Elite Dangerous – More European than American it seems

So I mentioned having joined the PvE group Mobius recently, including a little picture from the UI that happened to include the currently number of members for the Americas group. Sylow, a fellow Elite player, who’s also the one who told me about Mobius to begin with, commented on how much lower those numbers were compared to the Eurasian group.

I had several hypotheses about it, like difference in regional ownership of the main game or maybe US people maybe being to… combative… for an exclusively PvE group. I wasn’t content to assume though, and went looking for some answers.

I debated on who to contact first, Mobius or Frontier, and ended up with Mobius because it was more obvious how to do so. I spent a small amount of time on the forums and saw that they had a community manager, Saberius. This seemed like the right person to ask. Alas, the forums didn’t allow me to send a direct message because, well, I haven’t actually posted anything. Can’t say that I blame them. I did manage to find a discord handle though, and since I spend a fair amount of time using it, this was a good alternative.

Now, for what it’s worth, Saberius was extremely open and helpful. As user experiences go, it was great. Alas, the answer is actually simple and not all that interesting.

See, Elite Dangerous has a 20k member limit on private groups. This isn’t normally an issue, but it turns out a lot of people want a PvE mode in Elite and Mobius filled that need. It is, by private group standards, extremely large. So large that they hit the limit a couple of years go.

Now, as I understand it, the original group was simply Mobius. When it got full, a second group was created, Mobius PvE, and they encouraged people to join one or the other based on region. Mobius was the Eurasian group and Mobius PvE was for the americas.

Eventually the original Mobius group became full, again, and an additional Mobius PvE Eurasia group was created so people would have somewhere to go. It looks like this happened somewhere around the middle of 2017.

Then, around the end of 2017 the Mobius PvE group for the Americas also reached a critical membership level and an additional Mobius PvE America(s) group was created to deal with that.

So one of the reasons for this disparity is that the Eurasia group has been around longer. Not the only one, but an important one.


Now, I could be wrong about this next bit, but here goes. I checked out the steamdb.info page for elite dangerous and was looking at the details of the last week. While I don’t have access to the data on how many people own it by region, I figured what time of day it hit peak users would give me an idea of which region has the greater number of players.

Now, I’m assuming that the times shown are UTC. Every time stamp on their page is explicitly listed as UTC. If that assumption is wrong, then so are my conclusions.

Peak players seems to be right around 6-8PM UTC. I know I’m either -4 or -5 UTC, depending on time of year, currently -4. This would put peak at 2-4PM ET or 11-1PM PT. I feel this reinforces the idea that there is a much larger European player base overall. This is further reinforced by the plateau on the back side of the peak in the 12-2AM UTC range, which would be closer to when I would expect the Americas user peak.

Of course I could be way off base and overlooking or missing important details. I totally didn’t try to account of the Asia part of Eurasia either. I feel that I have answered the question to my own satisfaction though, at least for now.

You are free to proceed commander, hopefully you’ll visit again soon.

3 thoughts on “Elite Dangerous – More European than American it seems

  1. Glad I could help o7

    A couple of other factors:
    * not everyone uses Steam,
    * Shift-workers join the group relevant to the timezone they play, it is not limited to region, but was simply named regionally. Calling it MOBIUS PVE GMT/UTC is a mouthful 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yay. Interesting to know. While I play there, I never considered it important enough for me to investigate further into the numbers.

    The important part for me was that I do meet people in Möbius. Thanks to the game running in instances, which also have a limit for maximum players, Möbius generally looks the same for me. When I go to a populated system, I meet plenty of people there. In contrast, out in the open you don’t meet anybody. There’s simply way more star systems than players in the game, and as players still prefer some places, it’s not surprising that most of space is: empty. 😀

    The advantage for me is the peoples behavior. In open, people either try to attack me or try to avoid me. “Communication” generally only happens over a guns trigger. For example just a few weeks ago I by accident went to open. The place I was at had a community goal which just was finished. So I cashed in and left the station, just to find myself under fire by three players. No communication, no warning, no info or reason for the attack. Sure I got away at 73% hull, so it didn’t affect me much. (Mostly thanks to them actually being bad pilots and terrible shots, though. ) But still: players in open, at least according to my experience, display communication skills inferior to NPCs.

    In contrast, pilots in Möbius send each other greetings, talk and sometimes even do stuff together. (E.g. bounty hunting at community goals. In open, if there’s somebody else, expect to be attacked. In Möbius, expect to get a wing invite. )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, Saberius did point out couple of flaws in the thing, being based on steam numbers and not really considering off-shift workers, but I think it’s a good ballpark.

      I have had some attempts at communication, but honestly it’s so un-intrusive that I often don’t notice for quite some time. I actively avoid other players in open when possible and haven’t attempted any community goals for exactly that reason. I knew there would be a ton of people and I didn’t want to deal with the… side effects.

      I’m sure they’ll get more people in the americas group as time goes on and word continues to spread.


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