Open Letter to MS Games Studios

We’re not giving up so easily! I just sent this letter to Phil Spencer in Redmond.

To: Phil Spencer
VP of MS Games Studio
Redmond, WA
An open letter regarding the incomprehensible decision to kill Flight Simulator development.

Dear mr. Spencer,

I have reason to believe that you are, at least partially, responsible for the killing of Flight Simulator, through laying off the entire ‘ACES studio’ at Microsoft.
I would like to make you aware of my view on that incomprehensible decision. I think I can safely say this is the view of tens and very likely hundreds of thousands of dedicated Flight Simulator fans and users all over the world.
YOUR customers, as well as mine.

My guess is, knowing some of what happened internally at MS in the past years, that someone in the management or finance department noted that the ‘Flight Simulator game’ was not raking in anywhere near as much money as Windows, Microsoft Office, Exchange or any of the XBox games.
Of course it was not, and it never did.
‘We’ all know that.
The Flight Simulator market was and is a niche market compared to MS’ other products, and certainly compared to the rest of the world’s gaming industry.

But you see, THERE is the problem.
Flight Simulator is NOT a game, even though it can be used as such and even if Microsoft’s marketing folks tried to sell is as such.
However, I am pretty sure that many people within Microsoft never acknowledged that. Or even understand.

Flight Simulator is exactly what the title implies: a simulation.
Maybe you’ve never used it? Then let me explain you the basics of it.
FS(X) is not only of aircraft or the flying with them, not only of the instruments and controls. No, MS Flight Simulator is the ONLY simulation in the world that you can use on a PC and that simulates the World of Aviation in the broadest sense. It has all the world’s airfields and airports included, in various levels of sophistication and realism, it has a wealth of various aircraft from the venerable Piper Cub to the latest Boeing 777. But it also has all weather effects with clouds, rain, snow and storms, and it has the world’s landscapes modeled. Not just some little areas around one of the airports as regular ‘games’ would have, but the entire globe ! It has sounds, Air Traffic Control that tells you where to go, Artificial Intelligence aircraft that fly around you, even road traffic and all sorts of boats underneath your plane. It has all the seasons, light and dark, the sun and the moon, bad weather and good.

In short Flight Simulator offers you everything you may find in real aviation with the only exception being the risk of actually killing yourself!

What is even more important however is that Flight Simulator has brought flying to many hundreds of thousands of people who would love to go flying, but can’t, for whatever reason. Word has it that you have sold a million copies of the latest version even !
It has been the first window – pun intended – into the world of flying for so many kids, many of whom are now pilots.
It is the only program that has sparked not a few fan sites but actually thousands of Internet communities that not only provide news and help to its participants, but that also fulfill a social role in today’s fast-paced world, where so many people get isolated.
It drives thousands of sophisticated model cockpits all over the world, many of them being used for real-world training in various forms

I dare say that Microsoft Flight Simulator has been the best medicine for many people, taking them away into the virtual skies, forgetting their pains, heartaches, worries and misery and making them ‘pilot’ for a few happy hours at a time.

And although FS will live on, and third party add-on developers and publishers will continue to build new parts for it, it is THAT what Microsoft has taken away from them and from all of us. That ‘history’, that part of our lives that has always been there and should always have remained there.

So I, in the name of tens, and more likely hundreds of thousands of dedicated Flight Simulator users around the globe, I hereby kindly ask you to think about the implications of stopping a unique program and ‘movement’, of taking away an ‘icon’ of the Gaming Industry, Microsoft and of all flightsimmers world wide. And of throwing away ESP with it.

I wonder, how many PASSIONATE customers you have for MS Office? Or Windows Vista?
I guarantee you that the Flight Simulator customers are passionate. About aviation in general and about your product in particular. For almost THIRTY YEARS already. THERE is the difference with anything else you have ever produced!

So therefor PLEASE RECONSIDER this most unfortunate decision, knowing that MS Flight Simulator is NOT your run of the mill Microsoft product and knowing how much you have hurt such a huge number of your customers.

Thank you kindly for your time

Best but sad regards,

François A. ‘Navman’ Dumas
(among many other things) Managing Editor

The simFlight Network

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Ian P
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 15:47

Train Simulator wasn’t sold to Kuju. Kuju developed Train Simulator. TS2 (the first one) was cancelled – Kuju then published it through Electronic Arts as Rail Simulator. They are about to release Rail Simulator 2, which is no relation at all to the, also cancelled, ACES-developed Train Sim 2 Mk.2. MS Have re-hired some of the ACES staff and have advertised positions for “a” flight related title. Current speculation is surrounding whether it will be an X-Box or “LIVE” on-demand based platform where you have to pay per use/component part or whether it will be a sim as we currently… Read more »

Monday, May 25, 2009 17:49

Flight Simulator franchise sold to an external company? Like Train Simulator to Kuju…

Friday, May 22, 2009 14:13

Ian, agreed, I’m a bit speculating. To continue this way: if no resurrection from MS and the code is gone for good, then I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about an ESP-like intitiative from Google Labs some day. There is a community here to fuel such open project.

Ian P
Thursday, May 21, 2009 15:54

ESP was cancelled along with FSXI and Train Simulator 2. All three were being developed by the ACES division which was shut down.

While there have been movements and appointments that imply the FS franchise is not entirely dead, ESP has not yet been resurrected.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 20:19

Dear All, The core of FS has now another name: Enterprise Similation Platform (ESP). This is the foundation to build other simulations, not limited to games. The probable expectation from MS is to make a business with this asset. The market here is enterprises using ESP for profitable business, and thus asking for more developments and ready to pay a lot for that. The future of FSX is thus bound to the commercial success of ESP. The FSX market is a small group of aircraft simulation lovers, not the size of console buyers. We are ready to invest hundreds of… Read more »