Early last year, Microsoft announced that they were pulling the plug on their Flight Simulator franchise, and essentially fired the very talented ACES development team, which brought us titles like Flight Simulator X. This shocking news upset the entire FS community, who for years were devoted and loyal to Microsoft's FS line. Since then, an entire year has gone by with no news about the future of Flight Simulator. Sure there are competing products out there, but nothing truly compared to the immersion and realism that FSX delivered.
Personally, I think Microsoft made a terrible mistake by disbanding the ACES team. I would like to know if anyone out there has heard anything about Flight Simulator's afterlife. Will it be resurrected? Is there any company/game development lab who has picked up the pieces and is willing to bring new life into the FS arena?
The unfortunate reality is that the overwhelming majority of MSFS customers, millions of them, were casual gamers who were not as immersed in the hobby as the tens of thousands like us. Once it became clear that the software was no longer going to be supported the casual gamers simply moved on to other products, which is exactly what you'd expect them to do.
This left a much smaller remaining community of hobbyists to work out the future of pc based flight simulation. The problem seems to be that most of these individuals have imbedded themselves so heavily into MSFS, both financially and through experience, that they are the most reluctant to try different products. I personally know folks who have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of US dollars annually on MSFS addon products, and continue to do so, even though FSX has been dead and buried for over a year now! I, myself, have spend a fair amount on hardware (though I am a strong critic of most commercial vendors. There are a few who really deliver though.)
So, where does this leave us?
It seems, that until the hardcore simmers begin to have functionality problems with the current software due to its obsolescense, they will not take the initiative and attempt a migration to a new or supported flight simulation product. This will stifle the type of strong development needed from freeware and payware required to bring those products up to the standards we want.
I, myself, have XPlane loaded on my machine. It's a massive program, with what I feel is superior potential when compared to what FSX had to offer. The difference, of course, was that there were and are so many ardent MSFS supporters willing to work around it's limitations to make fantastic addons.
Just imagine what we could have if that were applied to a program with the type of fluid dynamics modelling and spatial flexibility of XPlane?
For the time being we'll just have to imagine it, because there has been little movement this past year by the community in trying to realize it.
I've flown XPlane maybe three times. I plan to do more this year, now that FSX is now running the way I hoped it would two years and two CPU's ago.
I suggest you do the same. Just break out of the mold and try. It's really our only hope right now!
Unforunatly XPlane usability is not for the faint of heart. Its interface is not user friendly nor is it intuitive for the average person. Just setting up the controls takes a good 30 min to figure out where they are and then another 30 trying to figure out how to set them up.
Its graphics are far below that of FSX, and even though its a more accurate physical and aerodynamic simulation of the real world it is all for nothing if you don't enjoy the experience.