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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Offline vs Online, which is most popular now?

Interesting poll on a sim website would seem to indicate the balance now is firmly in favour of online play for today's simmers, with one third more indicating they prefer online vs offline play.

More than 300 players said they prefer some sort of online play, while only 200 indicated they prefer offline play. A similar poll a year ago was split 50/50. If the results indicate a trend toward more players moving online, there could be several reasons:

- higher bandwidth meaning smoother online play and fewer frustrations
- games better optimised for online play
- more interesting online play options such as online persistent campaigns and coop missions

But they could equally indicate that developers these days just aren't developing compelling offline or single player content. Cliffs of Dover came to market with two of the worst, buggiest single player campaigns ever seen in a commercial release. Rise of Flight campaigns were scripted, and the career mode has been in beta for several years now. DCS P51 was launched without any campaign at all - just training missions.

The reality is that developing compelling and engaging single player campaigns takes a lot of research, time and effort, and if players are happy enough just going online and fragging with each other, there is little point in investing this time and effort. Recent sim history would seem to indicate this is what flight sim developers are thinking.

Which is very different from the world of FPS developers, who craft intricate and almost cinematic single player campaigns for their shooter titles. Not surprisingly though, their economies of scale are of a completely different world order, because they are shipping units in the millions for every game, not in the thousands which is the case for flight sims.

It seems likely this trend is solidifying though - the future is here, and it is online!

Whats your favorite way to play WW2 flight sims?

  1. Online DF server (77 votes [12.94%])
  2. Online COOP's (137 votes [23.03%])
  3. Offline quick battles (49 votes [8.24%])
  4. Voted Offline single missions (36 votes [6.05%])
  5. Voted Offline campaigns (120 votes [20.17%])
  6. Mix of all (43 votes [7.23%])
  7. Online campaign (133 votes [22.35%])


  1. There is a huge amount of selection bias here. In the first place, those who post on forums are a tiny minority of the player base....

  2. Very good point. I haven't seen a survey of 'the silent majority' and it would be very interesting. Certainly we see a lot of downloads of our single player content for BOBII and CoD from this blog - 10,000 dowloads just this year alone. That indicates the single player sim community is alive and well!

  3. Why would forum users be biased to online play? Makes not sense. Forum users, when you look at several hundred, are just players like everyone else. This was not a small poll of just a few dozen, this was hundreds of players. I am not statistician but I bet it is significant.