Following the Press Event to which we were invited at the end of last year, we told you that at some point early in the new year, we would be told and be able to tell you more about the new sim. Well, today, Microsoft have made available more detailed information about it’s upcoming title in the flight simulaton series: Flight.
With an expected release date set in Spring 2012, Flight will be distributed via download only … no word for now about any boxed version:
“The starter pack is free to play and includes the Icon A5 and the Big Island of Hawaii. Pricing for game add-ons will vary.”
Further details on future add-ons were not revealed other then that ‘pricing for game add-ons will vary’.
“Microsoft Flight is an entirely new PC game that lets players jump into the challenge, fun, and freedom of flight with no special hardware or past experience. Whether players want to fly freely or choose to master real instruments and controls, Microsoft Flight is easy for a beginner while challenging for the most accomplished PC pilots. The game immerses players in the flying experience with realistic graphics and accurate physics, and will continually evolve with new terrain, aircraft and challenges that can be downloaded via expansion packs.“
More and product specifications after the jump…..
“Features: Top features include the following:
You’re at the Controls. Microsoft Flight offers hours of exciting gameplay for free with the initial download. Set the pace by choosing to turn on flight aids or use the cockpit controls to perform authentic piloting procedures. Choose how to play, whether it’s completing missions, finishing challenges, exploring the sky or finding aerocaches. Players looking to deepen their experience can download additional packs that add new aircraft, regions and customization options. As a player’s experience grows, so too does Microsoft Flight, with frequently released new content like daily aerocache challenges and regular mission updates designed to keep the experience fresh.
If You Can Use a Mouse, You Can Fly. With Microsoft Flight, players can jump into the challenge and fun of flying with no special hardware or past experience. At the push of a button players can see all available missions, be transported to specific locations, view the airplanes in their hangar, or track and share accomplishments. After a brief tutorial, they’ll be soaring past the lush, breathtaking cliffs of the historic Waipio Valley or witnessing the vast crevices of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with a view from above.
Stunning Realism. Microsoft Flight features a visually stunning and realistic representation of the region-specific weather patterns, foliage and terrain, landmarks and flight physics. Players can explore in highly rendered, accurate cockpits of airplanes, or fly with a view of the airplane from the outside.”
Product Specifications: Microsoft Flight is optimized for the average PC user, with no special hardware required.
- Dual Core Processor 2.0 GHz
- 256MB graphics card, DirectX 9.0c compliant
- 10GB hard drive space
- WinXP SP3 or newer
- 2GB RAM
- Dual Core Processor 3.0 GHz
- 1024MB graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 5670 or nVidia GeForce 9800T or equivalent
- 30 GB hard drive space
- Windows 7 SP1 64-bit
- 6GB Ram
For the moment, we’ll leave you to make of that what you will, without further comment from us. We’d welcome your feedback, though, either via the comments box below, or via the Microsoft Flight forum, if you’d rather have more characters available!
I think I’ll comment “interesting” on these news for now. I am definitely surprised. As a 20+ years Microsoft Flight Simulator supporter it is sad to see world coverage gone. On the other hand it leaves me optimistic for competing flight sims as they’ll now be able to compete with Microsoft with much less effort focusing on specific regions and smaller selection of aircraft. Prepar3D just moved to the top of my list as the global flight simulator platform for the future.
So we forget the online networks and many more thinks… No thank you MS. FSX only
The concept of downloading a free version with limited content and then buy more material to expand your game is a concept used by many video games companies these days and in my opinion, is the way PC/video games will become sooner or later.
For example, a sophisticated online hunting game called “The Hunter” uses this exact same concept. Hunting fans seem to love it as it looks like a true to life big game hunting simulator that let them register online, have a hunter character/profile in a social networking like web environment, download and play a limited version of the game for free, and then buy gear and more licenses to hunt more species in extra reserves etc… The game has its followers but it is, like a flight sim, a niche genre. Thus only hunting fans invest and pay to expand their experience/game.
