ACC in 2021: a year in (player count) numbers!

In 2021 (like in 2020) I kept track of the player numbers of Assetto Corsa Competizione (ACC). I published monthly updates detailing the rise, fall (and subsequent rise) of activity in what I think is the best racing simulator out there. Like I did last year for 2020, this post will be a summary of events and statistics taking the year as a whole.

First, I will review what happened in regards to player activity based on each quarter (Q1, Q2, Q3, and Q4) and explain notable peaks. Second, I will dive into my data to look for important statistics. Third, I’ll have a bit of fun with interesting (but unimportant) data which I could take from my data. And, to finish this post, I will look forward to what 2022 could, would, or should bring.

A short TL;DR in advance:

  • 2021 had a 44% higher average peak concurrent player count than 2020
  • The year started strong, but a lack of new content meant a steep decline over the summer.
  • When new content finally arrived, so did the players – resulting in a strong end of 2021 and outlook for 2022.

In this series of articles I analyze the playercounts from Assetto Corsa Competizione (ACC) using data from both steamdb and steamcharts. I implement the data into my own spreadsheets, creating my own graphics and tables.

2021 Q1 Reports

Monthly Reports

We start the year off with January. January had an average peak concurrent player count (from now on: PCPC) of 4501, which was a growth of 12%/483 over December 2020. January’s highest PCPC was 5250 on Saturday 9th, while its lowest was on Wednesday 13th (4099). Overall, January had a slight upward trend.

The second month, February, had an average PCPC of 4867, a growth of 8.1%/366 over January. Its highest PCPC (6239) was reached on February 10th, which saw the release of the British GT DLC. This would be the first time the record for PCPC was broken in 2021 (previously 5769 on November 18th, 2020). February’s lowest PCPC was on Wednesday 3rd, with 4268 people playing concurrently. Overall, this created an upward trend bringing the trendline from ~4750 towards 5000 PCPC.

March, the final month of Q1, was a month of consolidation. As the effect of the British GT DLC wore off, the PCPC normalized towards an average of 4565, a decrease of 6.2%/302 in average PCPC. The highest number encountered was 5050 (on Sunday 7th) whereas the lowest was 3970 (Wednesday 31st). The trend showed a slight decline, from ~4700 to ~4400 PCPC.

2021 Q2 Reports

Monthly Reports

Q2’s first month, April, saw the PCPC recover lost ground, bringing it halfway back to February’s numbers. An average of 4709 meant an increase of 3.2%/144. April’s highest was achieved on Saturday 17th with 5208 PCPC, while its lowest was on Wednesday 14th (4172). It had a slight upward trend again, from ~4600 towards ~4800.

May would again start out strong, with regular PCPC’s above 5K. Its highest of 5408 was achieved on Monday 17th. However, the second part of May started a downward trend which would, unfortunately, continue for the remaining part of Q2. On Saturday 29th, a PCPC of 3970 meant the first instance of it dipping below the 4K-line. Still, May’s average of 4849 was an increase of 3%/140, despite the downward trend from ~5200 to ~4500.

June would have been a dreadful month if not for the free weekend which boosted the PCPC in the first third of the month. On Sunday 6th a new PCPC record was achieved (the second time in 2021), with 6926 people playing ACC concurrently. Not long after though, on Wednesday 23rd, a low of 3179 PCPC showed where ACC was heading. Still, the free weekend caused an average of 4296, which was ‘just’ -11.4%/-553 over May but with a steep downward trend (5400 to 3200).

2021 Q3 Reports

Monthly Reports

While July itself did not see a big decline during the month itself (though the trendline did drop from ~4K to ~3K), its average PCPC marks the biggest decline since I’ve been keeping track of these statistics. The average of 3412 means a change of -20.6%/-884. On Friday 23rd, the lowest PCPC of the year was recorded, with only 2767 players playing simultaneously.

August thankfully ended the decline of player activity. With an average of 3560, we saw a slight increase in activity, a rise of 4.3%/148. The highest peak was achieved on Monday 30th, while the lowest (2932) was on Friday the 13th. Talk about unlucky. And yet, there was an upward trend within the month, with the trendline pointing from ~3400 to ~3700.

September consolidated this slight recovery and strengthened it, with an average of 3839. Which is an increase of 7.8%/279. A weird, incidental peak on Monday, September 6th (4823) creates a slight downward trend from ~4K to ~3.7K, but if said peak was later in the month the trendline would’ve been reversed. September’s lowest PCPC was 3429 (Wednesday 29th), much higher than the previous two months which means the player numbers started to be more consistent again.

