Flight Sim World released in early access on May 18th 2017. As I did with Xplane 11 before it, I will take a peek into publicly available data to see how well the game is doing a month after its release. Now it’s only fair to remind everyone we are talking about a game in early access. So these numbers are subject to change even more dramatically than normal full released game. Some may even say it’s not fair to do this yet since the game is still in Early Access. Well my response to that is the same stance I have on reviewing Early Access games. Whats out now is all your guaranteed to get. Times change and shit happens so the future is never guaranteed. Plus I firmly believe once you start charging money for something, you are officially selling a product. You will be judged as such! And I don’t show mercy with this so let’s take a look.
But before we do, Please read the article like this that focused on X Plane 11. I will looking at both FSX and X Plane 11 to see how they have changed. I summarize how they looked a month ago, but if you want a more detailed version then read the article linked above.
So once again I will be using SteamDB to get these numbers and images. Unlike with X-Plane and FSX however; With Flight Sim World we know the numbers should account for all, or atleast most of the sales. I’m not sure if people who got FSW from the Dovetail store, or won it through a contest will show up. I think they should as they would have received Steam keys. But none the less keep that in mind.
Flight Simulator X
While we’re here looking at numbers we may aswell look at how things have changed for the other simulators over the course of a month. You can find a more indepth details of how they were previously by reading the article here. I’m going to look at how things have changed. As before I’m getting these numbers on the weekend. That seems to be the best time to get it as that’s usually when the highest numbers are reported.
As you may recall FSX had a very impressive display given its age and reputation. An incredibly recent Peak Player Count occurring in January of 2017. There was also 85,800 Players in a 2 week period which is 10% of the total number of owners. Over 802,000 people own FSX on Steam. Another important thing to note was the trend on the graphs. It was nothing but up for almost 2 years, and the reviews were mostly positive to. This is how things were a month ago.
Now how have they changed? At first glance it doesn’t seem like much has. Total players in 2 weeks has dropped off some. But not by much all things considered. Interestingly number of owners and players has continued to climb at a steady rate. More than 10,000 in just a month. It looks like FSX is still selling, and by no small amount. Thats pretty impressive. Players Every Day does show signs of dropping however. No surprise given that P3D V4 and X Plane 11 have both released along with Flight Sim World. But it’s not a rapid decrease, Steady but not fast. So it seems FSX will be around for some time yet.
X Plane 11 was much less impressive than FSX was last time we looked at this. The difference between the two was so dramatic that X-Plane is not even in the same ball park. However note that since this is only the Steam sales, and there is probably more people using X-Plane’s non-Steam version. Laminar Research did create a hell of an incentive to buy the non steam version.
Last month X-Plane 11 had over 13,000 owners, and 9200 players in a 2 week period. It hit its peak player count of 640 about a week after release. Since then the trend was stagnant, but showed signs of decline. However this was an improvement over the previous iteration X Plane 10. A 69% improvement to be exact, when measuring the Players over a 2 week period.
Now this one I’m interested in more so than Flight Sim World, How has X-Plane 11 changed over a month? The answer is not much sadly. Pretty much a decline across the board with the notable exception of Total owners and Total players. Interestingly the increase on these two was less than the increase seen by FSX in the same time frame. I was honestly expecting the opposite to be true. Again keep in mind these are Steam Sales only and do not account for non steam versions. However as with last time, these numbers are so small compared to FSX; Unless the Non-Steam version is selling at least 2 times as much as the Steam one; It’s not even coming close.
Flight Sim World
Now for the fun one, Flight Sim World. As a reminder unlike FSX and X-Plane the numbers shown here should be most if not all of the Flight Sim World users. Also note that since FSW is an early access game these number are most likely going to change severely before final release. Now I have not personally played Flight Sim World, though I do own a copy. From what I have seen and heard however it seems to be a fairly decent start. 6 months to a year will tell us whether or not it will go any where.