MS is following the expandable gaming trend and its not doing a bad thing in my opinion. But the issue here is that MS is hoping once again, to gain more market with its “revamped” civilian Flight sim that was always a niche PC game genre. MS is trying once again to bring more gamers/customers = $. The closure of ACES studios and the termination of the Flight Simulator game as it was packaged and sold, was partly due to the lack of revenues from FS… In fact MS tried different ways of making FS more accessible to a wider audience in its past versions and certainly they did not succeed in the past and I am not sure it will function now with this new expandable game concept…
The reason is very simple: to be able to play and invest in a PC Flight sim like Flight and expand it, you need to be an aviation fan, period!… Other people might be curious to try the free version, do silly stuff with it from time to time but that’s about it. Only the serious fans of aviation and flight simulation (i.e previous users of FS versions) might invest in expanding Flight if they find the expandable methods a good deal. So I do not see any other possible supporters and customers to Flight other than FSX or previous FS versions users…
Now if we agree that only aviation fans and previous MS FS users will try to invest in Flight, their objective will certainly be to have Flight = FSX, and I mean by this to have the entire world and options available to them to enjoy their flying methods the way they used to enjoy it. and I am curious to see how much $ will that cost them to have a complete world coverage + collection of different aircraft types (props, turbos and jetliner(s))! Will it be a “pay per package” vs “pay per item” deals?! We do not know yet but this will influence the level of enthusiasm of MS FS people and in my opinion will decide the fate of Flight…
Also, looking at the screens and videos, Flight looks to me like a polished FSX using the new shading technology of the latest DX. After all, simmers might not find radical innovation in Flight and might prefer to keep their FSX + all the add-ons they bought. Others might embrace XPlane10, the simulator that replicates the best, the flight dynamics on a PC and the simulator that still uses the old way of delivering a complete world of simulation in a box (with free updates)…
To summarize, I am curious to see how the old fans of FS will follow the new expandable simulator trend, on the other hand I am pretty sure that non aviation/simulation fans will not spend money to expand a free version of Flight… Civilian Flight Simulators are and will always remain a niche genre no matter what marketing strategy the development or publishing companies use…
But let’s wait for spring and see…
X-Plane has one major and irredemable problem though: It doesn’t in any way, shape or form replicate the real world, however accurate or otherwise the flight dyanmics are (depending on who you talk to).
You didn’t mention in your precis above, Michel, Lockheed-Martin’s Prepar3d. That cannot be ignored, with more and more developers announcing direct support and specific products for it. It may just be “FSX SP3” in some peoples’ eyes, but a lot of people are looking seriously at it, the advances and bug fixes that it brings.
I agree entirely that Flight is still very much a “wait and see” game. There are people out there who know a lot more than this press release announces, but they’re all under NDAs and thus unable to comment on those topics.
Personally, I don’t think that DLC is going to be the way “all” gaming and software goes – there’s already a large backlash against it in many circles, particularly those simulations that have followed the path – and a lot of people still don’t like or simply cannot get download only add-ons and titles. A lot of people like to think that the entire world has always-on ‘unlimited’ broadband connections and a lot of companies like to think that potential income from DLC is endless. Neither statement is true.
All the best,
Ian, I agree regarding XPlane world. I believe the FS global world always was more appealing than Xplane world… Also the “outdoors” / landscape / vegetation that we see in Flight screens and videos look much more life like than Xplane10. XPlane 10 landscapes look plain and lack variation in terms of vegetation…
So I personally think that XPlane even V10 is not the best virtual environment for bush flying fans. The plausible world is a very interesting and innovative concept, although it looks too clean / squary for my taste (like sim city) and might not please those who would want the exact landclass/landuse of a city replicated in the sim…
Also I still think that even with the improvements in V10, the lighting effect in XPlane is not that convincing and not that true to life… We have the feeling that the day light is a fake studio lighting effect or happening on a different planet. There is a gloomy and bizarre atmosphere in XPlane during the day…
So in these aspects, Flight seems superior at least in the screens we see… It will be a pleasant and attractive simulator for bush flying fans in my opinion…
I would say – very limited content and be aware !!…
No 3rd party addons, like aircraft and scenery can be added like we are used to in FSX.
Every addition to MS Flight can only be approved by and bought by MS.
For me that means that FSX still rules until X-Plane ctches up with current FSX standards.
I’m sorry this is not true at all. There is a hughe aftermarket at least for aircraft for X-Plane.
Compared to MSFS, X-Plane has a tiny aftermarket product availability – but at least part of that is because the users and developers all tend to use a (very) small number of sites within a quite small, insular, community. One that often treats “outsiders” from other sims with, at worst, outright hostility.
The more X-Plane developers and users talk outside their own little circle, the more people will join the conversations and the more users and developers will consider the sim as an alternative.
