Microsoft Closes Down ACES Studios [Update]

ms_masthead_ltrRumors are now confirmed that Microsoft’s bean counters have deciced that their games division is no longer ‘needed’ and are closing down Aces Studios. That would mean no more support for our beloved Flight Simulator, NO FS11, NO Train Sim 2, no jobs for all the developers in that division, and (in future) loss of jobs and income for many thousands of add-on developers. We’d call this a Black Friday for the FS community ! We ‘re still waiting for more details on what it would mean to the ESP initiative and other projects. Read more here !

[Update]: CNET reports that Microsoft (is) cutting jobs, but not products.

0 Responses

  1. This is stunning news. Having known a few of the guys there personally, it disheartens me to see so many good people just simply getting let go.

    However, with this news, I think it really opens up the floodgates for someone else to step up and play ball. In the future gaming world there will still be a need for FS, and now that the monster that is Microsoft is out of the way, it leaves the playing field WIDE open.

    My deepest sympathies go out to the ACES team and their families, but this too shall pass. It could be a blessing in disguise.

  2. Yes, its immediate negative effect is on the employees at MS, many of whom were as much FS enthusiasts as we all are, and many of them were employed in the FS team for many years !

    It will not kill FS for a long time to come, and it probably means that add-on developers, botj commercial and freeware, now have more time and opportunity to really get into the groove of developing, not being chased too soon by yet another new and changed version.

    There are advantages and disadvantages with any event, but there are actual people involved here with families, who lost their jobs, and right now that hurts most in the short run !

  3. Is this for real or just a rumor?

    I have to agree with Francois, that FS will not die, but it can and will be more difficult to get new users to be interested in a non-supported “Old” game – Down the lane this might affect us.

    I have been in the game industry for years, and I have tried to get axed by the bean counters – 80 + People laid off from one day to the other – just before Christmas. What happen in our case, was that we gathered and made an new company – that grew bigger than the old one.

    The Aces team consists of a bunch of people with a rare talent, and even in todays financial climate, I would think someone with the right kind of money would see the huge benefit and grab them up – hopefully continuing to contribute to our great hobby.

    But – I cross my fingers and hope that this is just an unsubstantiated rumor..
    If the full Aces team has been let go, you could hope for a new company

  4. Well, it seems to more than a rumor now.
    Phil Taylor has more or less confirmed this. He can’t say much though.
    I know he’s Intel now, but he has contacts…

    This is a sad day. My thoughts ho to the affected people.

  5. Hi folks,

    this is a very bad news… i hope that all aces members will found a new job.
    And for us simmer and for our addon developer i hope that all Aces projects will continue in a future.

    Fabio Merlo

  6. Reducing jobs is most likely a short term action. Obiously it is bad news for those who lost their jobs …. but for sure Microsoft will keep ownership of their assets, the source code of FS ESP, will continue selling FSX, and almost for sure they will pump in new development hours, once the economic storm is over. So i think this is only a temporary slow down of new FS releases, and not will be a FS closedown for ever. The question is for how long will last this slow down??? Only global economic trend during next months will give a clue on this. Meanwhile it is true that it is a oportunity for other FS engines/platforms to push the throttle to better position their offers against MS FS. I also belive that it is also an opportunity (and not a announced death) of the addon industry, as MS is reducing its muscle to offer new and best fetures inside FSX, then, addon developers can do it as pluged-in periferal modules (new planes more advances in avionics, systems modelling, flying modeling, multicrew cockpits etc etc etc new sceneries, new almost everything it is a matter of ideas and quick development to reach fast the market meanwhile the big beast Microsoft keeps sleeping. I am sure that all that comunity of fired ACES developpers has plenty of ideas that now will be able to develop in their own and make direct money out of them….. I also believe that now people like Arosoft, Flight1, feelthere, Dreamfleet, PMDG, IVAO, VATSIM, Open Sky and many other major players in the FS world can be great train leaders to push out to our FS community all that freelance ideas and work to continue enhancing our Virtual aviation and training experience.

    Is MS FS in difficulties to progress may be yes, is the amatteur virtual aviation and training industry in its way to death NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO JUST THE OPPOSITE…. lets show how the addon development community work in the past to make all those pieces of software that populate the AVSIM, Flightsim file libraries and populate the stands of ecomerce stores dedicated to sell addons…

  7. This is a sad day indeed for those losing their jobs.

    However, it’s not the end of the world for simmers. FSX and FS9 are still there, along with X-Plane and other sims. As for the add-on developers, in some ways this may make their job easier. There are still just as many simmers out there. We won’t all uninstall our FSX’s and FS9’s just because of this, so the add-on developers have just as many customers, but now they can concentrate on what’s out there, and don’t need to worry about another version coming along for a while.

    It might actually stabilise the add-on market.

