This is a “Request for Comments” post—please discuss the proposal in the comments. Per our standard procedure, if you comment asking about the Oculus Rift, your comment will be piped to /dev/null.

X-Plane started collecting anonymous usage data in version 10.40. I used some of that data to compile this infographic you might have seen around the internet. It’s fun and colorful and has some interesting tidbits of data. However, just because I thought that those statistics were noteworthy doesn’t mean that you did.

So, is there anything else you, as third party developers, want to know? Is there information missing from the infographic that would help you decide where to put your development energy? Do you want more specific details about anything mentioned in the infographic? We have all kinds of statistics available, from what languages are used the most, to the most popular screen resolution.

If you’d like to have more information, how often would you like to see it, and what format would be the most helpful? Spreadsheets are easy and can be processed often, and we could throw some graphs in there to make them less boring.

Any of this sound appealing to you? Let us know in the comments!

About Jennifer Roberts

Jennifer came to X-Plane to update the manuals and stayed for the bug testing. You'll most likely see her on the Q&A site or answering bug reports.

30 comments on “RFC: X-Plane Usage Data

  1. Thanks for the info.
    Maybe once a quarter would be nice. It seems as though things are changing fast and it would be good to see if any trends are emerging.

      1. Linux may be nice, but it is for geeks only. As far as your “and always will be” is concerned, who are you to predict future developments in this fast changing world of ours, let alone ‘always’, meaning forever …

        1. I think you totally missed the joke. The original line is “AI is the technology of the future and always will be” – it’s a barb aimed at AI researchers, who have been predicting that AI is almost ready to be a commercial force for years and years, only to find their estimates were too optimistic. My comment is a co-opting of this line.

        2. You might overlook, that there is a nice “little” game changer which is really changing the game … ehm … what ever.
          What I mean is Steam with Steam OS (which is just another Linux distribution). With many hundred Linux / Steam OS compatible games readily available from their store, and many more added to the list every week … the barrier for many users is vastly lowered to use Linux / Steam OS … And I have read on a few “hard core” gamin sites that there is indeed some “change” going on inside the heads of gamers as they are opening up to Linux because there are more and more things which they not like in the Windows ecosystem and nor do they have to stay there with Steam giving them a real option.
          So … even though Linux might achieve world domination anytime soon … times are nevertheless changing (at the moment, in favor of the Linux ecosystem).

  2. Mmm… Something about the use of AI (numbers of aircrafts, etc.)? And some data about the source of weather used? (real weather, etc.)

  3. A) When there are two GPUs in a machine, like in a Macbook Pro, do they count both, if not which one counts?

    B) Same graphics for the mobile version would be interesting.

    1. We would get analytics data for whichever GPU is actually running, I believe. Unless you’re doing something really weird to force the low-power one, it would be the discrete, non-Intel GPU.

  4. Other than screen resolution information as you have suggested, it might be useful to see how many people have their settings adjusted at the high end of the graphics scale compared to the low end (no I don’t know where you would draw a dividing line – but perhaps using the now built-in settings as a guide).
    It could give designers an idea of just how important minuscule amounts of detail really are for most users.

  5. Regarding rendering settings, I think the most interesting stats would be:

    -horizontal screen resolution
    -number of objects (the single setting that most influences scenery complexity)
    -use of HDR

  6. Wow, this data is priceless. I’m probably one of X-Plane’s newest and youngest payware scenery developers and have a hard time deciding which airport to develop. Instead of just the top ten, a list of atleast the top 100 most popular airports would be very helpful in my decision making process. Statistics about the use of the runways follow terrain contours, gritty detail textures and HDR rendering checkboxes, as well as the amount of VRAM available, would be really helpful in deciding what approach to take in developing the airport itself. As for the frequency, I think it should atleast be quarterly. Format doesn’t matter as long as we can get the data.

    1. I can already tell you that I much prefer to have runways following contours on personally. I own several payware airports that require it to be off and that actually very much puts me off them.

      As far as I know, you CAN make a custom and good-looking runway without that need, so I would heavily advice making it compatible with the function, even if that did mean no custom runway textures.

      1. “I can already tell you that I much prefer to have runways following contours on personally”

        Seriously, real world runways have contours. I explicitly picked XPlane over the other options because of this. It feels like a fake computer simulation otherwise!

  7. Hi Ben,
    maybe a stupid question but does the demo version send the usage data too?
    I don’t think that, but I don’t recall I read something about it in the blog (or somewhere else) and I wasn’t able to find anything even doing a search (tried it right now) so I wonder if the infographic is ‘restricted’ to the licensed version usage or not.

    1. If the person has allowed it, yes we can collect demo usage data as well. There is an box to opt in in the latest demo installer, as well as in the demo’s Operations & Warnings screen.

      1. Thank you Jennifer.
        Doesn’t this risk to somehow false the usage data?
        For example, I see KSEA is the most used airport, couldn’t this result been influenced by the demo usage data?

        1. In this specific case, yes, KSEA’s popularity may be skewed somewhat by demo usage. If (when) we provide more updates as discussed here, we could separate the data from demo users and full-sim users.

          1. Yes, splitting the data between demo and full-sim would give third-party developers a better idea of the real usage, thank you.

  8. 1. average flight duration
    2. flights starting from previous location vs. flights starting from new location

    It may be interesting if people do flight tours /use tools such as fseconomy for immersion or always decide new on dep/dest when launching x-plane

  9. Nvidia and AMD and Intel have many different graphic cards and chipsets and a wide range of cost within their respective lines. It would be interesting to see which graphic cards or in the case of Intel, which graphics chipsets are most popular.

    Also, I would be curious to see how many and what percentage of X-Plane 10.40+ licensees have allowed anonymous data to be sent to Laminar.

    Thank-you for this.

  10. A monthly report should do OK, details about OS and sim version could support decisions when to ditch support for older versions. Usage of online traffic a la Vatsim, IVAO vs. AI traffic could backup decisions about investments in either direction.

  11. Here is what I Would like to see for usage data,
    mileage flown per session or length of average session.
    Number of cross-country flights.
    Number of uninterrupted takeoff and landing sessions .
    Breakdown of resolution settings.
    Field of view settings.
    Multiple screens versus singlescreen
    breakdown of individual graphical settings.
    Number of sessions in instructor mode.
    Number of sessions from higher end professional series.
    Simulator versus home use
    I could probably think of more…
    But this will do for now

  12. No developer here, but thinking about viability of data in general it would be good to have a clearer picture of user groups (just like separating demo users and full version users). X-Plane users are probably very heterogenous.
    Data like: 10% (25, 50) of users with the most flights account for X% of total flights and X% of total flight hours…could be useful in this regard.
    The average user is a chimera.

    Best Flo

  13. X-Plane actual usage would be the most important data… How many users actually do use use X-Plane on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. It is fine to note that the X-Plane membership of 350,000 or therewith but what are the actual numbers.

    The correct data can be used for when and where X-Plane usage is at its highest and at its lowest during the year and data can see usage trends.

    I agree in that data from the demo would certainly skew the main data, the demo should be left out of the main user base dynamics. SD X-PlaneReviews

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