Right now, XP9 and the XP10 are useless to me. I didn’t bother getting the full version of XP10 after seeing and reading that the scenery engine hasn’t changed.
I think people in general are to hasty with their conclusions. This press release basically says we will get a huge, free demo, with the option of expanding the sim for a fee. I don’t think that’s a bad deal. I will for sure try at least the free part, but it will depend on if they will offer the rest of the world via the store or not whether I will actually end up buying stuff for Flight. And of course whether or not exisitng FSX addons will be brought to Flight. For me it’s the addons that make or break a sim.
So overall, I’m pretty pleased with what I hear.
X-Plane is evolving daily and what’s becoming apparent through updates and user tinkering, is that it’s an incredibly flexible and extendable environment. It still needs a critical mass of users/add-on providers to flesh out the world but the engine to display this detail is already capable of doing this with some stunning results. Going into it with an open-mind and a spirit of discovery, I’m spending most my sim time with it.
For me it has to be about realism. I want something that has a better flight modelling than the current FSX and a better interpretive allowance for wet, icy, hot very cold conditions with accurate weather downloads and realistic flight modelling… This “Fun” simulator initially doesn’t sound like it will have necessarily that kind of content, but like everyone else only Microsoft knows and the rest of us will have to wait and see.
I have sunk a fortune into FSX add-ons, both scenery and aircraft – It will take an awful lot to convince me to leave behind FSX on the grounds of a free download of Hawaii and any subsequent payware download. As it stands, Megascenery Hawaii looks a lot better than what I have seen so far – admittedly without the animations – and yes I had to pay extra for it – but as I already have it and have invested in it and other add-ons Microsoft has an awful lot of convincing to do. I guess part of this strategy is to give away the core product as a look see to get the current FSX user onboard.
Questions that remain to be answered are;
1.) If the uptake of pay for DLC is lower than anticipated will Microsoft still commit to completing the whole world or will it leave those who invested in its partial coverage behind and move on? And that, my fellow simmers, is a fair question given what happened to FSX. – IT was the community that picked up the ball in the aftermath of a less than stellar buggy launch.
2.) Is the scenery DLC going to be contiguous, or just random fun fashion spots around the world?
3.) Is the pay for content key triggered to one workstation by a hardware coding to your motherboard and CPU (as WIN7 is)?
4.) Is this primarily aimed at those who use a graphically behind the times XBOX platform?
Well, we shall see sooner or later enough I guess..
No one knows for certain what Microsoft Flight will eventually look like. Nor, does anyone know regarding X Plane10. Its too early to tell or draw any conclusions.
I think that Flight will not look radically different from the screens and videos MS is presenting to the community…
And I believe MS would make a big mistake if Flight does not by default has as complete world coverage in terms of elevation, land and water class and basic airports and airfields (like default FSX) even if those are locked in the free version…
So the major suspense while waiting for spring to come is to wait and see if we will get news about the possibility of unlocking the whole plain planet and have something like the default FSX… And if this will be possible with a 1 time fee… And then any detailed city / airports will cost extra fees…
If on the other hand MS decided to develop, publish and sell only the detailed spots in the world without the possibility to have the whole plain planet bought and unlocked, well in this case I think this will certainly not attract allot of the previous MSFS users, knowing that the actual FS fans are the ones who would invest in Flight, not the casual gamer who has no interest in aviation and/or a civilian flight sim
I agree with Michel..you are an aviation fanatic or you are NOT..there is not sucha thing as game a like “fun” factor for FS and the people that really carry it..so good luck M$!
I’m disappointed with the direction Microsoft has taken. I left FSX years ago and went to Xplane and haven’t looked back. I still have FSX on my drive, but I much prefer the xplane experience.
I’m disappointed because viable competition is good for the flight sim industry. But flight just completely ignores the simmers and is going after the causal gamer. Won’t work.
I do not like the freemium approach to game delivery and the closed ecosystem (like itunes) means no freeware or third party content so I will be taking a miss on this and will follow the development of Xplane 10.
I won’t be playing the GAME! I am sticking to the REAL SIMULATIONS!
Thanks MS for deciding for me – I’m ordering X-plane 10 as of now.
I still have to wait a while to decide on where I stand. I’m suspicious of the “freemium” approach (but I could be convinced otherwise – for example being able to replicate what the trailer shows for free will be GREAT for introducing aviation to young enthusiasts) and I dislike the closed area approach (the greatest handicap of old Flight Unlimited). And I can’t figure out how freeware could work with Flight. But perhaps it can and it will so I’ll wait. It does look good. But I’ll be keeping my old computer working so that I won’t loose FS9 and FSX.
