Steamed Microsoft Flight Simulator X

News broke earlier this month that Dovetail games, makers of popular train simulators, had been granted “a global licensing deal with Microsoft, granting them the rights to develop and publish all-new flight products based on Microsoft’s genre-defining flight technology”, Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX). The company will be “investigating new concepts in this area and is expecting to bring a release to market in 2015.” More recently it was announced that Flight1 has partnered with Dovetail games and the companies “will be working in partnership […] for the launch.

The initial goal for the FSX franchise is to distribute it via Steam, Valve’s digital distribution platform. FSX’s main competitor X-Plane has been recently made available over Steam.

FSX Cover.jpg
FSX Cover” by May be found at the following website: GameFAQs. Licensed under <a title="Fair use of copyrighted material in the context of Microsoft Flight Simulator X” href=”//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FSX_Cover.jpg”>Fair use</a> via Wikipedia.

What I expect from the first release

The points below are my best guesses and in most cases things I wish not to see in this new release.

  • Bugs. Lots of bugs. FSX was first released in 2006 and both software and hardware has come a long way since then. The issues you can expect to encounter are well documented on flight sim forums so support will be available. The question is: Will Steam’s users accept FSX in this state?
  •  Integrated micro-transactions. The train simulator industry is well-known for having multiple add-ons. In one way the flight sim community is well-accustomed to paying for add-ons. We will now see FSX add-ons in the Steam store.
  • It will be interesting to see how the pricing scheme is set. Those of us who enjoy FSX already own a well-customized copy so we are unlikely to buy it again from Steam. Drawing new users will be the big challenge.
  • No updates to the multiplayer mode. Currently if you want to fly with your friends in FSX you have to join via IP. I don’t expect this to change in the first release although it is something which needs to be addressed sooner rather than later to ensure FSX:Steam’s success.

What I don’t want to see

  •  Closed ecosystem. Currently one can download add-ons of all kinds from a number of different sites and install them directly into FSX. With the Steam integration and partnership with Flight1 it would be a shame to be forced to buy all add-ons from Steam or Flight1 and not be able to take advantage of the wide array of add-ons already available.
  • No improvements to the core software. This is a big one for me. FSX has remained the unoptimized piece of software it was when it was released eight years ago. In the mean time CPUs have gained more cores, RAM capacity has increased and GPUs have improved in leaps and bounds. While updating the core software will not have any flashy results, it is sorely needed if Dovetail wishes FSX to remain as popular as it is now. Its competition benefits from the technological advances made over the last eight years and so should FSX.

All-in-all I am excited to see FSX being developed again. It will be interesting to see what improvements the first release, slated for 2015, will bring to the table and how Dovetail will update FSX to today’s standards.