There is plenty to be excited about, as the trailer was fantastic… but I see a lot of overly optimistic expectations which, I am afraid, will lead to some disappointment.
As any flightsim enthusiast, I went through the trailer several times to squeeze every bit of information from it… but this new Flight Simulator has been a well kept secret and none of the flight simulator developers I know has been involved or consulted for this project.
So, here is what we know for sure:
- This new simulator is called simply "Flight Simulator"
- It will be available for both XBox and PC (most probably through Microsoft's digital download platform, possibly enabling you to use it both on the Xbox and PC with a single licence)
- It will be included in Microsoft "Game Pass" service
- It will feature a number of different planes from small seaplanes to airliners
- It will allow you to fly anywhere in the world
What we do not know:
- If it will run on XBox "Scarlet" (my guess: yes, sooner or later)
- If it will have an SDK and allow content from third parties (my guess: not on Xbox - the console version will at least have some form of moderation from Microsoft)
- Be backward compatible with FSX addons (my guess: no, and it is a good thing)
- How powerful your hardware needs to be to run the sim at a reasonable speed
What I hope:
- Microsoft hopefully learned the lessons from Flight and Flight Simulator World
- Microsoft will allow us developers to continue producing and selling add-ons as we did in the past
- Microsoft will provide some sort of backward compatibility for the code and flight models (note that, unknown to many, this was planned in quite a smart way in FSW by providing a compiler for XML gauges)
- Microsoft hopefully got some hint from the latest versions of P3D (which introduce a number of great features) and X-Plane
And now… a quick look at some screenshots with my comments (and my guesses...for what matters):
Wether it True Sky or not it looks great… the sea in this shot is less impressive, and so is the fog. But still an awesome shot.
I've seen people afraid that, since it will be also on XBox, it will be dumbed down (for those "stupid gamers")… like if recreational flight simming is a serious thing ;-) ! But no, I do not think it will be the case. Much like you could play most of the FSX missions with an XBox controller, here you will be able to fly around and play mission with one. So, it will be like FSX.
The big question is… will it support third parties and smaller developers like me? Maybe. Or maybe not. From what I have seen so far, Microsoft has learned a lot from the Flight fiasco...but never underestimate the capability of a large corporate to make stupid decision when they see a potential for a business model they like. And the current ruling business model in entertainment is "subscription" (rather than DLC).
In any case, I am pretty sure that, even if third parties will be allowed to sell their stuff, the content on the Microsoft Platform will be moderated - for a number of legal reasons.
This may kill smaller developers like me... but we'll see.
Flight Simulator may kill P3D "home" market (which is not supposed to exist but it does) and may push P3D in its own niche of education/serious simulation - I would not be surprised if LM starts to enforce some strict controls on the licences in future. We'll see what P3Dv5 will have to offer, but I believe this announcement weakens P3D position a little.
On the other hand, if Microsoft screws up for the simmers, Flight Simulator may actually mean a larger audience for XP11...as disappointed simmers may jump to that platform.
Time will tell… for the moment, let's enjoy the simulators we have: it will take some time before we get our hands on this new Flight Simulator.