No 3rd party improvements?! Are you kiddin’ me?!! Microsoft already proved they can’t hack it when it comes to the realism that 3rd party developers salvaged out of FSX. Personally, I feel they took a few steps back from the given technology of the day with FSX. Now it looks like they’ve pulled a Col. Kurtz. They’ve definitely “got off the boat” with this “Download only with us” as you go along. Michel’s right about a lack of global coverage.
Modelling the whole world is not economic anymore. for VFR pilots that want great detail MSFlight will have highly detailed zones, with the help of 3rd party companies, with simple scenarios for areas where flying is less likely. now for IFR airlines type pilots you just need detailed scenario on departure and arrival, then you just need a good weather engine as you don’t need detail at 35,000ft. Is a better approach rather than trying to simulate the whole world. Studies shows that FSimmers just fly on 5% of the world, so why not have great detail on that 5%?
The Sim will be free and then you can buy add-ons within a single marketplace, that means that developers and 3rd party add-ons can access millions of users, this is a great opportunity.
From the realism perspective, it works like the F1 games, you can add a lot of assistance or remove everything for realistic behaviour, the idea is to have a sim that works for a person that does not know anything about flying and also for those that want realism.
Now, is good to have options, if you like X-Plane go and play it, same for the other flight sims, so as it will be free, give it a try and if you don’t like that’s fine. Judge your view of the sim was you have played it rather than speculating.
This “5% of the world” of which you write… Which 5% is it? certainly not just Hawaii. German simmers tend to sim in Germany, Japanese simmers in Japan, UK simmers in the UK, US simmers in their own area of the US. Certainly not all use the entire world, but certainly not the same 5% either. Therefore, your “studies” are, quite simply, rubbish, I’m afraid!
The marketplace has been announced as being open only to “invited” developers – yet major developers are stating that they were in fact pushed away from Flight, not invited to participate. There will be no SDK, so non-“invited” 3rd party developers, such as all who produce freeware, have no “opportunity” at all.
I’m afraid your post flies in the face of all evidence presented so far… or are you trying to claim inside knowledge with the pseudonym and saying that the information released so far, plus Microsoft’s own site, plus their releases and announcements, are not actually correct and factually accurate?
IanP, your post looks more like a rant, you really don’t have no clue about the FS market.
The study (is not mine) and is real, those cities that you mention makes less than 1% of the world. Regarding the 3rd parties you can not invite the whole world when you are beta testing (it seems that you are not awar how software is developed). As I said, the good thing is to have options, try them and then judge rather than speculating.
When you talk to some developers and well set companies, do you know how many copies do they sell with the current model? Most of them don’t reach 2000 copies, the hardcore FS community does not drive the market at all, having a Marketplace with potential reach of millions (5 millions copies of FSX btw), a normal day at VATSIM or IVAO you can not get more than 2000 users, that’s tiny compared with the potential. So don’t think that we (hardcore simmers) are the only market for FS companies (not just talking about MS, but Laminar and AeroFly), the marketplace will give more opportunities to small companies to survive and that means more option for all of us.
I am not affiliated to MS at all, but I prefer to take a more impartial view of the world, I use all FSims because I love some parts of each of them, but I just think that some people jumped into the hate MS (using the dollar sign) boat without real motives.
At the end is just a choice and I welcome new products.
I think you’re talking out of pure ignorance rather than me, actually. I named no cities and the countries and entire continents that I named make up a huge amount more than 5% of the world. So did you not read, or are you merely being ignorant of facts and statements that oppose your view?
While I am not affiliated with MS either, I do talk to a lot of FS developers and “simmers”, both hardcore and casual. The developers are either very angry at Microsoft – not because of Flight, but because Microsoft told them that they and their services were not required – or they are indifferent as Flight will not affect their business model at all. Some were treated more badly than others and have been very vocal in saying so. Many have been invited to join the beta and are stating that while Flight is not a total write off, it is missing many elements of being a realistic simulator appropriate for more than the casual user – but that’s not a small market in itself. Sales figures for “casual” add-ons would suggest that it is actually a far larger market than the “hardcore” users.
