Windows 8 is a video game industry failure according to Valve and the NPD Group


Windows 8 hasn’t been the hit with consumers that Microsoft was hoping it would be, at least not yet. In the video game industry, it has been the abject failure game developers like Valve’s Gabe Newell said it would be even though some of Valve’s customers have already adopted the new operating system. About 237,600 of them based on data from the company’s latest survey of Steam users.

Valve compiles a monthly overview of Steam’s membership through a voluntary, optional survey of its users. It breaks down what PC technology Steam users are running the client and games on, covering everything from video cards, graphics processors, operating systems, etc. Based on the latest survey, 0.44 percent of Steam users are running Windows 8. With 54 million active users on Steam, you get 237,600 Windows 8 users on Steam provided that Valve’s data is consistent across all its users. It’s likely not, but it’s a reasonable estimation.

The short version: Windows 8 is definitively not a hit with PC gamers, even if some of them upgraded to the new OS. It isn’t just Steam that proves Microsoft’s bid to win the Apple audience isn’t connecting with video game players. The NPD Group reported that Windows PC game sales crumpled in the month after Windows 8’s release, shrinking by 21 percent between Oct. 21 and Nov. 17 compared to the same month the previous year.

“It hasn’t made the market any worse, but it hasn’t stimulated things either,” said the NPD’s Stephen Baker, “It hasn’t provided the impetus to sales everybody hoped for.”

Even Microsoft’s own partners are badmouthing the OS. “Demand for Windows 8 is not that good right now,” said David Chang, the CFO of PC maker Asus.

Video game developers have been opposed to Windows 8 since Microsoft first announced the operating system, because it was an attempt to make PCs a closed platform rigidly controlled by Microsoft. If you wanted to make a PC game and sell it through the Windows 8 store, you had to abide by Microsoft’s approval process and store rules, much like on Apple platforms. Independent apps can be purchased and run on Windows 8, but the process would not be as open as on past Windows platforms.

Windows 8 isn’t actually the least used operating system amongst Steam users, though. That distinction belongs to Apple’s OS X 10.7.4.

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