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is the airport scenery market really that lucrative?

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So, everyday a new airport is added to the list of available airports. What does this mean? That , in theory, the entire list of the sim's airports is being  made over. To what end? Are airport designers appealing to those users who live near them? I just don't see where all of this leads. Regions perhaps, but discreet airports? How many airports  can one individual realistically buy before realizing the tremendous cost that these represent?

I'm just wondering whether one of these days all of these airports will run out of buyers.

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In FSX alone I have about 500 unique airports and I've been simming for over 20 years... there are a lot more airports that I don't have simply because I don't fly to those areas. There are over 24,000 unique airports in FS counting VFR and IFR airports. The current AIRAC lists over 13500 airports. Does that give you some idea?

DJ

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I guess while people want to buy the scenery's then people will keep making and charging for them.

Demand and Supply?  Long may it last - I guess that people may pay lots if they buy lots of airports but that's their choice.  There's still a lot of amazing freeware or trial versions of payware ones out there that we can all get by on :)

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Once you buy one and see what it's like to depart/land at a fleshed-out premium airfield, you're hooked. At least, I was.

It goes with the hobby; like a railroader who has nice liveries and wants some nice track and scenery to enhance their enjoyment.

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I don't think airport scenery is very profitable compared to other types of addons, beyond major international hubs and holiday destinations the appeal of any particular airport is fairly localised.

If I make a good rendition of a popular aircraft, most simmers globally would be interested (e.g. 737 or PA-28). If I make a good but smaller airport for that aircraft to visit (e.g. Leeds Bradford with 3.6m passengers per year) my market is going to be 75%+ people that live within 400 miles. If I do an airport in a less wealthy country with fewer simmers (e.g. parts of Africa) that doesn't leave many potential purchasers within that scope.  If I make a GA only grass field (e.g. Beverley) then the market shrinks even more since the heavy metal folks can't use it.

The effort and cost involved in doing a detailed airport is less than most aircraft, which somewhat offsets the smaller potential market. But, for example, I could make a replacement texture addon that has global appeal (e.g. something to update default airport buildings) and that'd only be the same effort as making a few airports but I'd sell a lot more. Same goes for a lot of utility tools.

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Besides those living in the region there's another group willing to buy even smaller airpoirts, and that's the collectors. There's a not so limited group of people who buy anything or nearly anything from a certain make. That's definitely the case with ORBX followers (count me in) who even buy small grass strips out in nowhere land by ORBX to complete their collection. Usually ORBX airports just have that "certain something" atmosphere wherever they are situated. 

On the other side of the scale there are big hub collectors who buy anything from, say, FlightBeam as they know it's been always first class.

Kind regards, Michael

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12 hours ago, RichieFly said:

Once you buy one and see what it's like to depart/land at a fleshed-out premium airfield, you're hooked. At least, I was.

It goes with the hobby; like a railroader who has nice liveries and wants some nice track and scenery to enhance their enjoyment.

Very true. Often at an FPS cost. One of life's trade offs I guess. Hard to find that balance some time.

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The flightsim addon market is often overrated. A small developer can expect to make around $3000 - 5000 a year if his addons are reasonably popular. It helps when he manages to sell them through ORBX, Aerosoft or the likes. An unknown dev trying to sell on his own may be looking at less than that. Then again, some are very lucky and land the big hit right with their first product- and vanish again after a few years. Only very few developers can make a sustained living based on this market alone, and even the most well known companies are actually very small (10 people is already a large outfit).

Don't be fooled by all those lists of best sold addons in the shops. In some categories it is enough to sell 2 (two) licenses per week to stay at the top of the list.

Best regards

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An airport scenery developer doesn't need a huge team though; a one man band or a couple of peeps is usually enough and it needn't be a full time thing unless you're wanting to release big airports fairly regularly. I don't disagree there are collectors and the "brand loyal" but I don't think they make up much of the sales volume with the odd exception.

Developments which require more coding (e.g. airliners) I can understand the need for a team with individual specialisms and the costs that brings.

Your figures could be accurate for most flight sim addon developers but there are a few (who I shan't name because I got in trouble before) that seem to be doing very well. There's certainly no shame in having fewer than 10 staff, much of the economy is built on those small business!

Oh and as a side note thank you for your addon manager @Lorby_SI, it's really made my migration to P3D much easier

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To fly AG, I have all orbx airports for the fun.

For liners have a lot of sceneries of big airports...

So I'm a real compulsive addict of addons... is half of mine pleasure in sim because is a good reason to fly unknown countries.

