Steam data suggests gamers are ditching Windows 10, but there’s another explanation

There is an interesting trend happening on Steam. A look at its hardware and software survey indicates a massive drop in Windows 10 usage—it is down more than 18 percent in the month of October, while Windows 7 jumped 22.45 percent. The two OSes effectively swapped places, with nearly two thirds of Steam gamers now using Windows 7, and just over a quarter of gamers rocking Windows 10. Are gamers ditching Windows 10 in droves? Should Microsoft be concerned?

The answer to that is, 'probably not.' At first glance, it appears there is a mass exodus from Windows 10, which could occur if something catastrophic happened, like the discovery of a major vulnerability like Windows has never seen before. But that hasn't happened. The much more likely explanation is that PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds' popularity in China is the reason why the two OSes traded spots.

While the numbers above look frightening for Microsoft, especially with its renewed focus on PC gaming with Windows 10, a look at the language stats reveals what is almost certainly happening. Simplified Chinese shot up nearly 27 percent in October. It now consists of more than half of the user base, while English dropped 13.4 percent in the same month, landing at 21.24 percent.

Bluehole has sold more than 13 million copies of PUBG globally, with growing interest from Chinese gamers. China, which has reportedly considered banning PUBG, represents the game's biggest region by player population (though it's probably safe for now). We've also previously reported on review bombing, and how the influx of Chinese players on Steam are creating an influential new contingent.

Our guess is the massive drop in share for Windows 10 on Steam is largely a reflection of geographical trends. It's possible that some users have also downgraded from Windows 10 to Windows 7, but the bulk of that OS shift is down to PUBG's insane growth in China.