So I ask you again, who will be these “invited” players, without any freeware developers or any of the people who sell a lot more than 2000 copies? My personal guess is that it will be those that fit the market MS are aiming Flight at. It will be those that stay “within the SDK”, without pushing the boundaries or creating modules outside the simulator to bypass its limitations. They have to support this title. Not the developers any more, it all has to be done by Microsoft if they are the sole distribution source. They won’t allow anything in that will limit their ability to do so by a call centre worker that is reading questions off a checklist, because that’s their front line support system.
Personally, I see Flight as being a potential parallel path, but it will not and cannot ever replace FSX or X-Plane using the model that Microsoft have chosen – one that really is no surprise given that it is the way Microsoft’s senior management team have stated as their aim for years.
I neither “hate” Microsoft, nor Flight. I agree that Wim VS is massively off the mark in stating that VATSIM and IVAO users are a large market – they’re actually a microscopic percentage of the FS user base and an even smaller percentage of those that purchased the sim.
I stand by the facts – and they are facts – that you seem to want to ignore. Flight will not and cannot replace “whole world” simulators. It can and will only partially replace the casual user market.
In education someone said it takes a village to make it happen for the community. Thats what it took for flight simulation too. It took the developers to show Microsoft how to make a simulator. And that advanced more with each version. Now THEY SCREW some of the big players! The others that made it what it was and that knew the product better inside out than Microsoft did. And all of a sudden Monday morning quarterbacks are coming out of the woodwork as we say in the states claiming to know all about simming and FLIGHT! I never went wrong in all my years of simming in seeing postings from people that I have seen over and over. Developers that I have seen over and over. People that I became aquainted too back in 2007 at the Dev conference in Seattle. After reading alot in the past few days from people that do know and hearing alot from those that do not know in reality, I just got to go along with what looks like a majority of respected people’s opinions. Microsoft FLIGHT isn’t happening for me and surely not from Microsoft this time in a form of flight simulation.
I’m pretty sure they will loose the whole virtual airline community. Even pilots who fly on IVAO and VATSIM are left out in the cold?
IMHO those are still the largest buyer group.
Guess it’s gonna be FSX forever…
They are not the largest group at all, I belong to that group as I love IVAO and fly every day. But this is the hardcore simmers community and is tiny compared with the market.
What I would love is to see IVAO and VATSIM developing interfaces for all flight sims (add aerofly and prepar3d) so everybody can join using what they love.
I think Ian has some strong points. It is hard to comprehend if MS is actually keeping freeware (and non invited payware) developers away. MS FS wasn’t developed by MS only, it was, like all great endeavours, a community effort: MS + freeware + payware developers + all enthusiastic users that demanded more realism, they all pushed the boundaries together. Think of ActiveCamera, free for FS2002 – FSX now does it, think AES for FS2004 (Wilco Pub had FSNAT, a failed attempt at this in FS2002) – FSX now includes it (very poorly), 3D clouds were a freeware experiment in FS5… What Ian defends, that Flight is aimed at the more casual gamer, not the hardcore fan, is starting to make too much sense. Perhaps Bruce Artwick could buy the FS brand back 😛
About that study, I wonder if I’m different or what is the size of those 5%. For example: I recurrently fly Alaska bush around Anchorage for a VA and the pacific northwest since Holger Sandmann began improving it, mail flights in NE USA or transoceanic clipper flights (in a Golden wings install), airline flights mostly in western europe, cargo flights in french polynesia, safari flights in kenya. I’ll be bored around hawaii in no time.
I believe that the study is actually correct, but that “cantSay” is misunderstanding it, or indeed intentionally abusing it for their own ends.
Similar numbers have been proven for years, but in the way that I said, not the way that the other poster implied: people tend to fly in specific small areas, but note AREAS, not AREA.
When high quality scenery appears for an area, more people tend to fly there. Few people from Europe, North America or Asia, for instance, had spent much time in Australia prior to Orbx “reinventing” the entire island, at which point people flocked there. Then large numbers abandoned it and went back to Pacific Northwest, which has been a destination for flightsim users both casual and serious for several versions of the sim, when Orbx moved their attentions to that area.
Apparently and perhaps a little worryingly, I am personally responsible for getting a small but significant (although obviously not on the MS scale, just on a relative scale) group of people to fly in the UK, rather than elsewhere, because of the freeware scneries that I have created for the specific type of aircraft that they wish to fly.