    Keep on simming! 🙂


  8. Well is sad news. Sice the first Fs I was a suporter of Flight simulator. With it I learned to fly.
    some people or all has been fired from ACE studios. Microsoft has the code of new fs11 or new updates (train simulator also) but is hard for a new programmer to recuperate the old code. This has to be done again, so more time in new fs11 if someday comes.

    But there is still another civil sim with support. X-plane. I am a small developer for that sim ( but I will try to push hard to make a continuity to flight sims.
    I think is time to other developers to look at x-plane.

    But fsx and fs9 still has a couple or more years of flying. All depends on external developers. But will new users trust in a product that has no more support. Will be new copies of FSX on shops?
    My choice was to move to x-plane a year ago. I am happy with that decision.

  9. Sad news indeed! A symbol of the many flaws with capitalism: No heart, no passion, just bottom lines and greedy shareholders.

    In the short term I hope this will be good news for addon developers since they now are practically in charge of any further FS development. If they are smart and creative they can live healthy without MS for years. It will be important for the addon scene to get better at publisity and marketing. FSX is just a foundation – a simulator operating system if you will. Hopefully MS will keep FSX in print for years to come. You can still buy FS98 over the counter, so I guess they will.

  10. Sad news indeed, but there a light at the end of the tunnel.

    FS9 is still popular and that’s due to FSX simply being too much, too soon. It seemed at the time of its release (FSX) that ACES pushed too hard since computers couldn’t match its over-the-top demands on the CPU and GPU. Looking back now, that was probably the best move they ever made.

    We literally have years and years ahead of us while we wait for computers that will not only run FSX with max sliders, but will also be able to run the most demanding add-ons in tandem with max sliders.

    I wouldn’t sound the death knell just yet, as a community of flight enthusiasts, I highly doubt we’ll all disappear into the woodwork and eventually become just a memory of glorious things past.

    If we stick together, support the add-on developers and keep the camaraderie that we’ve all enjoyed over the past decade on a roll, then nothing has changed, nor will it change for a long time to come.

    One more point… When I look at screenies of the old (really old) versions of FS, I’ve asked myself how anyone could have enjoyed such rudimentary graphics, featureless cockpits and simplistic aircraft, yet they did and persevered to keep this hobby alive. Now when we look at FSX with its high-tech graphic abilities, the almost life-like renditions of AC and scenery apps, how much more do we need?

    I for one ain’t going nowhere! I’m in for the long haul and that’s not just when times are good, it’s also when times are bad.

  11. I have to say WOW Microsoft!!!!! But note that this “can” be a good thing for the fs community in the long run. Most of you have probably forgot the great product “Fly!” that Richard with his team started as a competitor against MSFS a few years back, and we also have X-plane. Now is the time to make the perfect flight simulator, as the users want it!

  12. As a developer of FS addons (commercial), I certainly feel for those at ACES who lost their jobs. Losing your job in a down economy is something I would not wish on anyone, especially if they have kids to feed and mortgage to pay. Not pleasant.

    However, this is by no means the death of Flight Simulation.

    There are new add-ons coming out almost everyday for FSX and FS9, so the base program itself probably won’t get ‘stale’ for a very long time as there are always new add-ons to keep things ‘fresh’.

    Also, as mentioned above, with more powerful computer coming out, people will really start to be able to enjoy FSX, I think.

    This recent turn of events is nothing to worry about for the FS fan base.

  13. Fly! disks still sit on my shelves. It is more than a ‘few’ years back by now, but it was a great product and much more realistic than X-Plane at the time (and in certain ways still is !).

    There are indeed a few ‘alternatives’ to FS9 and FSX around, and maybe there will be more. Personally I feel that none of them come close to MSFS with its global coverage, wealth of add-ons and enormous fan community. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  14. I must say this is very sad news and I knew with the state of Vista and the backlash plus the same having happened in this community concerning FSX trouble was ahead. None of us know the books but I knew there had to be trouble when so many users opting to stay with FS9 over FSX or Windows XP over Vista. I share the sentiment that FSX will now come into it’s own a few years from now. FSX is an outstanding product if one was able to run it in all it’s glory and now that will happen. Just like FS9 FSX will one day run as fluid as butter but there’s a two fold situation here. One thing to be concerned with is the rate of new simmers coming on board. With no major push of FSX in retail stores five years from now this community is the only thing driving FSX and add-on sales. That may or may not be a good thing because people come and go in this community/hobby. How many of us will stick around in years to come. If too many of us drop off add-ons will do the same because there’s no profit in it. Another thing to consider is will FSX be compatible with Microsoft’s OS say 10 years from now. This community will have to dig in and make patches to keep FSX running on OS’s down the road (the same had to happened with Falcon 4/Allied Force). Another sad fact to also consider is if Aces ever comes back in some capacity the new FS will be nothing like we had in the past (if MS totally folds the division). We may see more of a game than a sim and unless the code at Microsoft is retained in some kind of vault the develops will be working from scratch. Much like what happened with the original electric car when the technology was bought by the oil companies, the new electric vehicles researched today is in a state where manufactures had to start all over. I hope the original code get’s stuck away somewhere for future new builds to draw from. I’d hate to see the essence of FS forever lost to corporate greed. What’s at hand now is we need to keep FS alive as much as we can in the coming years and I’m happy we have FSX for computers 5 years from now. I would have hated to see FS9 be the last version. I can deal with FSX in that capacity…

  15. This is sad news for the Aces team and my sympathies go to them.

    As far as FS is concerned I imagine everything just goes on hold until the recession ends and Microsoft’s fortunes improve as they inevitably will.