Right out of the gate Flight Sim World does well, selling just over 30,000 copies its first month. The really interesting part is that FSW managed to beat X-Plane 11’s steam sales. In the same amount of time after its release X-Plane 11 only amassed 13,000 owners. Even a month after that the number has only got to 21,000. FSW beat that in its first month out. FSW did release to mixed reviews however compared to X-Plane, and even FSX’s Positive reviews. Though as stated before the steam user reviews are only useful when there’s a lot of them. They are also very easy to manipulate as seen recently with GTAV. So I always take them with a grain of salt. But for completeness sake FSW at time of writing was Mixed reviews; With 493 total user reviews, 69% of which were positive.
However even with 30,000 copies sold, there’s not really very many people playing it. Less than 50 when I snapped these pictures and about 120 in a 24 hour period. Peak Player Count was low to at 664. There is however a very large split between total owners and total players, Visible even at launch. And the overall trend of Owners was up, even while players stagnated. This leads me to believe that a large number of people bought Flight Sim World on launch day but did not install it. Since it is in Early Access, and somewhat contentless right now; This comes as no surprise.
Kerbal Space Program
So last time I talked about another game outside of Flight Simulation to establish a comparison. That game was American Truck Simulator. I figured it would be a good comparison as its not a AAA developed game, it is a Sim, and I think there’s a decent overlap with ATS and Flight Simmers. Now I’m going to do that again but this time let’s compare to a game that went through the early access process. Let’s take a look at Kerbal Space Program! A game that is by far considered the best game to ever come out of Early Access. A game that many consider the go to example of how to do Early Access right.
Kerbal Space Program had its first playable version release in 2011, then came out on steam early access in 2013. Its actual release date out of Early Access was April 27 2015. The object of the game is to design and build rockets and other space oriented vehicles. Then use those vehicles to go on missions off the planet of Kerbin. You have to contend with realistic physics, this is not a set a waypoint and press the fly to button type of game. The Game went through the Early Access cycle with constant updates and full transparency from the developers.
And as you can see a quality game means a lot of customers. Well over 1 million 700 people own Kerbal Space Program. 130 thousand of which play it in a 2 week period, and 4200 played it in 24 hours. But it wasn’t always so, way back in 2013 the game only had 3000 people playing it. That’s average players every 24 hours, and that less than FSX has right now. But years later it’s easily one of the most popular games out there. But that took time, It did not happen overnight. It was years of content additions and updates. All culminating in the April 2015 release.
The exact opposite of what I expected. I thought with X-Plane 11, Flight Sim World, and P3D V4 out now we would be seeing a drop on FSX; And yet we are not! I thought X Plane would have gained more players than it did. I did not think Flight Sim World would come that close to X-Plane either. And Flight Sim World brings up an interesting point. Its no mistake I choose Kerbal as the comparison game. Being in early access makes it much easier to update the game and change things for the better. And so far Dovetail is doing everything right. They are being transparent, they have a road map and regular updates. I sometime wonder if we will see Flight Sim World actually being the biggest sim in a few years. It’s hard to see now, But none of us have a crystal ball. If Dovetail plays their cards just right. Flight Sim World might be the one to top FSX.
Now there is the elephant in the room, Prepar3D. Sadly it hard to find dependable numbers on it. Since it is not sold through Steam, and is not meant to be used for home entertainment. Backwards compatibility was a big selling point for P3D. But since 64bit has become a thing, and you have to rebuy some addons when going from FSX to P3D. Backwards compatibility is not really a thing anymore if it ever was. It’s kind of ironic to, the thing that kept FSX alive through a decade, the thing the Flight Sim Community likes to brag about; The addons! They kept FSX alive, and they still are.
I digress. Anyway there is no dependable data available for P3D. The closest I can come is two virtual airlines that publish their statistics. And even looking at them they show no notable increase in P3D users. But they do show a notable increase for X-Plane users, along with a noticeable decrease in FSX users. But it’s not a big one. And this is only two Virtual airlines, they can’t speak for the entire community; They can only give us a small incite. In the end I think FSX is still top dog, and surprisingly looks to remain so. At least for another year.
By: Timothy Thomas