Whether it be Gary Summons’s UK2000 in Britain, Richard Goldstein/Lago’s GeoRenders in the PNW, Aerosoft’s German Airports, or Orbx Australia and PNW again, people HAVE always gone where the detailed scenery is. In that respect the “5%” thing is right… But UK2000, GeoRender and the German Airports were ALL available in FS2000, FS2002 and to an extent FS2004. But you never had to fly there if you didn’t want to. Your local airfield may have been a single runway, but a) you could improve it or get someone else to and b) there was usually bigger, slightly better, one closeby. You had a choice. Flight is taking away that choice and forcing the user into those high detail areas and forcing the user to pay for the ability to do so (apart from Big Island of Hawaii, obviously…)
Michel makes some good points.
Did anyone see Flyawaysimulation’s account of their visit to the recent Flight! conference (Dec 13th)? Can I link to it here?(http://flyawaysimulation.com/news/4317/microsoft-flight-behind-scenes-at-microsoft-studios/)
One thing that they said was that Microsoft don’t give a hoot about the Sim community any more: quote – “It became too easy for previous teams to focus on the faithful. While this could be seen as a good thing, at some point this became a burden that stopped the product from expanding!”
We are a burden to them (shame), there’s no more profit in us, and anyway we are too much trouble. We don’t want to just buy a Sim and use it they way they wanted. we want to tinker, we want a complete model world of our own, we want realism and a great community. So 3rd parties get the add on spend and M$ who could never deliver that, only sell one measly $50 package.
Guess as a business their new strategy is not a surprise. The download model is not the point – that is a trend that most games are all going towards, as Michel said.
The basis of their marketing strategy is more suspect. According to Flywawaysimulation, M$ say they now want to target those people who attend Air Shows and Aviation Museums, but who mostly did not buy FSX. To use a dodgy UK analogy: that’s a bit like Train Operating companies targeting Steam Railway enthusiasts to buy train tickets to work instead of driving, (including offering a free ticket for one station!) Their survey sounds a bit like the fiasco we had in the UK in the early 1960s care of the infamous Doctor Beeching, the result of which decimated Britain’s railways.
The sad thing for M$ is that there is almost certainly no connection between an enthusiasm for flying on a computer and taking your kids out for the day to an Air show or Museum.
Good luck M$ – I am already spoilt for choice. It was FS2004 that got me interested in Air Shows not the other way around.
pretending to fly in the UK.
Team michel and Ian P here.
As for marketing strategy I suppose they want to follow the flow. Every simple game now shouldn´t be a challenge to anyone so the physic development that just eat cpu cycles will probably not be prioritized at all. Blizzard could make WOW look so much better but then they may get less subscribers. Look at the recommended specs •Dual Core Processor 3.0 GHz
•1024MB graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 5670 or nVidia GeForce 9800T or equivalent
•30 GB hard drive space
•Windows 7 SP1 64-bit
Will they scale down the graphics to increase the physics fidelity do you think? I would imagine that MS would put quite a bit of pressure on 3rd party developers to confine with these specs and not increase the hardware requirements to the degree a lot of the FS9/FSX addons do.
As I restate, is all about choices if you don’t like the model of MS Flight just don’t buy it (you will have the option to play it for free btw), but give it a try. You have very good options these days and breaking the single sim monopoly is a good thing as it pushes innovation.
Now, my whole point is that we should try it first, there are some simmers that will love it and some others will hate it, I have been using the alpha and beta versions and is actually really good and unfortunately due agreements I can’t share what I am seeing but I am really pleased.
It is understandable the frustration that many feel with the new model of having a simple world and use 3rd party to complement and enrich the scenarios. The team had to compromise on what to deliver, ACES had nearly 400 people, MS Flight hardly 20 so it is a different model. That’s why I find really strange that you have seen developers pushed away from the opportunity as MS Flight will heavily depend on 3rd party. With that team size I understand why MS may be working with a selected amount of partners, as there is no bandwidth.
I think it can be an interesting platform that may evolve in something brilliant, take FS9 and FSX, the default planes and scenarios suck but with the help of 3rd parties it really shines, I see no difference with MS Flight. It has the potential to join Xbox and have a massive community (as not everybody wants to build a cockpit a simple gamepad should do the job). But again is just my point of view, I have a lot of respect for sim developers no matter if they work for MS or Laminar or any other company and I am uneasy when I see people freely complaining about the hard work without even seen it.
