA games? I don’t see that getting low enough to ever demand a response from the games industry.

That leaves Linux, which like, God I hope I live to see the day where Linux takes over the desktop market from Microsoft. The ridiculous things I’ve heard about Windows 11 make me think my days with Windows are numbered. I love WSL2 and it’s made me stop duel booting, but Linux gaming is getting better every year and at this point if Windows is insisting on becoming an adware filled, AI filled, cloud based mess like it seems to be, I’m more than happy to just use Linux for my PC gaming needs. I spent a good part of my teens and twenties doing so and compatibility has only improved since then.

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I’ve also been considering switching to Linux, but the culture around it now feels strangely equivalent to the culture around PC gaming in general 10+ years ago. Which is to say, slightly impenetrable and slightly elitist. Every time I start working up the courage to jump ship I see some posts from Linux users clearly more coding-literate than me talking about what seems to be fundamental aspects about the OS that I simply can’t follow. Linux-using friends have assured me that it doesn’t require such a deep understanding for basic users, but it sure seems like everyone who uses it has a base level of knowledge I just don’t have and am not ready to invest the time into. That plus so much of my work relies on Windows-specific software and plugins. I’m not exactly sure where or how PC gaming started feeling more accessible to laypeople (was it just the rise of certain YouTubers?) but I think whatever happened there needs to happen here before people like me feel ready to switch over.

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I doubt Windows is at risk, particularly when it comes to gaming. The 70/30 split is roughly in line with the 70/30 split in mobile phones (70 Android, 30 everyone else—mostly iOS), and as far as I know those numbers have been pretty steady for phones for some time now

Both macOS and Linux are platforms for specific needs that aren’t necessarily fit for wide adoption in the same way that Windows is. MacOS is for people who have iPhones and visual artistry, and Linux is for coding enthusiasts and the like. Both are significantly less plug-and-play for games than a Windows PC is

While both platforms could over time become more accessible to a broader public (and they certainly have more users than they did even 10 years ago), they’d still have to overcome a lot of Windows’ inertia and, in the case of Linux, deal with some rather thorny barriers to entry

I wouldn’t be surprised to see that 70/30 split stay relatively stable for a good long while

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Linux is definitely a pretty steep learning curve and even basic users these days have to get real familiar with their computer’s bios and changing boot orders and such just to get it installed. Figuring out drivers and compatibility is often a royal pain in the ass. I don’t think desktop Linux is ever going to be a threat to PC gaming, but I can see a world where dedicated pre built Linux gaming setups a la the Steamdeck take a good chunk of the PC gaming pie

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We’re already in the zone of a 70/30 split, and ChromeOS in particular is not stopping, it’s accelerating. I don’t see how it could stop. I bet we’re looking at a 65/35 split in five to ten years, with Microsoft doing even more desperate shenanigans to keep making more money every quarter out of a dying platform.

ChromeOS seems more likely to cut into the 30% share that Mac and Linux have than the Windows slice to me, unless it starts seeing wide-spread adoption in professional contexts and the like in the next 5 years. That seems unlikely to me unless Google starts locking things like their office software behind ChromeOS (instead of allowing it in browser windows like they do now)

Besides, it’s Google: they’re far more likely to abandon ChromeOS before it gains any real traction than they are to stick with it long enough that it could become a threat to Windows of all things

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I’m not worried about games leaving the platform but Windows does seem crustier than ever. I felt like I had minimal problems on it from like 2012-2020 and lately my not too old computer just feels like it barely works half the time. I dunno what’s up!

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I suspect that most issues with a consumer facing Dell like prebuilt are just drivers. Installation can be made easier, default software can be made easier, you can even write a little tutorial for first time users. All that stuff is fine. It’s the drivers for every piece of hardware under the sun that’ll keep Windows kicking. I can’t even imagine what connecting a printer to your average Linux box is like these days. Or any days. It was bad a decade ago and it’s probably still bad.

Given that drivers are mostly written by the people who make the hardware for the OSes they expect their users to use, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation without a stopgap of someone rolling up to be The Driver Guy for a decade. And hey, Valve made games work so maybe it could happen!

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I’ve been a heavy Windows user for most of my life. Honestly, I think even if Windows is dying, gaming will be the last thing to go. People are so deeply entrenched on Windows as a gaming platform. There is already so much software built to run on it, getting people to move away will be tough.

Personally, I would welcome it. I have been eagerly watching the development of Proton and considering moving over to an entirely Linux-based desktop for several years now. Sadly, while Proton is amazing, a lot of stuff is still lacking - particularly modern features like DLSS, RT, that rely on good driver support.

PCs are used for such a broad spectrum of reasons. I generally think the rise of Mac use is because there are more professionals working in Mac dominated spaces - video editing, development, etc. Mac is a very popular choice among these demographics.

ChromeOS - have you used it? It sucks. It’s not a replacement for a “real” OS, it’s more like a way to slap a keyboard on a tablet. People are buying this because they want a cheap way to watch Netflix or YouTube or whatever, and OEMs can build super cheap, low-spec laptops without having to pay Windows licensing fees to meet that demand.

I think this stuff is all essentially irrelevant for gaming. Proton is making great strides and there are of course a handful of enthusiasts using it outside of the obvious Steam Deck install base on their gaming PCs, but generally gaming PCs run Windows. That needle has barely moved. I mean look at the latest Steam hardware survey:

March 2024 Steam Hardware: OS Version

96.67% Windows.

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I’m all in on the operating systems scene getting weird. Windows has been feeling like layers on layers on layers on windows 98 SE on layers, etc for a while now.

I had my linux youth and I like diping into OSX from time to time. Variery is good.

(Also I don’t play on PC and really dislike it, so sorry for bringing caos to your daily game habitat)

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I don’t know enough about OSes to contribute much to the discussion here, but, if Windows could fuckin sort out how janky it is to do elementary and/or increasingly necessary feeling shit like change display resolution, switch between full screen and windowed stuff or just sorting out how window priority or focus works or whatever you’d call it, and/or displaying HDR and 4K resolution content, I’d have very few complaints.

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Windows really is just pretty unusable these days and getting worse. I don’t really look at its market share falling as anything but a positive.

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