ACC in 2020: a year in numbers!

Over the year 2020 (with the exception of January and February), I’ve written posts about the player statistics of Assetto Corsa Competizione (ACC). Using data publically available from both steamdb and steamcharts, I’ve created my own charts and talked about major developments and probably causes.

Now that it’s 2021, it is time to look back and reflect upon these statistics, and derive what this might mean for ACC in 2021. First, I’ll discuss each month, after which we’ll look at the year as a whole. If you don’t feel like reading it all (this is gonna be a long one), here’s a TL;DR: 2020 was good.

January

2020 started out slow for ACC. The trendline for January’s graph shows a steady increase from ~1400 to ~1550 players. With an average peak concurrent player count of 1468, this was still a sharp increase over December 2019 (which averaged out at 1104). The increase amounted to a positive change 33%, possibly due to people getting the game (or a wheel) over Christmas the week prior to January.

February

February is where we see the first sharp increase in our graphs, due to the Intercontinental GT Championship DLC pack (featuring four tracks and a whole lot of car skins) releasing. Peaking out 3297 concurrent players on February 4th, the peak playercount slowly stabilizes over the rest of the month.

What’s more important though, is the fact that the new peak playercount seems to even out at ~2000 players. On average, February had 2159 concurrent (an increase of 47% over January), but this is ofcourse skewed by the DLC-pack releasing.

March

March initially started with peaks just below or above 2000 concurrent players. However, just when the real-life racing seasons were about to start worldwide, the Coronavirus started to break and shut down our societies. Racing was cancelled. March was also the first month I started keeping track of the player numbers. Read my first post in this series by clicking this link.

A lot of people went for their racing fix to simulations like ACC, showing a steep upward trend. 3000 concurrent players suddenly seemed within reach.

But, whereas ACC gained only 1.44% (2190 average peak) on February’s numbers (which were boosted by the DLC release), Assetto Corsa (1) was the biggest winner in terms of player activity. Probably due to a lower pricepoint, the inclusion in a Humble Bundle pack and more options in cars and tracks, AC1 went from regular peaks of 4,000 to 8,000 within a month.

April

April continued the meteoric rise in (concurrent) player numbers, with the lowest peaks being just below 2500. For comparison, the highest peak in January was 1751 concurrent players. The highest peak in April? 3410. Nearly double.

The gap that real world racing left was filled by (F1-) drivers streaming their digital racing. Fans flocked to buy wheels, leading to worldwide shortages. Leclerc, Norris and Albon had streamed themselves playing ACC on Twitch. The SRO (organizer of the series ACC is based on) used the platform to organize a championship featuring both real world and sim racers. This culminated in an average of 2860 peak concurrent players, and a 30% rise over March.

At this point, the hype around (and inherent potential of) ACC really started coming together. You can read my report on April here.

May

May saw the first signs of consolidation of the player numbers. The final weeks of April had brought the peak concurrent numbers over 3000 and it stayed there for large parts of May. The average for May came to 3301 peak concurrent, which was still a 15% rise over April.

Here we can see another big jump at the end of the month, bringing the peak concurrent to over 4000. Rereading my May report explains that this was because of ACC’s first free weekend. People still on the fence about buying ACC had the opportunity to try it out without dishing out money first. This meant a strong ending to the month.

June

June put the brakes on the development of ACC’s playercount. The downward trend meant an 8% decrease in average peak numbers (from 3301 to 3021). I don’t think the free weekend brought Kunos the numbers they were aiming for, but we can’t forget that these numbers are still way up from the start of the year.

Furthermore, other reasons might explain this slight downward trend. A lot of countries opened up their Corona protocols, while the weather outside kept improving for the northern hemisphere. Less people spent their evenings behind their computer, which is reflected (I think) in these numbers.

June’s report is available here.

July

July continued the stabilization of the concurrent players numbers around 3000. At least, Initially.

On July 15th, the long awaited GT4-DLC released, and a peak of 5593 was achieved. This meant a new record, breaking the old record set on release day back in 2019. Sadly, just two weeks after the release, the peak concurrent dipped yet again below the 3000 mark. Reasons for this are probably the same to the ones listed under June: nice weather, no lockdown.

The average player count recovered from June’s dip by increasing nearly 10%, putting the average 3316 (which is 15 higher than the previous best, May). My report on July can be found here.

August

August continued the slight downward trend, seeing slight dips below 2500 concurrent players. The monthly average went down to 2685 (a decrease of 19%). The warm August nights meant that even I put off racing for some time, simply due to the fact that it got too hot to race in my little room.

August had no sales, no free weekends, no DLC releases and no updates to the game to bring people to play the game. The guys over at Kunos were probably enjoying a much needed summer break, as were the players. August’s full report can be found here as well.

September

Whereas August showed a downward trend, September put a stop to that. The trendline, as seen above, has a (very small) upward angle. The average came to 2985, 11% higher than the month before. The summer holiday was over, and the temperatures went down.

This month could be seen as pivotal for ACC. Had there been a further decline, this could’ve meant that people were losing interest. Instead, September proved that ACC’s popularity was enduring even when not much was happening in terms of updates or big worldly events, as can be read by my report on September.

October

October continued where September left off, averaging out around 3000 concurrent peak players. However, you can see something happen during the second part of October, leading to the final day of the month reaching over 4000 players.

