What Can Steam Chart's January Figures Tell Us About PC Racing Games?

charts_assetto.jpg

An interesting look at the latest player count for a selection of sim racing games recorded from Steam Charts.


I have long been interested in the racing sim market, and find Steam Charts data very interesting. You have to understand what the figures mean though. They do not "prove" which game is "best". They do not tell you how many copies of a game have been sold - just how many people are playing it on average at any one time.

Looking at the average number of players at any one time over the month of January 2019 shows the following

Grand Theft Auto 5 59851
Rocket League 34321
ETS 2 19165

These figures are really just for reference, to remind us the "big boys" are in a completely different league to any racing sim. For every person playing AC there are 10 playing ETS2 and 30 playing GTA5.

The rest of the list includes a mixture of games for two reasons. First it avoids the debate about what title is a "true racing sim". Second, while the figures above clearly indicate the big user base isn't for sim racing, it doesn't mean all games aimed at the more casual player are more popular than racing sims.

Assetto Corsa 1997
BeamNG drive 1908
Project Cars 2 1069
F1 2018 1013
Crew 2 884
Dirt Rally 528
My Summer Car 488
rFactor2 468
Wreckfest 346
RaceRoom 346
Dirt 4 302
Project Cars 257
F1 2017 216
Assetto Corsa Competizione 155
Automobilista 120
F1 2016 62
WRC 7 61
Dakar 18 35
Race 07 22
KartKraft 11

Sadly Steam Charts can't tell us how many play iRacing. Anecdotally it is in the same ballpark as AC.

Surprises? As I have followed Steam Charts for a while I was already familiar with the relative active user-bases for AC/PC2/rF2/RR/AMS. It is perhaps worth pointing out that the January number for both AC and RF2 is the highest monthly average ever, and the figure for PC2 and RR is up on Jan 2018. Perhaps all this talk about growth of sim racing is true :)

What surprised me was the number of people playing BeamNG drive - that had completely sneaked under my radar.

I also found the Codies numbers interesting as I tend to think of them as a big developer aiming at a broad audience, but actually their player numbers are in the same ballpark as racing sims (on PC at least). Dirt Rally has clearly seen off its newer rival Dirt 4 (on PC at least) which no doubt explains why Codies have gone for Dirt Rally 2 rather than Dirt 5. The WRC and DAKAR numbers indicate the rally market is still hard to succeed in.

The numbers for Project CARS (1) and F1-2017 confirm what you might expect - that most players move on when the replacement comes out. The exception seems to be ACC. Granted, ACC isn't a direct replacement for AC, it is in Early Access and it is incomplete. I'm sure the player numbers will rise come full release but they are starting from a low base.

As a fan of older sims I was curious about their popularity. RACE 07, while not steam exclusive, has been on steam since launch and most current players are likely to be playing on Steam so I opted for this. The player numbers are very low.

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RasmusP

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Nice article thread from you! Thanks for the nice overview :)
One thing about "codies being a big one" and "ac above pcars 1/2":
I do think the majority of their userbase are playing on consoles so they won't show in the steam charts. Grand tourismo would probably grab another big bite of the table. Can't find any numbers of them though...
 
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Kenny Paton

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Nice one David, certainly shows what a niche we inhabit. Total up the games that would generally be regarded as sims makes it even worse, they don't even make up 25% of ETS2's numbers.
Good job our niche has such passionate and dedicated players:thumbsup:
 
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neuer31

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There is no such things as "true racing sims", stop spreading misinformation
There is Arcade, Simcade and Simulation, and these are defined by HOW MUCH they simulate, not by how accurate, that would be something else called level of realism.
Ofc the scale changes over years as newer technology allows us to simulate more. So the scale is relative.
 

Bobby Pennington

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@David Wright thank you for taking the time to do this for us. I've always wondered and now I know.

I'm a little disappointed in the sim numbers. I truly thought they would be higher. As a guy that's been doing this since Papyrus Indy Car Racing, consoles before that, mu love of driving and flight sims have never diminished. If I were a young man or had a young child, I'd definitely give them the opportunity to race with a sim. Young people will have careers doing this and as we've already seen with Gran Turismo and McLaren, the sky is the limit.

Btw, is there a way to find out roughly how many sales there are for each title?

