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28.Nov.22 Some takeaways from our 2022 player survey  (75 Comments)
Back in July we invited you to participate in a slightly larger-than-usual player survey. Many of you have expressed a wish for us to publish the results of this survey. So, we are going to do so, at least for the actual game related questions. We will also provide some commentary on some of the survey results to give them better context.

The overall aim of this survey was to get a broad picture of how you see X4 today, what you enjoy about it, what problems you see, and so on, rather than to identify specific potential changes to X4 and put them on our short-term "To Do ASAP" list. It will come as no surprise to you that we still have plenty of plans for the X series, so this survey was about gathering your feedback, analysing it and using it together with our own plans and ideas, to set the course for the future.

Please note that the percentages mentioned only refer to the participants in the survey, not to the total number of buyers or players of X4: Foundations. For information, just under 20,000 of you participated in the survey.

With this in mind, here are the results of the survey:

How many hours have you invested in your most advanced savegame so far?

7% · More than 500 hours
32% · 100 to 500 hours
26% · 50 to 100 hours
24% · 10 to 50 hours
6% · 5 to 10 hours
5% · Less than 5 hours


Long playtime, strong commitment
We are always pleased to see the larger number of hours played by our players, not only those who participated in the survey, but also the ‘average player’ of X4. Clearly the X4 universe manages to keep you entertained for a long time! Almost 40% of survey participants have played the game for over 100 hours. We believe that one of the main reasons for this is also one of X4's greatest strengths: it is played similarly to an MMO, but because it is single-player, it allows for faster and virtually unlimited growth. X4 evidently has a lot to offer in terms of real economy, authentic universe, growth and so on.

How many times have you started a new game?

15% · More than 10 times
25% · 5 to 10 times
45% · 2 to 4 times
15% · Just once


Learn about the budgeted custom gamestart system, and start a new custom game!
Starting a new game in X4 should always be appealing. As the survey results show, 40% of the participants have already restarted at least five times, but we would like to see an even higher number here. In addition to new gamestarts added in previously released expansions, which provide exciting new scenarios that you should definitely check out, we also introduced a "Custom Gamestart" feature in September 2021 as part of the 4.10 Update of X4: Foundations. This has a “points” system, which allows you to change or customise certain starting parameters in the game according to your preferences. You collect points towards the budget for these parameters through your actions in previous play-throughs of the game, such as exploring, playing story missions, etc. You can then spend the points in your new budgeted custom gamestart, giving you things such as available capital, sectors already explored, or relations with other factions. There is nothing to lose by doing this, and the points remain available for future gamestarts, so we recommend you try it out if you haven't already. Rediscovering X4 from a new starting point is definitely worthwhile!

Why not check out this comprehensive video from X4 content creator Captain Collins on the Custom Gamestart feature (July 2021).

Which (gameplay) element of X4 do you enjoy the most?

33% · Trading / Economy
24% · Fighting / Battles
13% · Designing / Building stations
12% · Free exploration
11% · Missions / Storylines


Possibly our biggest challenge: the diversity of X players
The answers to this question highlight one of our biggest opportunities, but at the same time risks, with X4: the diversity of player interests and priorities. The very core of our vision of the X series games is the idea of giving players as much freedom as possible; freedom to make their own decisions about what to do in our games. To achieve this, requires us to include many different types of activity as part of the game, which in turn attracts at least as many different types of players. Not to put too fine a point on it, everyone wants something different from X4!

Perhaps our greatest challenge during our time working on X4, but also for the future of the X series, is to find compromises that "work" for as many as possible of these, sometimes fundamentally different, types of players. At the same time, we have to be realistic and acknowledge that this makes it almost impossible for us to deliver the "perfect” game for any given group of players.

Nevertheless, we have no plans to change our overall mission, which we at Egosoft have been committed to since the development of X - Beyond the Frontier in the late 90s.

Would you like to be able to play X4 with friends?

46% · Yes
16% · No
38% · Wouldn't matter to me


If you are interested in a multiplayer option, what would it ideally look like for you?

14% · MMO
63% · Online Co-Op
16% · Asynchronous Multiplayer


The best of both worlds: a single-player universe with fast progression, and team play in Multiverse online mode
This is a question which has naturally led to many discussions within the community over the years. Before any further discussion, we need to make it clear that, in our opinion, an X series game can only be what it is if it is, at heart, a single-player universe. Without going into too much detail, the issue of rapid and unlimited growth, as mentioned in a previous comment, is key to this.

That said, we definitely see possibilities for more direct cooperation between players of X games in the longer term. The Multiverse online mode, originally announced in 2021, will be a first step in that direction. We are still working on that Multiverse online mode, which is itself a development of the “Ventures" feature that was in some earlier versions of X4. We're making good progress on that, and are hopeful that we'll be able to tell you more about it in 2023.

How satisfied are you with X4 today?
(5 = Completely; 1 = Not at all)

5 = 16%
4 = 61%
3 = 18%
2 = 4%
1 = 1%


High approval rate, but room for improvement
Our survey shows that 77% of participants are at least moderately satisfied with X4 today. This figure is also reflected in our Steam reviews, where around 75% of reviewers have left positive ratings at the time of writing. Given the previously mentioned diversity of our players, and the wide range of gameplay elements within X4, we are very happy to have such a high approval rating. However, this does not mean that we will rest on our laurels. We will continue to set our goals higher, and hope to further improve these ratings and review scores in the future.

