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Pretty much everyone knows Valve’s hardware survey – it’s a very valuable resource that shows what hardware the typical “hardcore PC gamer” has (that is, gamers that play Valve’s games).

However, the “casual gamer”, which is what Unity games are mostly targeted at, probably has slightly different hardware. “Slightly” being a very relative term of course.

Lo and behold – we have a glimpse into that data.

How? First time the Unity Web Player is installed, it submits anonymous hardware details (details in the EULA). This happens only once, and contains no personally identifiable information. It’s much like visitor statistics trackers on the websites that gather your OS, browser information and whatnot.

We still haven’t prepared nicely laid out, colored and formatted reports into that data that we can share publicly like Valve, but we’re working on that. So in the meantime I’ll share some images without fancy graphs or colors, bear with me.

Remember, all this data is from people who installed Unity Web Player (most likely because they wanted to play some Unity content on the web). Hardware of standalone game players might be different, and hardware of your game’s players might be different as well. The data set is well over a million samples at the moment.

Enough talk, let’s show some pictures.

What operating systems do we have?

This one should be easy to understand.

What Windows versions are out there?

We should know OS X versions as well, right? Hey, Leopard already took over Tiger!

Hmm, looks like 64 bit Windows haven’t really taken off yet…

Enough about OS, what about CPU?

Poor Transmeta… :) (for the record, that’s 43 Transmeta CPUs)

Multicore CPUs are taking off (well, at least dual core ones).

Graphics card?

Capabilities of the graphics cards.

The capabilities are not as bad (certainly better than I expected). I mean, about 70% of them support shader model 2.0 or higher!

What is is troubling is the 3.7% that run in OpenGL 1.1 software mode… That means they don’t have graphics drivers installed or have disabled hardware acceleration. This is just crazy, I mean, without the drivers, even dragging windows around is horribly slow… how people even use the computer this way?

Another interesting point is that DirectX 8.0 level hardware (GeForce 3/4Ti) is pretty much dead. I guess that’s because there never was an entry-level graphics card from that range (before there was GeForce 4MX, which is DX7 level, and it was followed by GeForce FX 5200, which is DX9 level).

However, the above was technical capabilities of the graphics cards. Let’s take a look at which cards are out there:

Uh-oh. Can you say “low end”? The first decent card here is GeForce 8600, 15th on the list. Everything above – slow, slow, slow. Some horribly slow. Well, that’s casual gamer…

Here’s a rough performance indicator, graphics card fillrate in gigapixels/second:

For the record, fillrate of GeForce 8600 is 4.3 GP/s, Radeon X1600 is 2 GP/s, Radeon HD 2600 is 2.8 GP/s, and Intel 945 (GMA 950) is 1.6 GP/s. The difference from high-end to low-end in video memory bandwidth is even larger.

On a somewhat unrelated note, here’s DirectX 10 card distribution:

DirectX 10 can only be used starting with Windows Vista, and on DX10 capable graphics card. So that’s 2.6% of the Unity web game players – still not a very significant amount.

In conclusion

So here was the glimpse. We’ll prepare more and nicer reports into the hardware data sometime soon. Stay tuned!

Edit: it’s live –

22 replies on “Hardware of the casual gamer”

We would like to thank you again for the stunning ideas you gave Janet when preparing her post-graduate research and also, most importantly, with regard to providing every one of the ideas in one blog post. In case we had known of your web-site a year ago, we will have been rescued from the pointless measures we were choosing. Thanks to you.

Intel 945 is really good card. I still can play too many games with it. These are really super statistics.

How about CPU speeds & RAM? Any data on that? Them’s probably the most important statistics of the lot… Thanks!

Can you please tell the sample size for this? How many users were sampled for the survey please (This is one of the nice things about the Valve survey too – ie. They tell you the sample size).

@Sulka: first off, hey man! :) Second, our primary interest is to gather information about graphics capabilities and so we’ll stick with that for now (we’ll look at what other information is appropriate to gather in the future).

Please please please include the total installed RAM and free RAM counts here too. That’d be _very_ interesting. And hey, why not the size and free space available on the hard drives too.

It’s missing some important bits: CPU type & speed, and the available RAM. In Flash my bottleneck is raw CPU power (rastering vectors, transforming images, blending alpha channels, physics & AI calculations.

Nice information dudes. Thanks for sharing, continually sharing quarterly like flash penetration rates would be great as well :). Having this information is extremely valuable to making good games on your platform.

Hi Aras,

wow, thanks for sharing that info!!! I think the layout is definitely “good enough” for the purpose. Just recently, I came across Google Charts API. If you have the data in a database that could somehow be accessed from your Web server, you might consider using this to put up some “online reports”. The Charts API is kind of trivial to use – but of course, I don’t know about the backend efforts that would be needed ;-)

That said: OMG, graphics cards models is truly shocking… hm… looks like “optimization time” is ripe ;-)

Sunny regards,

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