Navigraph’s annual flight sim survey results released – 73% say they’re likely to purchase MSFS 2024

Navigraph has released the results of its Flight Sim Community Survey 2023, with almost 24k users responding.

The survey was a collaborative effort involving 58 prominent addon developers and key organizations in the flight simulation community, including MSFSAddons.com. This year’s results have revealed some interesting insights, with highlights including:

  • Microsoft Flight Simulator was the primary sim for 70% of respondents, ahead of X-Plane at 13%.
  • This year saw the announcement of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, the next iteration of MSFS. 73% of respondents said they were likely to purchase it when it’s released.
  • When asked what product release respondents were looking foreward to, the most common response was the PMDG 777 at 29%, well above the Fenix A319/A320/A321 in second place at 12%. 11% said the FlyByWire A380.

Navigraph’s survey’s have become an annual feature, beginning in 2018 and having occurred every year since. 2022’s saw a record number of respondents, at 25,400, with this year having a very slight decrease, down to 23,736.

It is worthing being somewhat cautious gleaning too much from the results – MSFS has, according to Microsoft, over 12 million users, which gives some idea as to the scale of the community in comparison to the survey’s number of respondents. Nonetheless, its insights serve as a snapshot as to the prevailing trends, sentiments, and priorities of the community.

The below covers some of the survey’s most noteworthy results.

Demographics and background

The age of respondents varied from 15 to 85 this year, with a “noticeable concentration around 20, accompanied by a noteworthy extension towards 85”, according to Navigraph. In line with previous surveys, the community appears to be majority male, with 97% of respondents. 1.3% of respondents were women.

34% of users were based in the USA, with 16% UK, 15% Germany, and 6% Canada.

Of respondents who stated they were employed, aerospace, computing, technology, and transportation were the most common industries users work in. 20.7% of respondents said they had a pilot license. Of these, over 80% said their “flight simulator interest [had] facilitated” their pilot training.

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7.7% of respondents said the “main purpose” of their use of flight simulation was to maintain skills and proficiency. Meanwhile 33% said it was “casual gaming”, with 42% saying it was motivated by their curiosity or interest in aviation.

Hardware

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The vast majority of respondents, at 92%, use a desktop computer to run flight simulators. 5% use a mobile device, with 2% using a gaming console. As stated before, while it is important to be cautious of gleaning too much from these results, this is nonetheless notable given MSFS is available on both PC and Xbox, and the prevailing trend of developers ensuring their products are compatible with both. While Microsoft has said at least 12 million users use MSFS, the split between PC and Xbox has not been released.

The most common graphics are with the Nvidia RTX 4090, at 14% if respondents, ahead of the RTX 3080 at 11%. The majority of respondents stated they had an Nvidia card, with just 4% saying they use AMD.

Simulators, aircraft use, and software

Microsoft Flight Simulator was the primary sim for 70% of respondents, ahead of X-Plane at 13%. Navigraph products dominated how users plan flights, with 78% using SimBrief, and 55% using Navigraph Charts.

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Among MSFS users, 43% “normally fly” the Fenix A320, with 40% flying the PMDG 737-800. When asked what 2023’s best floight sim product release was, PMDG’s 737 received the most mentions (11%), followed by the Fenix A320 at 9%. When users were asked what feature in an aircraft addon they value the most, 38% said “complexity of aircraft systems/systems depth”, whole 26% said “realism and authenticity”.

Of the users who purchase addons, 54% said they had bought from the MSFS in-game marketplace, ahead of SimMarket (45%) and Orbx (44%).

Under half of respondents said they had flown “online in an ATC network” in the past 12 months. Of those, VATSIM was by far the most popular, at 88%.

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Media

YouTube remains the most popular social media platform among respondents, with 85% saying they have consumed content from it. 66% responded with Discord, with Facebook in third place at 29%.

FSElite was the most popular source of media among respondents, with 44% of users saying they have visited it in the last 12 months. FlightSim.com was second, Avsim.com in third, and MSFSAddons in fourth.

The future

This year saw the announcement of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, the next iteration of MSFS. 73% of respondents said they were likely to purchase it when it’s released. Of that group, 27% of users said they were expecting performance and FPS optimisations from the sim.

When asked what product release respondents were looking foreward to, the most common response was the PMDG 777 at 29%, well above the Fenix A319/A320/A321 in second place at 12%. 11% said the FlyByWire A380.


While the above represents a summary of the survey’s results, the full report can be found here, and includes more detail on virtual airlines, VR, hardware, and other usage habits.