I don't keep Steam active all the time and though I do have some games on it, I can't remember the last time I played one of them. So, it's essentially missing my data.
Well if you don't regularly game on Steam then the point of your input is rather useless for statistics. It's like GM taking a survey on who has both a Chevy and Ford in his garage. If the Chevy is parked more than the Ford, does that mean the Chevy is not used? If one is not an active Steam gamer, then said individual's input, with all due respect, is irrelevant. People in the marketing business know this well.
Assuming Steam's data in July 2017 was accurate, this chart outlines the changes over the previous seven months:
Given the success of Ryzen, the 3.46% reduction in systems with AMD processors seems questionable. Steam doesn't share much public information about its survey methodologies, such as how many systems it queries per year or the percentage of laptops and desktop PCs, so we can’t use these numbers as a direct comparison of AMD's penetration into gaming rigs.
While they might have potentially addressed the issue of systems in Chinese net cafes getting counted more times than intended, the overall demographic of users running Steam has still changed. There is still a notable increase in the number of users running Steam in that country compared to before.
According to the current survey, 30.35% of systems participating in the survey have their language set to Simplified Chinese. That's half the percentage reported a couple months back, but still nearly double what it was in the July 2017 survey, when it was at 16.64%. Likewise, the percentage of systems running Windows 7 64 bit is still getting reported as being higher than it was in July of last year. The results might not be getting thrown off quite as much by net cafes, but they are still affected by a change in demographic.
This should highlight the fact that these Steam surveys should not be taken as a precise measurement of hardware trends, since the pool of systems taking part in the survey can change from one month to the next. In this case, Steam's growth expanded in China, and since net cafes are a popular way to play games there, the results came to reflect the hardware being run in Chinese net cafes more than anything. These kinds of variances will continue to occur as Steam gains popularity in various countries, and since hardware can vary by country, that can potentially skew the numbers. Many of the results can still be considered useful for various purposes, but there are too many variables getting shifted around in the background to treat them as anything more than rough estimates covering an ever-changing international user-base. Perhaps if Steam provided additional filtering options, such as limiting results to various countries, the results might more accurately depict trends within those regions, but they have not provided that option as of yet.
Unless steam track if you actually play games on the systems the survey is kind of useless. I have 4 machines with Intel CPUs but only one is used to play.
Well they're not going to be surveyed if they don't have Steam installed. But if you DO have it installed but you don't game much on that device, it's hard to correct for. For example, I have Steam installed on a couple of machines but only one of them runs any demanding games. The other one (older laptop) only runs the occasional lightweight game. I certainly wouldn't submit the specs of the laptop, it's a clunker. But where do you draw the line? What if someone plays some casual games here and there on such a low-spec device? Are their results even relevant? I'd personally say no, not really... their result might as well say "dual core toaster oven" but it fits your definition as a valid survey target.
The bottom line is anyone who views Steam survey results as a measure of gaming PCs need to reconsider. It's a lot less useful dataset than people have been lead to believe.
The decrease in AMD CPUs may be accurate, but skewed by the shear number of "old" systems running steam.
Example: say all old systems get scrapped when they are exactly 10 years old. If AMD's market share was higher 10 years ago than it is today, then even though AMD's market share is may be increasing today, the total number of systems with AMD CPUs running steam will still go down.
Example: say it's much more likely that old systems with AMD CPUs either get scrapped or re-purposed for non-gaming compared to old Intel systems which continue to be use for steam.
Still, it's just hypothetical. I'd be more inclined to believe it's due to there being a much higher number of laptops sold compared to desktops and a much higher number of laptops having Intel CPUs compared to AMD CPUs.
Again, we are not talking about a professional scientific managed poll here. It's not a controlled polling environment. It's on a volunteer only basis. Regarding older AMD processors and whatnot, nobody is playing current Steam AAA title games on them so from my viewpoint, that is also worthless data. What I want to know is a snapshot of user hardware who are active on Steam gameplay (or GOG, or the other game portals for that matter).
We will never have perfect data captures because as mentioned above, you have people who are Steam account users who have old hardware that can't handle modern titles. Then you have Steam users who are retro gamers and play 10+ year old titles on top of that. From my seat, the only valuable information would be to poll the games the users are playing and their hardware. You can't play Far Cry 5 on an Intel Core 2 Duo E8300 running a GTX 275 at 1080p. Or at the very least, separate modern vs. old hardware and see what resolutions and games they are playing at.
For now, what Steam has is the best snapshot overall. Can it be improved upon? Of course it can. Oh and speaking of 1080p resolution, it's still the plurality of monitor resolutions that gamers are playing with. By far.
Participation is optional so we need to know what percentage of total steam users are part of the survey. They could just give an option to enter CPU/GPU and OS info to make that portion more useful.
I can see why users hesitate to allow access, it's bad enough that MS tracks things like how many apps/programs installed added or removed etc.
The survey also has hardware identification issues. For example, I have a mini-ITX system that was classified as a laptop. Since you can't correct it manually, I wonder how many other data points were from incorrectly identified components.
DDR4 prices (way too high) and GPU prices (way too high) are still the largest reason for people not willing to upgrade their systems from DDR3 based systems so Ryzen doesn't mean crap until BOTH of those come down at the same time.