I was recently ask why Coolsky doesn't develop for and support Lockheed Martin's Prepar3D flight simulator. The discussion quickly turned into one about the future of flight simming since P3D is often held up as the future of flight simming. I will try to explain here why I don't develop for or support P3D, and why I don't think it is the future of flight simming.
Then what is the future of flight simming?
First, just to clarify; when I say "sim X is or is not the future of flight simming", I mean the next flight simulator to dominate the market. The one flight simulator most people fly and buy addons for, like FSX now and FS9 before that.
Let's talk about P3D first. In short, this is the primary reason why I don't develop for or support P3D: Low market share.
The above chart is from the Avsim 2013 demographic survey. This graphic isn't the best since the upward scale isn't linear, but you still get the point; there is only one king.
Looking at the actual numbers behind this chart, 73% say they spend most of their sim time with FSX. Only 4% say they spend most of their sim time with P3D. 4%! Compared to P3D, I would be way better off developing for FS9 which has more than four times the market share of P3D at 17%.
Another interesting point in the answers from this survey question; if we single out P3D, only 14% of P3D owners say this is the sim they spend most of their time with. That is a low number. 55% say this is the sim they spend the least time with. This is P3D owners!
In the Avsim survey people were asked to rate each of their flightsims from 1 to 5 depending on how much time they spend with them. In my numbers I'm only looking at those who answered 5 (most time) and drawing a parallel from that to market share. Obviously, real market share numbers will differ, but I think these numbers give a good indication of what the reality is. Again, to clarify; by "market share" I mean the sim you spend most of your time with and thus buy addons for. A total of 27% of the people who answered this survey question actually say they do own a copy of P3D. That is a high number. But if they don't use the sim, they're not going to buy addons for it either and there is no market for addon developers.
Another point about P3D which most people seem to forget in these discussions is that P3D is not a consumer entertainment product. It is not targeted at that market, at us home flight simmers. And Lockheed Martin is certainly not a consumer entertainment company. P3D is targeted at the commercial use and military markets and that is not where we are, the majority of us anyways. Obviously, there are individuals and companies from the commercial use and military markets within our community, and they do belong here with us, but the vast majority are home consumers looking for entertainment use products.
This is another reason I'm not developing for P3D. Even though the DC-9 Classic is a highly advanced product, it has not been designed for commercial use. It is a consumer entertainment product. Things may change in the future, but for now Coolsky is in the consumer entertainment business.
P3D isn't the way forward for the flightsim community as a whole. For a while I was kind of hoping X-Plane, the other alternative "future of flight simming", would gain some traction. At 3% market share 8 years after FSX was released, it doesn't really look like that is ever going to happen. And the usage numbers for XP are even worse than those for P3D. Two thirds of XP owners don't use the sim! (spend least time with it) X-Plane does not appear to be the future we are looking for either.
So, what other contenders do we have trying to make a move to become "the future of flight simming"? The latest player on the field is Dovetail Games.
Is this the light at the end of the tunnel we've all been looking for? Or just another freight train from DTG? Sorry guys, I couldn't resist that one! More on this discussion and Dovetail Games coming up in part 2 tomorrow.
I would love to hear your comments about what I have discussed here. I don't have a comment system now at the new website, but please tell me what you think on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or the support forum.
What do you think about P3D and the future of flight simming and our community?
As of writing this the Avsim demographic survey 2014 results aren't in yet so I'm using the ones from 2013. These surveys offer an exceptional insight into our community and I'd like to thank Avsim for doing these surveys every year and for making them available to us all.
Future Flightsim: Part 2 - Dovetail
Future Flightsim: Part 3 - The Elephant
Top illustration photo by Gordon Wrigley, distributed under Creative Commons 2.0 license.