I've taken to commenting on Raptr game play stats which I receive from both my account and their public blog. It is something I'm interested in, and it is something that's generated interest in those who read my blog. I fully intend on continuing with those reports even though they have their limitations. For example, only people with a free Raptr account contribute to the Raptr report. I don't for one second maintain this is even a statistically significant sample of all gamers worldwide. In that regard, you can only say the Raptr report shows the preferences of Raptr members - no matter how many of them there are.
When the reports you have are not statistically significant, or somewhat biased (or both,) there is only one way you can deduce anything globally significant from them. You have to start adding more reports to the overall data set. This is what scientist do with subjects such as climate change. From such comparisons, we know about 3% of scientists disagree that climate change is caused by humans. And their reports, no matter how well they follow the scientific principle, are biased to that viewpoint. If you only looked at their reports, you'd deduce we've nothing to be guilty about. Fortunately we've identify their inherent bias, and understand what everyone else is saying - the other 97% of scientists who have a completely different take on what is causing climate change. But even within that sub-set of reports, the direct causes and the ultimate results predicted differ. However, on the whole we know that dumping gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year is not a good thing to do. Our planet does not need terraforming.
Getting back to gaming though, in order to get a better picture of what people play, we need other sources of play time data. One such other is Steam. Steam has a statistics page. If you look under the Store menu you will see the last item labeled Stats. Clicking on it produces a 48 hour running count of concurrent Steam users and the top ten games played in the past 48 hours, expandable to the top 100. It looks like this.
[caption id="attachment_3286" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Steam Stats[/caption]
To the lower left side you see the top ten game count. I don't find it all that surprising Dota 2 tops the list. League of Legends isn't available through Steam. The rest of the list is more telling. The number three game in Steam is the tenth game in Raptr's list. The number four Steam game doesn't even appear on Raptr. Raptr mush not be able to hook it in order to count hours played.
That listing also shows me another interesting fact. Evidently most Raptr members don't record their Steam account with Raptr so Raptr can pull hours from Steam. That surprises me. I could see why Steam members might not go to the lengths necessary to set up Raptr, but Raptr members have already made that time investment, so it wouldn't be much more work to link their Stream account. That makes me wonder if there's another dynamic at play - no pun intended.
Then there is the seventh game on Steams list: Civilization V. There is something totally wrong in that listing, or with Raptr's lack thereof. I know for a fact Raptr tracks Civ5. But the game doesn't even show in Raptr's top 20. Yet Skyrim, which shows in both lists and is below Civ5 on Steam, is recorded in both lists and at a relatively equitable position. That's a true discrepancy in counting algorithms and I have no idea if it's reconcilable. Still, it's never a bad thing to have more data even if the data perplexes you.
But enough of stats that perplex. Let's look at a stat Steam gives that Raptr has yet to live up to. That would be Steam's Hardware and Software Survey stat in the center-right position. Have you ever wondered what the average gamer rig looks like hardware wise? I know I have. Well, Steam is happy to share that information as it pertains to the nearly 7,000,000 people who use Steam. And here it is.
[caption id="attachment_3287" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Steam Hardware and Software Survey June 2014[/caption]
One thing I really like about this report is it doesn't just show the top item in each category. It breaks it all down by percentage. You want to know how your system stacks up against all those other gamers out there? You can now do the comparison. Raptr has nothing like this so far as I've been able to discover. It will show you, and anyone else, your gaming rig hardware, but I've never found a report that consolidates everyone's hardware into pleasant graphs with trends over time.
And the Steam trend over time graphs can really tell you interesting facts. For example, look at the PC Video card usage by mfg graph. There is a really important indicator for the IT field as a whole. Here's the lead in. Intel started making GPUs and integrating them into their motherboards years ago. Their GPUs are focused on low power consumption, but have gotten steadily better as gaming GPUs. So who gets hurt by Intel between Nvidia and ATI? From the graph, it's obvious Intel's increased market share has come at the expense of ATI. Nvidia remains king of the GPUs, and it looks like they'll stay that way for the near future.
I'll leave it up to you to pursue further tidbits of information in these statistics. The screen captures above link to their respective pages. Just click on them and you can drill down into the details of Steam's reports. The hardware tables are especially fascinating. There is nothing quite like seeing market trends in near real-time to get my inner geek all twitterpated. Enjoy!