This was, most likely, the effects of the second lockdown. In most European countries, the Covid-levels were back on the rise prompting governments to shut down their countries left and right. This meant people had to stay inside once again, and once again look to ACC for their nightly entertainment.

Another reason was the release of version 1.5.9 on the 29th. This came accompanied with a change to the special events system in the game, adding loads of scenario’s for people to sink their teeth in to try and improve their times on the leaderboards. However, the upward trend had started well before this.

October had an average 3220, which meant a rise of 8% over September. This was still below July’s 3316, but the upward trend remained promising as I wrote in October’s report.

November

November was a storming month for ACC. Boosted by the new special events, the peak player count further rose as the result of the surprise 2020 DLC, containing one new track (Imola) and two updated cars (the evo versions of the Mercedes AMG and Ferrari 488) as well as the official skins for the 2020 cars.

The release of this DLC once again broke the all-time record for concurrent players (set in July), bringing it as high as 5769 concurrent players. The second peak (on the 28th) was caused by the start of the Steam Autumn Sale, dropping the price of the base game and its DLC drastically.

The average peak rose to 4314 concurrent players, which is a whopping 34% increase over October. Read more in the report on November.

December

December started on a high due to the continuation of the Autumn sale, but stayed above the 3500 line for most of the month. Only once did it drop below that line drastically: December 24th, commonly known as Christmas Eve. Even simracers have family with whom they need to spend time with.

Christmas time also brings two things reliably. Presents and the Steam Winter Sale. The numbers quickly rose again, as (new) simracers started using their newly received wheels and/or Steam giftcards. This meant the average for December was just above 4000 (4018), a slight decrease over November by 7%. Read more in December’s report.

Summarizing 2020

2020 was a good year for simracing, and especially so for Assetto Corsa Competizione. The graph above shows all data points for 2020 on a day-to-day basis. It shows the humble beginnings with average peaks at 1500, the release of the IGTC-DLC shortly thereafter, and the boom brought on by Covid close behind. It also shows the mega peak caused by the release of the GT4’s, and the subsequent slump late summer. The recovery in autumn and winter is encouraging.

Over 366 days, the average comes down to 2964 peak players. Though it is an interesting tidbit, this number is ultimately a bit meaningless. This is due to the huge change within the year.

As the graph above is quite incomprehensible in terms of general trends, I also kept a graph showing weekly averages as seen below.

This makes the data more manageable by cutting out the incidental peaks caused by the weekends or small updates. It is clear to see that after every big update or DLC release, there are about four weeks of gradual decline before the upward trend is once again continued.

The biggest week is week number 47 (November 16th to 22nd) with an average peak of 4763. This is the week the 2020 DLC dropped and the biggest peak was created.

The graph above shows the growth percentage on a monthly basis (compared to the month before). Compared to December 2019, December 2020 shows a growth of 264%. This means the daily playerbase nearly trippled in compared to the same time last year.

To put this in larger context, here are the lifetime averages of both peak and average (non-peak) player counts.

This shows the long way ACC has come ever since the first version released in Steam’s Early Access. From the humble beginnings to release (v1.0), to now v1.6.6 and the gigantic rise in player numbers.

Looking forward (to 2021)

With all this knowledge under our belt, we can look forward to 2021. We already know the British GT is coming in ‘winter 2021’ (I personally suspect somewhere in February), but what’s next?

I don’t think Assetto Corsa Competizione will show the same growth in 2021 as in 2020, but I think by the end of next year we’d be looking at perhaps a 4500 average, with regular peaks above 6000 players.

As I understand it, ACC is under constant performance review by their publisher, 505 games. They call the shots if any further investments in regards to DLC are made. It wouldn’t be wise to invest money to create a DLC when there’s nobody around to buy it.

What I can also say from my snooping around is that ACC has been exceeding these financial expectations. And, knowing how games get developed, Kunos might already be laying the groundwork for their next DLC pack after the British GT. There is one caveat to this: if the British GT underperforms, funding might be cut short.

In 2021 we’ll be able to take on the awesome hills of Oulton Park. Picture credits: Snaplap.net

However, if the current trend is anything to go by, I realistically expect three DLC’s for 2021:

Whatever the summer DLC could be, it would have be a series under SRO’s portfolio (so no, Nords is off the table). Personally, I’d love an GT World Challenge Asia pack due to the tracks (Sepang would be awesome), but a GT World Challenge America DLC would probably be more likely because the US is a larger potential market for simracing.

However, don’t discount a possible GT World Challenge Australia DLC, since that series has recently been acquired by SRO and they might see the need to boost its visibility among fans. Or the newly created GT2 class, featuring less downforce dependent cars but with more engine power than your standard GT3’s.

Even though it’s fun to speculate on these matters, we won’t know what the future brings until official word gets out. Maybe next year, when writing a 2021 version of this post, I’ll reflect upon this post and laugh at my naivety.

What I can say without sounding overly optimistic: the future for Assetto Corsa Competizione sure looks bright!

4 Responses

  1. MadDog SimRacing says:

    Thanks Felix. Good Stuff!

    I hope ACC steps it up in VR. I would like that to be one of their surprises!

    My Quest 2 is much better on PC2.

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