Cheers
 
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farjam

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Thanks for the article:thumbsup:
_____________
post edited :D

here you can see their all time players on a chart too:
here for assetto corsa or here for f1 2018
to see how they did from their release until now or to see players reaction to every build of a game like ACC:
screen403.jpg


also not so long ago we could see the number of sales on steam , but companies didn't want that so steam blocked it...
for example games like f1 2017 if i remember correctly had 300,000 copies sold when it was near the time of f1 2018 release, AC was near 2M (i'm not exactly sure but it was definitely more that 1.6M)
 
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R1Joel

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Does the number represent unique players? I don't fully understand the numbers, but for iRacing, there are 5497 players online right now (usually is every morning for me) and down to around 1000 or under in the afternoon for me (in Aus).
Interesting to see F1 2018 so low. But I assume most of the sales for that title are on console.
 

ShredatorFIN

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Good article. Been following Steamcharts too. Few thoughts:

- ETS 2. I never understood how trucking can be so popular :D Really, how? I know "it's relaxing to haul some cargo" but still... how? Many of those people probably play on keyboard? What's going on

- AC still going strong. Mods are endless. SOL and shaders patch has reinvigorated AC, although I don't think the numbers have been bad at any point

- Automobilista. Shockingly low for such a outstanding sim. Why everyone who plays AC (people with wheels, right?) doesn't have Automobilista already? Don't tell me all of them use VR? You're missing something great

But yes it seems that unless you're a shooter, MMO or management game (or game about hauling cargo in a truck), you're SOL (**** outta luck)
 
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Will Mazeo

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Thanks for the article:thumbsup:
These numbers are for "24-hour peak" per particular game or just "player count for the exact time you have checked them"?
just saying the "24-hour peak player count" could be way more reliable to compare(because different time zones , in some hours the games are in their lowest and sometime in their crowded hours in a day).
for example :
assetto highest number of online for yesterday was 3,899
and F1 2018 was 1939

here you can see their all time players on a chart too:
here for assetto corsa or here for f1 2018
to see how they did from their release until now or to see players reaction to every build of a game like ACC:
View attachment 289665
The number in first post is the average of the whole month man, it's written right there
 

Epistolarius

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Should be noted that Steam made the default of the then introduced game details profile privacy setting to friends only April last year, making those figures not all that accurate.

Edit: Oh yeah, y'all know better. :rolleyes: Steam Charts isn't going to be circumventing privacy settings through Steam Web API.
 
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mantasisg

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Should be noted that Steam made the default of the then introduced game details profile privacy setting to friends only April last year, making those figures not all that accurate.
They did ? It doesn't reflect in statistics, no sudden change.
 

farjam

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Should be noted that Steam made the default of the then introduced game details profile privacy setting to friends only April last year, making those figures not all that accurate.
It was only about the selling numbers(as publishers wish) , not online players count, making all user's game inventories private only affected the sale numbers and those web sites removed that sale chart because it was not reliable anymore after that issue.
 

erba72

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Thanks for the article:thumbsup:
_____________
post edited :D

here you can see their all time players on a chart too:
here for assetto corsa or here for f1 2018
to see how they did from their release until now or to see players reaction to every build of a game like ACC:
View attachment 289665

also not so long ago we could see the number of sales on steam , but companies didn't want that so steam blocked it...
for example games like f1 2017 if i remember correctly had 300,000 copies sold when it was near the time of f1 2018 release, AC was near 2M (i'm not exactly sure but it was definitely more that 1.6M)
Wow, that's a lot of players still in AC, without peoples who use Content Manager too.
And I'm waaay above average playtime in last 2 weeks for F1 2018, I only bought it for christmas so I'm fully enjoying it. That's 60 Hours for me in 2 Months.(probaly 58 Hours spent in career) I'm doing a realsitic career with 100% distance and driving for Williams, still not started Red Bull Ring Free practice.
Just to say that I'll probably reach 200 hours of F1 2018.
Already 206 hours of AC (in steam only, probably 15 more or so in Content Manager)
And 147 hours in R3E, growing up too
 

Enzo Fazzi

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We've got 500+ drivers at simracing.club doing rF2 VEC and VLMS. Those probably account for a large chunk of rF2's average player count. Both sad and impressive.
 
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