I realize there may or may not be a lot of flight simmer types here, but having so many in the industry in general I’d be interested to hear any thoughts.
MS recently has killed off the Aces team that was behind Microsoft Flight Simulator and the sim community is quite up in arms about it of course. I just came across the post below on avsim.com related to it, though it’s all unattributed. Any guess as to how accurate this might be with regards to what the article calls the future plans of the franchise? What’s being discussed here is moving a product from a direction it’s taken for decade with an active group of people developing addons for it, to a Windows Live scenario with an iPod paid application download system for addons and the like.
Very possibly all nonsense, but again I’d be interested to hear opinions from your own perspectives.
The Facts Emerge - The future of MS Flight Simulation
Posted: Sunday, February 8, 2009 - 20:01
There has been a lot of speculation, rumor and simple guesses as to what Microsoft is going to do with the Flight Simulator “enterprise”. Through a number of sources, some of whom are former ACES members, we have been able to get to the bottom of where our hobby is heading, at least as far as Microsoft is concerned. Our sources will remain anonymous, for obvious reasons. Here are the hard, cold, and very disappointing facts:
FACT: Microsoft Flight Simulator for the PC is dead. There are no plans to continue the FS series in a form that we would recognize. The wholesale dispatch of the ACES team speaks volumes to this.
FACT: ESP is dead. Boeing, Raytheon and presumably Northrop Grumman (ESP’s first adopters) received notification that the ESP franchise is done and that, in effect, they are on their own. We have seen some discussion putting hope in the emergence of ESP as the next “engine” for flight simulator. That is not going to happen.
FACT: Some developers in our hobby approached Microsoft to purchase the MSFX code. Microsoft rebuffed that offer in total. We presume that this is because having the FSX code out there would “diffuse” their future intent and model for a flight simulator “replacement”.
What is Microsoft’s future intent as regards flight simulation? Simple really… Create a flight simulation system for Windows Live, and sell applications for it much like Apple does for their IPhone / Ipod family. Third party developers will have to submit their applications, as do Apple developers, for approval by MS and they in turn would earn a percentage from the sales of those applications. Vendors that we have talked to are extremely upset about this. It also brings back memories of the infamous Papa Tango attempts to hijack freeware.
Imagine for a moment a “live” simulator that has as its core a “Flight Unlimited” like virtual world. You can fly around a very small part of the world in the default system, but to add to your simulation world, you have to purchase the additional scenery from MS. You want more than a 172, a Baron, or a 737? Simple, purchase it via the Live system.
Imagine for a moment the availability of liveries that would be made available. Without approval by the airlines, you can imagine the lack of variety in the “live” modeled aircraft. Under the present arrangement, freeware is seen as free advertising for the United’s, American’s, Lufthansa’s and others of the world. Insert the dollar into the equation, and it is reasonable to expect that our current arrangement with carriers would evaporate. Would MS consider providing freeware via its live system? Don’t hold your breath – too many liability concerns, copyright infringement risks, product support and management issues to take on for free.
What about VATSIM, IVAO and the plethora of other peripheral attractions that we now benefit from? Imagine paying to connect to VATSIM for an hour or two of supervised flight. Spend some time thinking about the ramifications of this, and it only gets scarier.
We have a simple new reality to face up to; Microsoft has changed their business model as regards the flight simulation genre and we are seeing the first steps of that new model taking hold. We can assume that a “live” version will entail online subscription costs per month or year, and additional add-on’s will cost us.
Note - I’d link directly to the post itself, but avsim just isn’t built like that for some reason. Search down the page for February 8 if you want to find it.