Featured Not As Common As You Would Think - Steering Wheels and Sim Racing

Discussion in 'Sim Racing Hardware' started by Paul Jeffrey, Oct 4, 2018.

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  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    Wheel usage on Steam.jpg
    An interesting statistic came to my attention recently. According to Steam, less than 0.198% of controllers used on the platform are racing wheels...

    Frankly I got in to sim racing as a cheaper and more accessible alternative to going out on circuit and doing the real thing in a purpose built racing car. A whole collection of reasons pushed me in this direction, not least of which can be attributed to costs, accessibility, time and upkeep, as I made my decision to move away from the goal of participating in real world competition and switched my focus instead to the virtual form of my favourite sporting activity.

    Often us sim racers can be a little bit too sim racing centric in our thoughts, discounting many of the widely played computer "games" available in the modern era, and sticking firmly to the virtual recreation of our favourite motorised sports.

    I will readily admit I am one of those individuals. I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in computers or computer games outside of sim racing - the idea of playing any kind of recreational virtual entertainment other than the more serious end of the "sim" driving spectrum is completely alien to me, and as such I can very easily overlook the impact of other genres of gaming options that are available today.

    With that in mind, and in my quest to best recreate the real thing on my home computer, ownership and usage of a wheel, pedal and gear stick combination are as natural to me as putting on shoes before going for a walk... it's just that clear to me that these additional luxury items are an essential ingredient required to best get both immersion and enjoyment out of my sim driving experience, and I suspect the same holds true of many of our RaceDepartment members reading this article today.

    Now before we go on to the main thrust of this piece I admit I am aware that sim racing only takes up a very small portion of the overall gaming market share - this is entirely evident when you see the relatively small sales numbers of even the best racing sims, but with that in mind the recent statistic shared by Steam still came as something of a shock...

    Controller Usage on Steam.jpg
    According to some detailed data collection the very popular game hosting platform have collected, just 118,410 players of a potential pool of over 60 000 000 have used a racing steering wheel since data recording began in 2014.... that's less than 0.2%!

    Consider that of the 118,410 devices recorded, due to the very small number Valve have bundled together other devices such as Dance Pads, N64 controllers and DIY devices into that figure, so in reality the actual racing wheel usage is even lower than the quoted 118,410 produced by the data research!

    This offers up a very interesting question about how many sim racing drivers actually use a wheel when playing their racing sim or game of choice. If we keep things simple and assume that all of those 118,410 devices are wheels, and round it up to 200,000 for ease of maths, that still falls very short of the number of copies sold on PC for a wide selection of different racing sims. In fact, according to SteamSpy between 500,000 and 1m people own a copy of Assetto Corsa alone.. leaving one to wonder if the additional devices players such as myself take for granted are indeed as widely spread as I first thought.

    What do you use when sim racing?

    Link to the full Steam article can be found HERE.

    Thank you to RaceDepartment community member @TylerDurden4321 for bringing this interesting article to my attention.

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    Are you surprised by the figures reported on Steam? What controller(s) do you use when playing racing games? Let us know in the comments section below!
     
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  2. bertiesparty

    bertiesparty

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    I much prefer using a wheel (although I can't reasonably afford anything more than a T150), but the amount of space it takes up combined with the practical considerations of having to get it set up mean that I often use a 360 controller instead, purely because of how much more practical it is.

    If I had more space and wasn't currently living in a tiny and cluttered room, I'd likely get more of a proper permanent rig set up. As things are I only break out the wheel if I'm feeling really into using it.
     
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  3. Shaun Clarke

    Shaun Clarke
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    Can I ask, how does Steam know what you are using, as a controller? Yeah sure they know what platform but how do they know if I am using a wheel, or pad or keyboard?

    To me, that's just "assumptions" not actual facts?

    Shaun
     
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  4. whip

    whip

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    nvm
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2018
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  5. Jordan Dion

    Jordan Dion
    Bluestar Racing Premium

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    I was thinking the same... I mean these not so much game u ''need'' a steering wheel. Not talking about need for **** or forza
     
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  6. Will Mazeo

    Will Mazeo
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    Bro Google knows when you go take a dump, finding out what control you are using is easy peasy
     
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  7. Carlitox

    Carlitox

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    Note that very often cheap chinese wheels (like the one I started with :D) are picked up by the system as generic joysticks, because that's what they are, steering wheel shaped joysticks. One of the analog sticks is repurposed as the pedals (hence why you can't throttle and brake simultaneously) and the other is the steering. The vibration for the controller is replicated with a little motor, and the buttons are exactly the same. So there's a chance many of those wheels are recognised as joysticks in the stats.

