There’s no doubt in my mind that Microsoft Flight Simulator is a gargantuan release of a flight sim that has breathed new life into the flight simulation world. Today, a post on FlightSimulator.com marks a number of milestones for the sim including news that the sim is now 10-million strong.
While Steam Charts reports DCS and IL-2 picking up anywhere between 1,000 and about 4,000 peak players, Microsoft Flight Simulator is reportedly now reaching beyond the 10-million mark. Although those charts on Steam don’t tell the full story as all of those sims command strong audiences outside of the Steam platform, even if we multiply that number by 10 times, their population numbers we’re still nowhere near what Microsoft is reporting for MSFS.
That 10-million number might be a bit of a misnomer too because not every single one of those virtual pilots are going to be sticking with the platform. Even flying for a few minutes in discovery mode and walking away from the sim forever is likely to be counted in that total. But even if half or a quarter of those people stay, Microsoft Flight Simulator is absolutely huge and an undeniable success for what is otherwise a mostly niche hobby/training tool.
Those aren’t the only numbers being reported today. Microsoft shared some other numbers including 500-million flights and 40-billion miles flown. Enough for 10-million trips around the Earth and 200 round trips between the Earth and the sun. There have also been 27 updates to the sim since launch and while not every update has been a resounding success, the sim has truly landed in a good place with the 40th anniversary update.
And, as they said today, Microsoft Flight Simulator is still just getting started with a lot of new content planned for release in 2023.
It’s an impressive milestone and it shows off just how big this sim is and how many people its reaching. It’s all a bit mind boggling. Congratulations to Microsoft and congratulations to the team at Asobo Studio!
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In many ways MSFS seemed to have been beamed to us from 5 years in the future. Such an impressive feat. Hope it encourages some cross fertilisation with Il-2 and DCS to keep growing those communities too.
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Definitely feels like it was a bit ahead of its time. Now it’s really begun to mature and I’m very excited to see what they are able to do in 2023 now that some big ticket items like native support for helicopters have been released to the platform.
I think and hope too that DCS and IL-2 will pick up some people from this sim. I think they will and I think they already are…. lots of people coming out from MSFS saying that’s great but they want something a bit more action packed and those two deliver!
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You’re undoubtedly right on the composition of that “10,000,000” pilots number (dang that’s a LOT of zeros!) being somewhat “exaggerated”.
I suspect the “true” numbers are VERY skewed in a similar manner to SteamDB’s All-Time Peak Player metrics:
DCS World: 3,300
That’s still an incredible lead for MSFS, but it’s an extremely misleading Snap Shot:
The 62,000 metric was literally a SINGLE sharp peak ONLY on launch day, but then fell by -87% (!!!) over the next few days.
The next highest peak was a “paltry” 20,000 on the very recent release date of the 40th Anniversary.
A more representative comparison is looking at overall “Daily Average Peak Players”, which shows these approximate numbers:
DCS World: 2,000
FS X: 1,200
Again, an extremely impressive 4x lead between #1 MSFS and all the rest, but not nearly as stratospheric a difference as MSFS’ simple arithmetic 10M figure would lead us to believe (Marketing,,,!!!).
The true Dark Horse here, though, is…
It’s consistently running as the #2 most popular flight sim (on Steam). THAT is still a nearly incredible figure considering the overall popularity of X-Plane & FSX/Prepar3D.
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MSFS is available free for anyone with Xbox game pass, so you would have to think a lot of Xbox Gamepass users fire the game up once or twice and never use again. This is probably a smart move though, I got gamepass ($1 for first month) specifically to try MSFS – and could not resist buying as a result:-).
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I’m sure that does inflate the numbers a whole bunch. But, as you yourself know, it does bring some people in. And I think that’s fantastic!