I perfectly agree with you that with you that it is good news that there will be one more choice with the release of MS Flight. But I also understand that most of the hardcore simmers had other expectations from Microsoft and are kind of deceived. However, we should all give it a try as it is for free.
Now Ian is right that Orbx, PMDG and Aerosoft first were invited by Microsoft to a consulting circle during the first part of the development of Flight and then were all pushed out by Microsoft when they did change there strategy and the target audience at a later stage. Those three companies which are the biggest players in the industry by employing more than 150 people together don’t want to be part anymore of the new Flight strategy and the conditions Microsoft imposed on them. The thing is that those three companies are the largest contributors releasing most of the high end add-on products in the industry. If cantSay is really right that Flight is done by a team of 20 developers, them I am rather pessimistic on how they want to compete with those three heavyweights. Soon Laminar Research will have a bigger development team than MS 🙂 I’ve got X-Plane 10 and I like it a lot. However it will not replace FSX on my system anytime soon, but it has a lot of potential when Laminar will go on fine tuning and enhancing it over time as they never stop developing.
One more thing, the good thing about MS Flight is that as with every new version of a MS FS they draw the attention of the masses who try it and a small part of these masses joins our community of hardcore simmers to grow or stabilizes this market and ensures us that we stay attractive enough that companies can go on making a living by developing great add-ons for us.
Another reality is that with actual hardware and good add-ons FSX really shines and there is no pressing need to change to anything else. It’s time for the FS9 users to discover or rediscover this great simulator. With the right hardware and add-ons it seems like FS12 to me 🙂 With my new Intel Sandybridge 2600K overclocked to 4,7 Ghz and W7 64bit I can turn all the sliders to the right and fly anywhere in the world without worrying about framerates anymore. No need to finetune anything no more and this with three monitors. FSX was never better than today :), but it took us 6 years to get to this point and millions of frustrated users who gave up on Flight Simming in between.
Here is an exerpt from a post that I created at FlyTampa concerning how this MS Flight thing could not only work but be very popular with both pro and casual simmer. If they went this route, or something similar (contrary to what rumors and news is already out there)it could be very successful:
So this morning I was explaining to a friend of mine who is a non-simmer how FSX works and then we got into what Flight was and the current anger in the FS community about it and then I started thinking about how MS Flight could actually be successful. After thinking about it further I see this as the best course of action and if this isn’t what MS is doing then they will fail going forward.
My belief is that there will eventually be a SDK made available. I believe that it will be available to everyone, both payware and freeware developers. Developers will use the SDK, create their sceneries, vehicles or other addons and then submit them for approval to the MS marketplace.
The marketplace will be a one-stop shop for all your addon needs. No longer will you have to search the internet going to simmarket, Aerosoft, FlightSimStore, etc. Think of the marketplace like the android market place or the Apple App store. If you go to the Apple app store now and look for angry birds you can get it for free but there is also payware content for that very app. This will be good news for everyone except the current distributors. The nice thing would be that if you are only a freeware type person then you just search the freeware section of the marketplace. I think on my phone right now I have maybe three payware apps and the rest are freeware. There is no reason that MS flight can’t be the same way.
I regularly hear complaints here at FlyTampa from individuals that complain that they aren’t interested in buying a certain scenery because it’s in an area that they don’t ever fly. In flight you only pay for what you want based on what I’ve been reading. So if you’re primarily a US simmer then that’s all that you have to buy to be happy. If you want more then you can buy more.
As for the developers, you would essentially become a contractor (sort of). If MS goes this route then they get their cut the same as simmarket and Aerosoft do now (hopefully not as high of a cut- 30%-50%+ I believe is the going rate).
Another thing to consider for MS is a monthly newsletter for all registered users. In the newsletter you advertise all the upcoming quality payware “apps” coming to the marketplace, and periodically advertise some of the more popular freeware submissions.
Marketplaces do work if done right and I can’t see why this wouldn’t work.
Except that MS have specifically ruled out an SDK being made available, not immediately – ever. They don’t want freeware or anything they don’t control in the sim, it appears, which makes sense given that I strongly suspect most “FSX” and “FS9” errors and problems are actually due to 3rd party additions or “tweaks”.
It would take a total change of direction for them to allow an SDK to be released. What they may do, potentially, is to bring up other developers to replace the ones that have alienated, but from all the factual information available, the direction they want is the total opposite of what those developers create anyway.