2021 Q4 Reports

Monthly Reports

October continued the consolidation of player activity. Its highest PCPC of 4231 on Monday 11th is only 821 higher than its lowest of 3410 on Wednesday 6th. This variance is the lowest of all of 2021. The resulting average sits at 3800, a slight decrease (1%/39) of the average peak concurrent player count. A slightly positive trendline can be seen in the graph above.

November started strong but showed signs of decline halfway through with the lowest peak of 3273 on Friday 12th. However, this all changed with the release of update v1.8 creating the new record PCPC of 7223 concurrent players on Wednesday 24th. Due to the slow start of the month, the average was ‘just’ a 10.8%/412 increase over October.

December was riding on the coattails of this update, with regular peaks above 5K. Towards the end of the month (and the year) the PCPC started to be more erratic: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are largely to blame. On Christmas Eve, just 3126 players played concurrently. However, in between these holidays, many people have time off work, so on Thursday 30th the month’s highest PCPC of 5276 was recorded. The average of 4595 means an increase of 9.1%/383, ending the year on a strong note.

Figure 1: Daily peak concurrent player counts (PCPC) for 2021

Taken as a whole, 2021 showed a very strong start. The first notable peak is for the British GT DLC release in February. The second is the free weekend in early May. The third peak is the release of version 1.8 at the end of November.

Between the second and third peaks, a noticeable valley can be discerned, with the low-point in July. While the numbers recovered a bit in the following months, it would take for the 1.8 update to drop to recover the rest of the ground lost.

The probable cause for this lack of player activity could be found in multiple areas.

  • 1. Summer holidays meant that people would be spending their time on holiday.
  • 2. Warm weather could make it too hot for people to drive online.
  • 3. And, a lack of Corona measures could mean that people were (albeit briefly) able to look for activities elsewhere.
  • 4. Furthermore, a provable lack of content updates is definitely one of the reasons for this occurrence.

While reason number 4 is definitely contributing to the temporary lack of activity online, reasons 1, 2, and 3 cannot be discounted, especially when compared to 2020’s activity. As can be seen in figure 2 to the right, then too a sizeable dip in activity can be observed which only ended towards Q4 of 2020 – when the second wave of Corona hit Western Europe and most countries went into lockdown.

Figure 2: Daily peak concurrent player counts for 2021 (red) vs 2020 (grey)
Figure 3: Monthly PCPC averages

Taking a look at the monthly averages (figure 3), the summer decline is clear to see. However, the late-autumn recovery is too. Compared to 2020 (figure 4) the second half of the year shows a remarkable parallel development. This could very well be an indication for the upcoming year.

Figure 4: Monthly PCPC averages of 2021 (red) vs 2020 (grey)
Figure 5: Absolute PCPC growth
Figure 6: PCPC growth of 2021 (red) vs 2020 (grey)

The development of the average PCPC is perhaps better understood when looking at the absolute growth (figures 5 and 6 above) or relative (percentual) growth in figures 7 and 8 below. The graphs above show the net change of average daily peak concurrent player count (PCPC), whereas the bottom graphs show how big of a change that is relative to the previous month.

Figure 7: Relative PCPC growth
Figure 8: Relative PCPC growth of 2021 (red) vs 2020 (grey)
Figure 9: weekly average PCPC

The graph above shows the average PCPC on a weekly basis. This shows exactly how much influence the free weekend (week 22 and 23) had on the average PCPC. We could try to calculate the average of weeks 22 and 23 if there had not been a free weekend:

  • Week 22: ([week21] * 2 + [week24] * 1) / 3 = (4433 * 2 + 3687) / 3 = 4184
  • Week 23: ([week21] * 1 + [week24] * 2) / 3 = (4433 + 3687 * 2) / 3 = 3935

If we’d take this to be the actual average, that would mean the free weekend caused an increase of 1108 or 26.5% in its first weekend, with a lingering effect of 752 or 19% on the week alone – even though the free weekend only ran from Friday night until Monday evening.

Figure 10: Average player activity (dots) versus average PCPC (solid) in 2021

Another interesting metric is the one above, which measures the peak concurrent player count (PCPC) as taken from SteamDB and tracks it against the daily average player activity (APA) from SteamCharts. Normally, these should develop in parallel to each other. But, they don’t always do. Unfortunately, it’s rather impossible to point to a direct cause, but we could formulate some correlations:

  • If the lines get closer, it could mean people are player for longer
  • If the lines get closer, it could mean that non-peak timezones (non-European) play more

The graph to the right shows a ratio by dividing the PCPC by the average player activity (APA) and compares them with 2020. A higher number means the PCPC is growing faster than the APA. Interestingly, the ratio in the second part of the year is showing a nearly identical development to 2020. This too could be interesting to see develop in 2022.