    At that point they will recruit and it’s quite possible some of the original team may rejoin and everything carries on where it left off.

    I certainly don’t see this news as the end of FS. Microsoft have just pressed the Pause key.

  16. “Sad news indeed! A symbol of the many flaws with capitalism: No heart, no passion, just bottom lines and greedy shareholders.”

    You’re right, let’s convert to communism and make everybody happy.

    I would agree with you if you had said ‘monopoly’ as Microsoft tends to be.

  17. My sympathies go the aces members who lost their jobs, but FS is not dead for the moment. FS9 is still being enjoyed by many thousands, as is FSX and the latter welcomes new users daily who’ve upgraded their PC’s and are able to enjoy all that FSX has to offer. However, it will be sad if Microsoft don’t continue with the development of FS in the future when the economy stabilises.

  18. Anybody got Bill Gates email address??? Someone needs to tell him this new guy running the company is not cutting it…

    Quiet as it’s kept, Bill Gates get’s as much credit as anyone for keeping FS alive for all these years. His foresight to leave this product alone and let it mature in his company is part of the reason it grew and became such a great enigma…

  19. Bill Gates does not have anything to do with the operations of Microsoft. It´s all controlled by Steve Balmer now!

  20. This is very discouraging news, considering how much the code needed a massive overhaul.

    As an avid fsimmer of 20 years, I considered FSX to be nearly the product I had always been waiting for, until I discovered that SP1 re-introduced the blurries. I was on a fairly state of the art computer at the time, but even two subsequent upgrades failed to get rid of them. My computer is stable as can be, and quite fast, but the blurries persist. There should be no reason in the world for this state of affairs considering the power of today’s hardware – the old code needed to go.

    I can only hope that Microsoft does not ditch the franchise. I was holding out much hope that FSXI would indeed be the version I’ve always been waiting for.

    And best of luck to the ACES team.

  21. “[Update]: CNET reports that Microsoft (is) cutting jobs, but not products.”

    Great news…not. MSFS is ACES, ACES is MSFS. No ACES, no MSFS. Does anyone believe that some other guys can develop this baby further without going through a painful (for us customers) learning curve? Stevo talks about “tighter pants” MS has to wear now “for a while”. My advice: Tight pants can deteriorate fertility and look really ugly on old, fat and bald men’s butts. And that’s exactly my vision on MS now – I’m looking at an old fat ass that throws away the only thing that was admired even in the OSS world, that makes real MS-haters say “yeah ok FS is the only software they did right”.

  22. I just read up on Steve Balmer.

    Judging by his bio this might be a serious long shot getting through to him on this issue. The good thing is he’s one of the original people at Microsoft dating back to 1977. He knows the history of FS and he may change his mind. I was under the mindset for some strange reason the current CEO was someone totally new to Microsoft who’s only been around since 2000. Our best bet is to email Steve B as much as we can…

  23. I guess only time will tell and who knows perhaps it will be back. In the mean time I will let the Add-on developers make things interesting while I hope hope FS will makes a come back into the Flight Sim market.

    As far as x-plane is concern I doubt it will make it to my PC ever again. To cumbersome to use, installation was horrible and there was more emphasis on graphics then in flight dynamics, and aircraft functionality. The landscapes helps in an arcade sort of way, but when comes down to it – I want to be busy in the cockpit when I am flying. Maybe its just me and meaning no disrespect to anyone, but I am not seeing anything I like about x-plane…

  24. Time to get some businessman,coding experts and financiers together and together execute a “missed approach” procedure for the current Flightsim team!

    Why do you need Microsoft anyway? Remember – a long time ago – Flightsim was from a FREE, standalone company (Bruce Artwick) and swallowed, eaten by Micro$oft

    Be glad that the MS-interference is gone now, and
    – go ahead and plot a new [heading]
    – take of to an new [altitude]
    – switch [off] the MS autopilot in your minds
    – let your [creativity] flower, bloom, explode into a new version of our beloved flightsim

    Or… (advocate of the devil thoughts)
    Turn the msfs sourcecode to the community, public domain and let them help, assist the current team to develop the next generation “Flightsim XI – The community version”

    It works very well for FlightGear, Linux, Open Office, so why should it not works for (MS) FS-XI???

    Every end has a new beginning in it! and you fly better when the wind underneath your wings is YOUR OWN and LAMINAIR and not someone elses turbulence 😉

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