RaceDepartment Store

Do you ever race in VR?

  • Yes

    Votes: 142 36.7%
  • No

    Votes: 245 63.3%

Upcoming Events

AC events on Simracing.GP ACC events on Simracing.GP R3E events on Simracing.GP Weekly rFactor 2 events Join TCR Virtual today!

How Popular Are Our Favourite PC Racing Sims?

Racing simulators tend to have more longevity than most sports games, but how many people are still playing some of the bigger titles?

Using SteamDB, we can get a reasonably accurate gauge of how many people are currently playing a particular game through Steam. Below I’ve noted the all-time peak concurrent players for some of the more popular titles here at RaceDepartment, plus the 24 hour peak as taken on November 23rd, 2021.

NOTES: SteamDB of course excludes console players and those who might be using an alternative launch method such as Epic. There is also some level of error both in the statistics gathering, and the times when the data was collected. So, please don’t treat the figures below as an absolute value of how many people are playing the title, but rather an overall barometer of how many people are enjoying it on Steam. iRacing statistics are harder to come by, but I will add a footnote if I can gather an accurate player count.

Assetto Corsa
  • All Time Peak – 11,691
  • 24 Hour Peak – 6,824
This modding monster continues to enjoy success eight years after it was first released to the public, thanks in no small part to the great community of creators that keeps AC relevant with new and classic cars and tracks, plus the latest skins of our favourite drivers and teams.

Assetto Corsa Competizione
  • All Time Peak – 6,926
  • 24 Hour Peak – 3,959
The official SRO simulator has been another success for Kunos. On the eve of the release of another major update, thousands of players are still enjoying this GT sim two and a half years after its release on Steam.

Automobilista 2
  • All Time Peak – 1,150
  • 24 Hour Peak – 372
Reiza Studios are hard at work on their biggest physics update so far for AMS2, which is set to be released to the public this month. The title has had its share of doubters, but Reiza has kept its ear to the ground in the sim community and has made major strides since the first release version and will hope to see the number of people enjoying the title continue to climb.

BeamNG.drive
  • All Time Peak – 13,572
  • 24 Hour Peak – 7,932
Known mainly to the layperson as a crash simulator, BeamNG is perhaps better summarized as a physics playground with a huge modding community. This simulator has more players than even Assetto Corsa, and likely owes much of that popularity to the huge selection of car and track mods on offer, much like AC.

F1 2021
  • All Time Peak – 24,513
  • 24 Hour Peak – 11,400
The official game of F1 has enjoyed mostly positive reviews once again this year. And unlike recent years, updates to the title have included new content. Three additional tracks have been added post-release, which seems to be having the effect of sustaining the interest of players, as over 10,000 people on Steam alone are still enjoying playing F1 at any time.

Euro Truck Simulator 2
  • All Time Peak – 61,081
  • 24 Hour Peak – 37,635
This is obviously not a racing sim, but for perspective on the other titles, check out the impressive numbers behind ETS2. Apparently the allure of a chill drive across some of the most beautiful areas on the continent of Europe holds great appeal to gamers.

Most Popular Racing Sims 03.jpg

Forza Horizon 5
  • All Time Peak – 81,096
  • 24 Hour Peak – 37,924
Forza Horizon 5 has broken every sales record for a racing game, and even ignoring the massive player base on console, the concurrent player count is staggering. FH5 continues the series’ open world, consequence free feel, and appeals to the fun-chasing side in racing game fans.

NASCAR 21: Ignition
  • All Time Peak – 323
  • 24 Hour Peak – 42
NASCAR 21’s launch was marred by bugs and bad reviews. As such, the game is off to a slow start. This is the newest title on this list, and should be enjoying its “honeymoon” sales phase, but most of the major complaints about the title have yet to be addressed. The good news? It’s now playable for me since the latest update, so my overdue review should be coming soon.

RaceRoom Racing Experience
  • All Time Peak – 2,630
  • 24 Hour Peak – 1,057
There’s a case to be made that RaceRoom is the most complete racing sim on the market. As such, its popularity has remained strong since its early 2013 release. Content releases have slowed recently, but a well-built multiplayer system keeps players coming back.

rFactor 2
  • All Time Peak – 1,652
  • 24 Hour Peak – 747
rFactor 2 has been praised since its 2015 Steam release as the pinnacle of simulator force feedback and vehicle physics. Either opinion is debatable of course, but there’s no doubt that the driving experience in rF2 can be a pure pleasure. The title is also the preferred sim of many major eSports series, which keeps it relevant and popular with both casual and professional players.

Obviously there are countless other titles that could have been included in this article, so if I missed any titles that could provide interesting data, be sure to share the name and user stats below.
About author
Mike Smith
I have been obsessed with sim racing and racing games since the 1980's. My first taste of live auto racing was in 1988, and I couldn't get enough ever since. Lead writer for RaceDepartment, and owner of SimRacing604 and its YouTube channel. Favourite sims include Assetto Corsa Competizione, Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Automobilista 2, DiRT Rally 2 - On Twitter as @simracing604

Comments

Pretty sad to see RFactor series is at the bottom of the list when its been around longer than most, what went wrong ?