    Still, it's no mystery that they're rare. I personally know nobody who has those cheap chinese things, let alone a purpose built Logitech.
     
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  8. ionONE1

    ionONE1
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    Steam conducts a monthly survey to collect data about what kinds of computer hardware and software our customers are using. Participation in the survey is optional, and anonymous ...
    https://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey
     
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  9. RasmusP

    RasmusP
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    Afaik steam knows the "devices" used so they know I use a corsair keyboard, logitech mouse and a g27 wheel.
    Also there's the steam survey every now and then where, if you accept it, steam will read out your full pc specs for exactly this kind of statistics. Ssd or not, what cpu etc!

    PS: @ionONE1 sorry for almost punting you off earlier today. Was hunting for that 1:43.xx :p
     
  10. Shaun Clarke

    Shaun Clarke
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    Only if you fill it in though? which I never had.

    Interesting though, but still very shady
     
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  11. mysterion157

    mysterion157
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    Xbox 360 for life
     
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  12. Diogo Goetz Brand

    Diogo Goetz Brand

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    How is that surprising? You can play 99.999% of Steam games with a mouse and keyboard or gamepad, It's obvious that the percentage of wheel owners is almost 0.
     
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  13. David Wright

    David Wright

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    AC has sold over 800,000 copies on Steam - so if there are 60 million steam users that's 1.3% of Steam users own AC. Paul's point is the large majority of AC players are not using a wheel if the steam figures are to be believed.
     
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  14. Nico

    Nico
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    Sim racing is a very minor genre among gaming -this shouldn't be surprising considering the constantly falling popularity of car culture over the years- and also racing gear is way too expensive for most people. Controllers are cheaper and more practical despite all their disadvantages.
     
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  15. CMGARAGE

    CMGARAGE
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    The article Paul sources is from Steam. Steam carry out regular user surveys in which details about your set-up are sent.

    You can check what kind of stuff Steam identifies by selecting 'help' in Steam and 'System Information'.

    In the list under 'Misc' it should list your controller types.

    For example I have "Game Controller: Thrustmaster T300RS Racing Wheel detected"

    With any statistics there will always be slight margins of error, but please don't discount them completely out of hand.

    The point remains the same that wheel users are a tiny minority of overall steam users. That is a fact.

    Of those surveyed only 0.34% appeared to be using a VR headset. I'd imagine most would of thought that number would be higher, when you consider how many here race with one and complain when it's not supported.

    What would be more useful data though would be to see these numbers amongst people, who for example, owned one or more 'racing games'. Perhaps even compare the stats for owners of Codies F1 to say RF2 to see if there's a significant shift towards accessories with more 'sim' oriented games.
     
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  16. Paradox47

    Paradox47

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    I've had accept Steam survey week ago and after quick check he show me detail spec of my rig, but nothing about my steering wheel, H.O.T.A.S., or gamepad. I have drivers for all that devices, but they just wasn't plug in when steam check my specs. So i'd wouldn't rely so much on Steam statistics.
     
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  17. Leonardo Chaves

    Leonardo Chaves

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    I'm curious about that, i own an Xbox 360 pad in addition to my G27, and hardware surveys always seem about the CPU/GPU rather than peripherals.

    I'm surprised flightsticks seem more popular than wheels according to this.
     
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  18. Leonardo Chaves

    Leonardo Chaves

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    This is the real question.
     
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  19. Andy_J

    Andy_J
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    Interesting data from steam. In deed we are a small niche segment that use FFB wheels and pedals. Even smaller would be a very small niche segment that have rigs with triple screens.
    And the teeny weeny very very small segment of very niche sim racers use VR. ;):whistling:
     
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  20. Ricoow

    Ricoow
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    These steam stats do not tell the whole story I suppose. My wheel is never plugged, only during racing sessions and that is not when the survey is taking place. So yeah, kinda strange stats.
     
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