Last May I published an article on what ships players owned. I got my data from the Inara website because while it couldn’t cover everyone, it has large enough numbers to be representative.
Last year the most popular ship in terms of ownership numbers and as a first-choice primary vessel was the Asp Explorer.
Have the 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4 updates and the addition of two new passenger vessels changed that?
Short answer is “yes”. The Asp Explorer while still the most popular ship to own, has fallen 0.66% from 12.92% to 12.26% and has been supplanted as the most popular primary vessel by the Anaconda. This would appear to show that the player-base has become more affluent over the last year and a half.
Here is the division of ship ownership as 2.4 has launched.
The least popular ship last year was the Orca, but following the addition of passenger missions in the game, that has changed. Now the least popular ship is the Asp Scout, meaning Asps occupy top and bottom place! The Orca is now more popular than the Asp Scout, Federal Dropship and Federal Gunship. The most popular passenger vessel is the recently added Dolphin. This would appear to show most players are only putting a toe in the passenger mission waters.
Clearly the addition of content has shifted the dynamic.
Thargoids might shift them again. With the requirement for four Class 2 hard-points for AX Missiles and space required for “standard” weaponry as well, will the changes brought by 2.4 cause a resurgence in the popularity of the Federal Dropship? We shall see. Let’s face it, nobody is going to make war on the Thargoids in a Beluga Liner!
Top of the Pops
Well, ship-pickers, who are the winners and losers in our chart? Where have the biggest gains and losses been seen?
The top 5 winners are the Anaconda, who has jumped a whopping 2.21%. The Dolphin which has gone from nowhere to 1.29%, making it more popular than the Type-9 was last year. The Imperial Cutter has gone up 1.11% to 3.10% showing the player-base are getting rank as well as credits in game. Then the Beluga line takes the number four spot from nowhere with 1.08% and finally at number five, the Federal Corvette with 3.10% rising 0.80% from last year.
Last year the most popular ships were the Sidewinder, Anaconda, Python and Cobra Mk 3 – all multi-role – with the two exceptions of the Vulture (a pure combat vessel) and the Asp Explorer which is primarily an explorer.
This year we’re seeing that the Fer-de-Lance has crept up to push the Sidewinder out of that group, indicating that the player-base is not only wealthier, but more inclined toward combat.
Who are the biggest losers?
The poor Vulture, despite hanging on in the top five most popular ships, lost the most players with a 2.12% loss. Have players moved to the FDL to avoid the Vulture’s weak cockpit? Or did they just get rich enough to buy the combat ship they wanted all along?
At number two on the “loser list” is the Cobra Mk III! Yep, the iconic ship is falling out of fashion. It lost 1.75% of the player-base in the last 18 months.
The third ship we’re learning not to love is the Imperial Clipper, with ownership falling by 1.24%. That means more people have ditched their Clippers than the total number of players who own Keelbacks!
Our fourth biggest looser is the Federal Assault Ship. This craft has lost 1.20% of the player-base. Why? This ship was popular as a combat vessel with PvP and PvE alike, but it looks like those players are moving on to vessels new.
The fifth biggest loser was the Diamondback Scout dropping 0.84% from 2.32% to only 1.48%. Why? As a small combat ship, it just doesn’t seem to compete with the cheaper Cobra and Vipers.
Some worthy changes to note. The Orca, Keelback and Gunship have all doubled in popularity. The Keelback has clearly benefitted from being the smallest vessel to have Ship Launched Fighters. The Orca has seen a surge due to passenger missions. Why has the Gunship gained? I can only speculate that it’s combat role is raising its profile.
Have ship paint jobs kept up with what's popular in-game? Last year there was a disconnect between what was owned and what paints you could buy in the store.
The short answer here is "no". There are disproportionate amounts of paints available for the Eagle and Viper, while the popular Asp Explorer has far fewer paints, especially considering it's the number one ship in the game for the last two years! Now, as I said at the start, Inara numbers are only representative of a selected portion of the player base - all be it as big portion. Does Frontier check their own numbers before prioritising paints for one ship over another? I'd hope so, but the current numbers don't seem to bear that out.
Better luck next year!