The False Consensus Effect

Let me put aside KPDX (sort of) for a second and talk about something that’s on my mind. I’m talking about a phenomenon called the False Consensus Effect.

I’ve had a couple of emails since KPDX launched (literally, two emails), both of which were pretty aggressive in tone, and informed me that I was losing out big time by making scenery only for P3Dv4.

And no, these weren’t X-Plane lovers, although I’ve heard from them as well. These rants were courtesy of the ranks of FSX pilots, and went something along the lines of “the vast majority of flight sim users still fly the 32-bit sims. Why would you want to miss out on all those sales by only developing for P3Dv4?” Why, indeed.

I’ll address that question directly just this once: without sugarcoating it, these people are simply wrong. They’re assuming that because they still have an investment in FSX and don’t want to upgrade, “most” people are like them, ergo I’m somehow willfully depriving myself of large numbers of sales for some unknown reason.

What they don’t have access to are the actual raw numbers that I saw before making the decision, numbers that are taken directly from years of sales trends to hundreds of thousands of add-on customers. Those stats paint a picture of the 64-bit sims (P3Dv4 and XP11) very much in their ascendancy. They have basically left the 32-bit platforms in the dust.

Knowing that, coupled with the knowledge of how much effort it would take to downgrade the scenery without too much loss of visual fidelity, I had to make a choice: was it worth it to spend a few extra weeks on a port to FSX and P3D v1-3 for a single-digit percentage of extra sales? In the end, the numbers just couldn’t support it.

Folks, this ain’t no anti-FSX tirade. I loved that sim, flew it for years, and devoted countless hours to building add-ons for it. If people want to stick with it and forgo the advantages of 64-bit, I say have at it and enjoy what you’ve got! But please, do so with the understanding that time has marched on and taken a great many developers with it.

And if you decide some day to go whole-hog 64-bit, we’ll be there with some really cool add-ons, and maybe a tray of cookies.

Peace, y’all.

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