Figure 11: Average:PCPC-ratio of 2021 (red) vs 2020 (grey)
A little round-up:
  • The average PCPC for 2021 was 4262.2, up from 2963.5 in 2020
  • This is an increase of 43.8% or 1298.7 over 2020
  • The highest (daily) PCPC of 7223 was achieved on Wednesday, November 24th
  • The lowest (daily) PCPC of 2767 was achieved on Friday, July 23rd February had the highest PCPC, with an average of 4867
  • February had the highest (monthly) average PCPC, with an average of 4867
  • July had the lowest (monthly) average PCPC, with an average of 3412
  • October had the lowest variance between the highest (4231) and lowest (3410) PCPC of just 821
  • November had the highest variance between the highest (7223) and lowest (3273) PCPC of 3950
  • Week 47 had the highest (weekly) average PCPC with 5420
  • Week 29 had the lowest (weekly) average PCPC with 3062

Other random observations

Now it’s time for the not-necessarily-important-but-still-interesting stuff. We’ll kick of with the question: which day would be the best day to race on if you want to have a lot of people to race against?

Well, the answer might surprise you. It’s Monday.

However, maybe more surprisingly to some: the lowest activity can be found on Friday-evening.

Figure 12: Average PCPC per day

As stated earlier, the average daily PCPC of 2021 came to 4262. Mondays have an average PCPC of 4422, 160/3.6% more than the daily average. Fridays, with an average of 4125, are 137/3.3% below the mean average. It is, however, rather close with Wednesday. And unfairly so.

Because Wednesday is cheating.

The two big DLC/content updates both went live on a Wednesday. Were we to subtract those days from Wednesday’s average, it would’ve been -190/-4.7%.

Figure 13: Average daily deviation from the mean per day
Figure 14: Average daily deviation from the mean per day in percentage

Another fun way of looking at this would be to see how often a particular day would be the worst or best day in terms of activity. And of course, I’ll provide that too in the graphs below (figures 15 and 16).

Monday is by far the day with the highest activity within the week. Interestingly, only 5 of the 21 were scored in the first part of the year, with most of them taking place when monthly activity was lowest. A probable reason for this might be that a lot of leagues use Monday as a day for their weekly races.

Another fun fact: Wednesday scores “best day of the week” 2 times. The first was, of course, the release of the British GT DLC, the second was the release of v1.8.

Figure 15: days of the week with most activity in 2021
Figure 16: days of the week with least activity in 2021

The “worst day of the week” is not as clear as the best is, as there are two distinct peaks on Wednesday and one on Friday. What is perhaps most interesting about this graph, is the fact that Monday was never the worst day of the week in 2021. Talk about consistent scoring by Monday.

Who hates Mondays? Definitely Kunos’ game coordinator server.

The final graph I’m going to leave you with is the one below, which I also found quite interesting.

Figure 17: PCPC over the holidays, 2021 (red) vs 2020 (grey)

This graph shows the development of the PCPC in the last two weeks of 2021 (red) and 2020 (grey). I thought it was interesting how not only do they share the same downward peaks (caused by Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve), but also the same upward peaks on December 23rd, December 27th and December 30th, even though these days did not fall on the same day of the week as the year before.

Looking ahead to 2022!

What will 2022 bring us? Well, it will at least bring us a few DLC’s. Hints have been dropped towards at least a GT World Challenge America DLC-pack as Kunos used Austin’s ‘Circuit of the Americas’ in its teaser. The cars in this trailer also hinted towards new content; the new Lamborghini Supertrofeo, Ferrari Challenge Evo, Porsche Supercup and BMW M2 might be released separately or in a combined DLC-pack.

If Kunos would want to spread their DLC releases a bit more over the year to keep activity high throughout the year, they’d be wise to release the cars separately at a low price.

If they were to release them bundled, which would be the first DLC to be released would be anyone’s guess at this point in time. However, the cars shown in the teaser trailer seem ready for release, whereas the trailer only showed one track. On the other hand, the last track(s) to be released was the British GT tracks in February 2021, meaning the track-modeling team might have already finished work on their next project.

Would 2022 be better than 2021? I honestly don’t know. We did end the year on a strong note, but Kunos and their publisher 505 Games need to keep the momentum going. They were unable to do so in 2021, as evident by the lack of activity up until the release of v1.8 – a whopping 10 months after the previous big update. In my opinion, it was released at least 3 months too late.

I don’t blame anyone for this – what isn’t done can’t be released. Kunos’ team hasn’t grown, it is still (roughly) the same group of people who released the Early Access in September 2018. Being a subsidiary of 505 Games, they’d have to get permission to increase their staff size.

Whatever will be the case for 2022 – if you want to be the first one to see it develop you are the right address. I can’t wait to provide you guys another year of ACC related player activity stats. And I will force them down your throat, whether you like it or not!

Overview & Previous Articles


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