AMD's hardware – especially its processors – seem to be on a roll, but every month the Steam Hardware Survey, which publishes data on the type of hardware PC gamers using Steam are running, suggests AMD is failing to catch up with Intel and Nvidia – and AMD thinks it knows why.
In a recent interview for Hot Hardware, AMD’s Scott Herkelman suggests that a bug introduced in August 2017 caused AMD systems be underestimated – and he suggests the problem is still affecting results.
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The error involves Steam counting every individual login at internet cafes (which are particularly popular in Asian countries) as separate PC configurations. So, if 10 people log into Steam on a single Intel-powered PC at an internet café – and opts in to the Steam Hardware Survey – then the survey will count it as 10 separate machines.
With AMD hardware not as widely used in internet cafes, Herkelman claims that this has resulted in AMD’s hardware popularity being under represented compared to its competitors.
This could explain why AMD seems to be doing so well recently – especially with its processor – yet recent Steam Hardware Surveys don’t show a corresponding growth in AMD adoption.
The survey says…
It seems that while Valve – the company behind Steam – has made some tweaks to fix this, according to Herkelman: “they did change their algorithm a little bit, but they really aren’t motivated to go in and change this… because the purpose of their data is not for market share.”
While many people – including us – use the Steam Hardware Survey as a useful guide on what hardware is popular with PC gamers, the main aim of the survey is to – in Herkelman’s words – “show general trends to game developers”.
Although the Steam Hardware Survey doesn’t give us a 100% accurate view of the market, without getting concrete numbers from AMD, Intel and Nvidia, it still remains a useful tool.
However, it’s worrying how much AMD’s market share is underrepresented, and how Valve seems to not worry about how accurate its survey is. Hopefully Valve continues to tweak the accuracy of its hardware surveys – not just for us, but for developers as well.
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