Perhaps a lot, as me, hate the old basic airports of the fsx or p3d. Potential for creators who do great jobs.

 

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17 hours ago, ckyliu said:

An airport scenery developer doesn't need a huge team though; a one man band or a couple of peeps is usually enough and it needn't be a full time thing unless you're wanting to release big airports fairly regularly. I don't disagree there are collectors and the "brand loyal" but I don't think they make up much of the sales volume with the odd exception.

Developments which require more coding (e.g. airliners) I can understand the need for a team with individual specialisms and the costs that brings.

Your figures could be accurate for most flight sim addon developers but there are a few (who I shan't name because I got in trouble before) that seem to be doing very well. There's certainly no shame in having fewer than 10 staff, much of the economy is built on those small business!

Oh and as a side note thank you for your addon manager @Lorby_SI, it's really made my migration to P3D much easier

 

18 hours ago, Lorby_SI said:

The flightsim addon market is often overrated. A small developer can expect to make around $3000 - 5000 a year if his addons are reasonably popular. It helps when he manages to sell them through ORBX, Aerosoft or the likes. An unknown dev trying to sell on his own may be looking at less than that. Then again, some are very lucky and land the big hit right with their first product- and vanish again after a few years. Only very few developers can make a sustained living based on this market alone, and even the most well known companies are actually very small (10 people is already a large outfit).

Don't be fooled by all those lists of best sold addons in the shops. In some categories it is enough to sell 2 (two) licenses per week to stay at the top of the list.

Best regards

If that developer has only spent 10 hours on developing the product and from that makes $9000 (say 3 years life) he has been well rewarded.  I know the time figure is more..especially for hobyist developers who do not always work at a proffessional time rate but it is the effective time for the product that counts, not I took 5 years developing this.

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19 minutes ago, harrry said:

 

If that developer has only spent 10 hours on developing the product and from that makes $9000 (say 3 years life) he has been well rewarded.  I know the time figure is more..especially for hobyist developers who do not always work at a proffessional time rate but it is the effective time for the product that counts, not I took 5 years developing this.

There is not much that can be done in 10 hours. A halfway decent payware scenery or aircraft that people will actually want to buy will require an effort of several hundred hours. Thousands for a really good one. 

As a frame of reference: creating the FireFighter X was an effort of 1600 hours to date by a professional programmer with 35 years of experience.

It is what it is - your chance to become one of the successful "few" as a developer is very very low. All that you can hope for is a little compensation for your efforts. Anyone who is investing large amounts of money into the addon market is taking an awful risk. Just look around you, this very webseite. Look past the total number of threads or posts and check out the actual number of views = clicks that those threads are getting. Cut those numbers down significantly to account for people returning to the same thread a couple of times. Now cut them down again to about 5-10% and you have a good estimate of the potential paying customer base. Compared to the numbers that we used to have 10 years ago, I find this depressing.

Best regards

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I was a little tongue in cheek with that. I think however the Firefighter X is not comperable to some of the airports that have been put up for sale, I have not bought that although I considered it as it looks interesting but it is not the kind of flying I like doing.  I do like missions though.  I have seen though many low quality airports that would only take a few days to make by anyone competant,  Fine as freeware but they still expected full prices. On the other hand developements like the forthcoming Helgoland Scenery obviously is worth the pricethough it may be the developer will not get as many sales as he would if it had been Heathrow or San Fransisco.

Sad to see you consider the base declining though.

 

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5 minutes ago, harrry said:

I do like missions though.

The addon in question has nothing to do with missions, it is purely programmatic. 30.000 lines of C# code, 2000 of C++ and a few other assets.  

Best regards

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OK  situations.  I know about the code....not the details....

I was using the missions in the generic sense, not a mission using Specifix FSX or P3D scripting.

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3 minutes ago, harrry said:

OK  situations.  I know about the code....not the details....

I was using the missions in the generic sense, not a mission using Specifix FSX or P3D scripting.

Hello Harry,

no worries. It is just that this is one of the biggest issues that I have, that people think these addons are just another type of missions generator or compilation. They are not. 

Best regards

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10 hours is a couple of nice aircraft repaints (using a paint kit), nothing more. Maybe 3 simpler repaints.

2 hours ago, Lorby_SI said:

Compared to the numbers that we used to have 10 years ago, I find this depressing.

I didn't realise volumes had tailed off so much; I suppose the end of MS Aces and the subsequent lack of publicity and new releases probably reduced hobby newcomers to a trickle. And now the market is fragmented between the different FSX spin-offs (plus those who migrated to Xplane), which in the case of P3D is not really accessible to newbies.