They can still “control” the content the same way that the Apple app store does. Scenery, planes or others can be accepted or denied access to the marketplace the same that Apple does. That is how Apple keeps crap from being available. And yes, they would have to do a change of direction and mend some burned bridges with some payware developers. But freeware is a huge part of most marketplaces and without it in MS Flight it is certain to fail.
“…without it in MS Flight it is certain to fail.”
That’s the part I disagree with, unfortunately. Flight can survive quite happily without freeware.
This is the point where sales figures that people are reluctant to openly discuss come into play. The more complex and the more detail you add, for the majority of developers (not all), the sales go down. Abacus produce total dross and market it for every sim from FS8 to X, but it sells in droves. Likewise low cost, default capability only, GA and airliner add-ons tend to outsell the high-end stuff. There are a lot more “casual” simmers than “pro” simmers would like to admit.
According to MS in the past, they have estimated that around 10% of flight sim purchasers have any DLC – pay or freeware – installed at all. Most FS
userspurchasers who haven’t just shelved the thing are using default scenery, default aircraft and default capabilities. MS have taken the chance that most of them don’t care about AI, or radio nav, or ATC and have ditched those components. Is their chance correct? Probably yes, it is.
These are the people that MS are targetting Flight at, not us. They don’t want PMDG or VRS, but they’d love Orbx. So that’s what MS are giving them. If it’s pretty and easy to use, Flight will be very popular with low-level simmers – a.k.a the majority of purchasers of the sim in the first place.
It has every opportunity to succeed at the marketplace it is positioned for.
I guess we’ll see. You are right in assuming that I’m still thinking of the current FS community is an important part of the business but maybe they aren’t, I guess we’ll see. If it doesn’t work then they can use my idea (just shoot me an email to thank me).
To me this will come down to a few things
– what will the downloadable content be and how pricy? If this is just a way for me to skip paying for crappy standard out of the box planes that I won’t fly anyway I don’t mind.
– if there is no full world option to download (at reasonable price) this will be a complete no-go for me
– if there are no third party addons allowed I won’t touch it, if thrid parties can provide their addons through an MS portal that may be acceptable but they can’t kill off the freeware community…
– FSX addons have to work for this to make any sense as the visual improvments don’t outshine FSX by THAT much and if you have lots of addons you will not want to pay everything again. If MS wants to treat us they include backwards compatability for FS9 also but although this would guarantee a buy from me I don’t see that happening…
If the above are botched I think there will be a huge move of serious simmers to X-plane, with the entire 3d party industry and community following…
Just to complement this thread, I have received XPlane 10 and tried it this weekend. I was really excited as I really wanted to properly compare against MSFlight.
I don’t know if you had the opportunity to run it but is sooo buggy that I gave up, worst than the FSX release. Now, is still the first release and I will give it another try once the first patch is release, in the same way that I will wait for the full release of MSFlight, but here are some interesting points:
EDIT BY MODERATOR:
While your points may well be both valid and interesting or otherwise, we shouldn’t have to remind you that the Flight beta is CLOSED, not open, and that you are subject to an NDA. Please do not post confidential beta information on public forums, even if others have before you!
When I first got FSX, all I wanted to do for hundreds of flight hours was explore the scenery and do missions. After I had seen all I wanted to see, I branched out to the lessons which is one of the best parts of the sim. When I learned all I could from those, I joined a VA. I rarely fly VFR anymore or explore. All my flying is for my VA now.
If others are like me, this game is going to stop them at step 2 in my journey. Pity. They will however get some good fun before they run out of stuff to do.
FS has been different for me than Tibs’, my flying has been mostly GA bush flying but I have never been contempted at flying in one location only. Although I’ve flown mostly in alaska, first in anchorage area but then, with the growing quality of pacific northwest, also in the alaska panhandle, I’ve also flown the caribbean, pacific islands and europe (airline flights). And occasionaly I enjoy flying other areas as well, like africa, south america, asia (historical flights for ex.). My point is – I enjoy flying the world and I enjoy variety. I was bored fast in Flight Unlimited, after I flew all their missions/adventures (which were great!, but finite). So for me to want to use Flight, I’ll need to have larger scenery options than just hawaii, even if at first it will be interesting. Lets see.
So I’ve tried the beta and I can tell you that it is a game. It reminds me of Pilotwings from the old nintendo. I don’t say that to be mean but it is hardly a sim but more just entertainment and will not be a replacement for either FSX or Prepar3d.