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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

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...
CM + CSP + SOL and all the awesome mods is what keeps number up and climbing. I really doubt we would see such high player count otherwise, people tend to move away from things that get stale.
So the answer to your question, who doesn't?

EDIT: AC Custom Shaders Discord server has 23,158 active members.
 
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CM + CSP + SOL and all the awesome mods is what keeps number up and climbing. I really doubt we would see such high players count otherwise, people tend to move away from things that get stale.
So the answer to your question, who doesn't?
You'd be surprised. I get reports constantly that mods which use my work crash on someone's setup because they didn't have CSP installed.

It's likely that a bit under half of AC users actually even have CSP and CM. Quite many aren't even aware they exist, and also quite many just don't like them.
 
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.
For me, part of the appeal of ETS is simply driving in Europe. I live in Montreal, but my greatest pleasure is traveling to Europe. The pandemic put a stop to that for a while now, so it’s great to hit the road virtually and go to France, Italy, Austria, etc. Not the real thing, of course, but a nice way to chill…
 
That would be interesting to calculate as a comparison how many people on average are racing on a race track per day worldwide .... :cool:
 
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Since when did BeamNG.drive has as many mods as Assetto Corsa? Maybe if we had BeamNG download category in the left sidebar I could see this "cornucopia of mods".
 
So AC oriented site. This is funny.
iRacing: over 10000 members online every single day.
Did you even read the post?

It literally says the below:
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.
 
Was at first hand quite surprised BeanNG being that popular, until my memory reckoned I recently discovered that my daughter's 8yo cousin plays it vividly.

But not exactly news that our fantastic hobby sadly still is a niche eSport on the large consumer market, exept if a large player on the game market "annexes" a sim ...but in the process makes it a sim-cade or even an arcade game, more suitable for the console+pad market.
"Best" recent example PC3 and earlier Codemaster's annexation of the F1 license. 'Dissapointed' is not a word that can describe my feelings, though Codemaster's F1 has mitigated slowly. But especially extremely dissapointed about SMS' approach on PC3, and not even hitting sales numbers which in their own world might've justified their approach.

Cannot fathom it should be so difficult to make a sim that both satisfies hardcore simmers and arcade gamers.

Simbin was IMO so close on the line with GTR2 if just they had invested time in a console pendant. I mean GTR2 has all to get a console gamer going with fun and exiting challenges, driving school, etc.
And EA has even been in both worlds. Speaking I remember a national challenge in early 2003 where one of the physical electronic stores in my country had a PS2 F1 competition and the winner getting a test drive in a real F1 car.

In my world it was completely unnecessary for SMS going thst path with PC3.
 
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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...
At least 11,946 player, that's the number of CM CSP beta patreon subscribers. Also assettocorsa.club the website hosting CM is receiving an average of 600 000 visits per month . From those datas you can make your own evaluation for the free version users. The theory of half or more of actual AC players using CM is possible
 
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SteamDB has an export function which decently creates an csv/xls file. The chart below (or any other chart form) would've been more interesting to read. Assetto Corsa - from Steamdb - its entire lifespan:


Screenshot 2021-11-24 083656.png
 
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I don't understand what happened with rf2, it is the best commercial simulator that exists and with a lot of difference compared to the others.

We're supposed to be simracers, and it seems that the most widely sold and played game is basically arcade.
 
Did you even read the post?

It literally says the below:
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.
Does it really harder like author it presents?
He doesn't even trying to google this question.
iracingstats.com
u r welcome
 
There's only two sims for me: AMS 2 and RBR NGP 6. Notable mentions: AC & Racroom. iRacong for it's incredible addicting MP-system, tho.
 
As someone who loves AMS 2 (especially the GT4 Camaro at Nords or Bathurst), loves ACC (any GT4 anywhere), loves AC (due to the incredible mods), loves rF2 despite slow loading times, loves Dirt Rally 1/2, loves iRacing (but cannot afford it) and also loves titles like TDU (the original), FH4 and FH5 (especially now that wheel support has at least been somewhat patched), I see no reason for assuming this thread is flame bait. The fact is these titles have all brought wonderful things to the sim racing community including many more people to expand our little gaming niche.

Consider the rate at which graphics quality and physics quality in PC racing games have grown over the last couple decades. This is not to say every game has great graphics or great physics... Just that the little improvements we see in each of the titles have all raised the PC sim racing bar aLOT. Consider, for instance, how fast telemetry, VR, motion platforms, or FFB vendors have entered the realm despite our tiny little audience.

And, before you even think about bad mouthing titles like FH5, consider that with 6 million plus copies sold, it will probably be single handedly responsible for more FFB steering wheel sales than all racing (sim/arcade/simcade) titles sold before it. And, what do you think all those folks are gonna do with their new wheels.... Hopefully, they'll all figure out that driving with something other than the left thumbstick and two trigger buttons can be really exhilarating.

Now, we, as a community, just need to see:
1. a concerted effort to fix alpha and beta testing expectations
2. a concerted effort to stop publishers from entering into deals to support exclusive peripherals, exclusive racing series, exclusive track deals, exclusive car deals, etc., and,
3. a concerted effort to stop endorsing racing games that cannot use steering wheels and are instead limited to left thumbstick steering (Hot Wheels and Dirt 4.... I am looking at you)

So, Mike, thank you for bringing attention to just how fast our little hobby has grown.
 
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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.
It's not that clear cut and depends on the launch method you set in CM. I have it on Replace (I think it's called that) and Steam counts only CM being open as running the game. There may also be other methods that do that as well.
 
Always made me wonder do any other genre of game have this love / hate going on
This has been around for YEARS.....I remember the ZX Spectrum/C64 fights in school (I imagine there was fights in the 70's as well Atari/someone else?), then SEGA/Nintendo, then Sony/Nintendo, then Sony/Xbox. Same in Music Metallica/Megadeth etc etc, Humans are VERY tribal, VERY biased and VERY prejudiced in everything they do.

edit forgot Amiga/Atari ST
 
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