How satisfied are you with the game performance on your hardware?
(5 = Completely; 1 = Not at all)

5 = 29%
4 = 36%
3 = 22%
2 = 9%
1 = 3%


Constant work on improving performance
The X series games will always be demanding on hardware. It is in the very nature of the game, and our vision for the series, that the technical requirements will often preclude the use of lower performance systems. The full universe simulation, for example, will always require more CPU and memory than other games in the genre. The fact that 65% of the survey’s participants are reasonably satisfied with the performance of the game on their systems gives us some confidence that we are striking the right balance. However, we are constantly working on improvements, throughout our game engine, to enhance the performance of X4. In the not-too-distant future we hope to be able to start talking about the next big X4 update, 6.00, which will include our latest work in this area.

Do you use game modifications (mods) when playing X4?

53% · Yes
47% · No


If you have used Mods in X4, how many mods are you currently using in your most recent X4 savegame?

48% · More than 5 mods
40% · 2 to 5 mods
8% · 1 mod
4% · None


Why do you use mods in X4?

85% · To improve game elements that bother me (e.g. "quality of life", balancing)
66% · To be able to use more content (e.g. additional ships)
16% · To make the game harder
14% · To make the game easier


Modding community as important to us as ever
We haven't done a survey on the topic of mods for quite a while, and we are pleased to now have an up-to-date overview of mod use. The modding community remains as important to us as ever.

One of the sticking points for modders has been the issue that players cannot send ships into the Multiverse when playing a modified game. This is unavoidable for many types of mods, especially those that add ships or change the fundamental gameplay, but may be something that could be addressed for mods that make purely quality-of-life changes. With the introduction of the Multiverse online mode, hopefully during 2023, we will be taking a closer look at the possibility of “signing” certain popular quality-of-life mods, so that they do not prevent Multiverse access. In the context of this, it is good to see that quality-of-life mods are among the most important to you. However, all of this is still in the future at the moment, and we will go into more detail about it once we have a clearer picture of what will, and will not, be possible.

A small side note on the subject of mods: for many years now, we have been drafting gifted X series modders into the ranks of our team. We're pleased to say that earlier this year, modders Shuul (VRO and many other mods) and kuertee (several gameplay and quality-of-life mods) have started working with us on the future of the X series. Glad to have you on board, guys!

Which type of controls do you use most often in X4?

83% · Mouse and keyboard
9% · HOTAS
5% · Gamepad / Controller


Wide-ranging agreement on controls
When it comes to gameplay features, X4 players are very varied, as discussed in a previous comment, but when it comes to the controls, there is much more agreement. That is not to say, however, that we only focus on the majority’s requirements, and we are especially happy to see the hardcore simulation fans who fly through the X universe using a HOTAS device. With a little effort, even the most rare and complicated HOTAS systems’ control schemes can be fully customised with X4.

Have you bought (at least) one expansion for X4?

93% · Yes
7% · No


We are hugely excited to see the high level of uptake for our X4 expansions, and thank you all for your support.

Which expansion(s) for X4 do you own? (multiple answers possible)

98% · Split Vendetta
97% · Cradle of Humanity
77% · Tides of Avarice


Which expansion do you like the most?

7% · Split Vendetta
40% · Cradle of Humanity
7% · Tides of Avarice
46% · I have no favourite


Nicer ships = higher approval rating?
The results of these survey questions lead us to assume that the popularity of expansions among players of X4 is driven primarily by the ships that we introduce in those expansions. In particular, we interpret this result to mean that the ships from X4: Cradle of Humanity are your favourites, resulting in it receiving the highest rating at 40%. Are we right in our assumptions, or are there other factors that led you to your answers? Feel free to let us know in the comments section for this article.

This is probably also a good opportunity to highlight two specific beauties from the most recent X4 expansion, X4: Tides of Avarice, which you should definitely take the time to check out:
  • The Erlking, a terrifying pirate battleship with an experimental and unusual energy source.
  • The Astrid, an incredibly lavish and luxurious yacht, that is rumoured to be the fastest ship in the galaxy. With its sleek design, the Astrid is a ship unlike anything you've ever come across in the X universe.
How do you feel about the retail price of the X4 expansions?

66% · Just right.
9% · Too expensive.
4% · Too cheap.
21% · I have no opinion on this.


Approval of the value proposition
Getting the pricing right is, of course, an important aspect of our work. Given the great take-up rate of the X4 expansions, we think we have created quite a good pricing structure that is acceptable to a large majority of X4 players. We're pleased about that, of course, and hope that we'll continue to make the right decisions in the future, setting prices that work well for both you and us.

---

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all participants in the survey and, of course, all those who have supported us over the years during the development of X4: Foundations and its expansions. As mentioned in several articles and news items this year, we have not yet reached the end of our journey with X4, and are looking forward to telling you more about the short- and medium-term future of the game as soon as we are ready to do so.

Please keep an eye on our communication channels; you can find an overview of all our channels at linktr.ee/egosoft.

Thank you, and see you soon!
posted by Gregory
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