I would say the constant negative comments by people that simply never liked it

To me it seemed like it stuck in their craws, they could never let it go

Why is the million $ question

Why not just like all sims for what they are, for others, not yourself

Always made me wonder do any other genre of game have this love / hate going on
 
I think people are misunderstanding the numbers.

These Steamdb figures shows the amount of players at one point in time during the day.

To have a better estimation, lets suppose the average of time in the sim is 1 hour per person (i think it's much less), then you take the steam average per day and make it times 24. Then you have roughly the number of people in the sim per day.
 
Looking at the numbers, I think there's a direct correlation between how easy a game is with a controller vs a wheel. I was messing around on vacation once trying to get rFactor2 in a usable state with a controller and after multiple hours, just couldn't get it feeling good.
 
Looking at the numbers, I think there's a direct correlation between how easy a game is with a controller vs a wheel. I was messing around on vacation once trying to get rFactor2 in a usable state with a controller and after multiple hours, just couldn't get it feeling good.

Yeah, I get that feeling in iRacing ;)

Then again I think that I heard that during the Covid lockdown there was a professional driver who was competing with a game controller, so.... you never know.
 
Last edited:
Surprised by the numbers of ETS2. I had no idea it was that popular. I understand the appeal: I'm one of those people who thought at first that it was a weird idea to play a trucking simulator... Until I tried it and was instantly hooked!

As for other titles, I'm a bit disappointed by the numbers for AMS2, but I think it has to do with the rather... "exotic" car selection. Not too many people outside of Brazil have heard of the Brazilian stock cars, the Brazilian prototypes, etc. There are cars in that game that I had to look up on Google to see what they were in real life! However, that sim has improved tremendously since it's 1.0 release and I can't wait for the upcoming upgrade.
 
beam being higher than ac surprised me. the modding scene there isnt near what it is for ac. at least it feels like that when you look at the forums. for me beam isnt one of the games with a lot of replay value. i do the scenarios that are available and do some driving around a race circuit, but thats about it. the online and ai viability and quality is...questionable at best. beam is impressive, dont get me wrong, but its not a game, its a tech demo. and what i mean is it doesnt really give you much to achieve beyond the scenarios, which are fun, but once you beat them, youre done. with ac theres always some racing or cruising going on, or you can play with ai, its not too bad. its why ets2 is WAY more popular despite the driving itself being pretty bad, it gives you stuff to do and goals to achieve and a career to build on. now if beam ever gets that career mode (which we've heard nothing about in YEARS) then it'll be a different story. idk, maybe theres something im missing.
 
Not for AC with CM, only in race time is counted toward in game hours, you can sit in CM all day long, Steam wouldn't notice your presence.

Then the next question would be: how many AC users run CM?

My guess is, as awesome as it is, it's much lower than many might think...

Surprised by the numbers of ETS2. I had no idea it was that popular. I understand the appeal: I'm one of those people who thought at first that it was a weird idea to play a trucking simulator... Until I tried it and was instantly hooked!

As for other titles, I'm a bit disappointed by the numbers for AMS2, but I think it has to do with the rather... "exotic" car selection. Not too many people outside of Brazil have heard of the Brazilian stock cars, the Brazilian prototypes, etc. There are cars in that game that I had to look up on Google to see what they were in real life! However, that sim has improved tremendously since it's 1.0 release and I can't wait for the upcoming upgrade.

Yea the truck sim craze is quite fascinating...even more so when you factor in I believe quite a bit of the players use keyboard/mouse only. It is very relaxing, I find a good streaming station (I'd try to find one that matches the region) and it's pretty chill. It got even better when you get a DD wheel so you can set rotation to 1800 degrees...control is so much better and less twitchy, especially when parking!

I bought AMS2 early when they had the early backing program since I loved AMS 1 so much, but backed away since it was a mess initially (IMO). Since I'm hearing good things about these updates maybe I'll give it a go again. Honestly what made AMS1 great to me (besides the driving feel) was their love for F1 cars, covering pretty much every era of F1 except the Fangio era + modding capabilities...it was like the unofficial F1 simulator to me. I wish they could push that side of it more with AMS2 but I'm sure they don't want FOM getting trigger happy with their IP. I also loved the prototypes...that AJR with the Judd V10 :chefs kiss:
 
Euro Truck is a phenomenon, matching the brand new AAA title from Microsoft.
Traditional circuit racing a niche within a niche, the average person seems to enjoy driving around more than racing to the point that even F1 can't match it.
 

Article information

Author
Mike Smith
Views
16,378
Comments
161
Last update

Share this article

Top