I think some developers are also partly responsible though, the price of some recommended products presents very high barriers to entry for casual users looking to move their flight simulation up to the next level (on top of the already steep although unavoidable learning curve). The fact the FSX/P3D base needs so many addons just to get it looking reasonable by contemporary standards also doesn't help.

I'd never thought of it before, but the supply of new customers (money) for developers is probably more dependent on FSW than most of us realise.

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The lack of chatter in flight sim forums shouldn't be an indication of its popularity. For example, there were around 85000 Steam members who ran FSX:SE in the past two weeks.

http://steamspy.com/app/314160

Consider the P3D and FSX boxed users and you've got a large crowd - and a large market.

 

I'm not a fan of add-on airports that go beyond the low-fi freeware stuff, especially those with photorealistic elements. Although they're certainly nice to look at.

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Regarding the time required to make scenery, I just want to input some info here, having made a few myself. To make a simple building, say a hanger with four walls and two pitched roofs, the simplest hangar imaginable, the procedure is:

Find photo information, on google earth or websites like Flickr or by down loading a YouTube video. If you are lucky, give that an hour and a half. If you visit and take them yourself then it takes longer. Make up the photo textures using Photoshop, which can be simple, or (and this is more likely) if there are parked cars in the way of the view and nothing was taken at 90 degrees on then it can easily take over an hour of cut and paste etc. Let us say an hour and a half again, including the night time textures. Use FS Design Studio (or similar) to create the building shape (only 5 parts) and "attach" the textures, then load it into SceneGenX (which is what I use to make scenery) so just half an hour or maybe 45 minutes, including first measuring the building size on Google Earth. Say 4 hours total is the minimum. Small complications such as  attached storage sheds with sloped roofs and porched doorways as protection against weather double that. A complicated building such as a terminal can take 4 days.

Before you position that first building you have already downloaded the FS9 ground layout, checked it against Google Earth for accurate positioning and layout, updated it as necessary with corrected taxiways, aprons, runways, parking spots, ground markings, roads, and car parks, and noted the fence positions so you can revise the airfield grass background with SBuilder. You then also correct the surrounding terrain with SBuilder, particularly if there are buildings where there should be fields or trees (towns that are too large seem to be the norm in FS9, with or without Ultimate Terrain). I roughly noted down the time it took me to make the layout for Alma CYTF recently, an airport with only one apron and a single runway, and it was over 20 hours (though that included researching the planes that would be needed for AI, but not actually downloading the planes or making the AI). After that came making buildings, positioning them and also parked vehicles, fuel tanks, fuel pumps, fences, trees, apron lights, taxiway lights, signage, containers, radio masts, etc, down to traffic cones, a rocking chair, and a table with a pint of beer and a folded chart on it. Most of the objects were not newly made (I already have, for instance, 14 different fuel tanks to chose from for size and appearance) but I did make them at some point. How many hours? Over 100, with rechecks and tweaks to make things fit properly, revising helicopter textures, making AI, plus other details such as the wrong radio frequency etc.

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11 hours ago, Bjoern said:

The lack of chatter in flight sim forums shouldn't be an indication of its popularity. For example, there were around 85000 Steam members who ran FSX:SE in the past two weeks.

http://steamspy.com/app/314160

Consider the P3D and FSX boxed users and you've got a large crowd - and a large market.

 

I'm not a fan of add-on airports that go beyond the low-fi freeware stuff, especially those with photorealistic elements. Although they're certainly nice to look at.

Mostly agreed.

I bought REX HD Airports when it was half price and I had $3 in credit points. For $11 it's great.

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13 hours ago, rogwen said:

Regarding the time required to make scenery,

in 2015, I make for xp10, 2 Belgian's AG fields. Take myself the photos needed, design the 3D nearest as possible to reality... Captured on Google photoreals of the terrains... Etc, etc...

The full process take me around 500 hours and then posted for free.

I suggest for Peoples are thinking is easy to do, to try realise one very small for the knowledge... And to became more realistic when evaluating the values of pay-ware addons.

Mark

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Simming like aviation itself has to be a labor of love simply because of the talents and abilities required that would be much more lucrative being expended elsewhere. I'm speaking of developers. I have never felt taken advantage of because everyone deserves something for their work. It's up to me the consumer to decide if I want the product or not. Let's not forget the freeware guys who give so much to the community. Theirs truly is a labor of love to the hobby.

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