In the US to use 'simulator' hours toward your PPL, they must be on an approved flight training device. They must be monitored by an instructor and the 'flight' must follow a specific instruction lesson. They are seldom much cheaper than doing the same thing in a training aircraft with an instructor.
The FTD I've used never simulate takeoffs and landings. Instructors want you doing those for real in real aircraft. I was charged full rate for the instructor time and approx 70% of the aircraft rental rate.
We did approaches, and some other lessons like navigation.
Flight Simulator was very useful for me to review the lessons I completed, to repeat my flights and see where I could have improved.
@ PawPaw's house - near KADS, Addison, Texas, USA