Microsoft Flight Simulator — What’s the deal with payware planes?
For $62.30, $69.99, or $78.94, you can buy the Fenix Airbus 320, PMDG 737, and Leonardo MD-80, respectively. These three payware jets were recently released for within a few weeks Microsoft flight simulator. This is the same simulator that some people can play for as little as a dollar initially, since it’s part of the Xbox Game Pass service; a promotion that Microsoft seems to have reservations about continuing to give out to newcomers. Even if you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in full, it only spends $14.99 per month to play Microsoft flight simulator, among other games. Those who decide to buy the sim directly need only spend $59.99.
The point here is that it doesn’t matter how you access Microsoft flight simulator, the core sim itself is still significantly cheaper than some of those new add-ons mentioned above. Unlike full games, these add-ons only tend to drop in price after they’ve been in the market for quite a while. In other words, for the next three or five years, if not longer, these prices may not change significantly. And yet Simmers everywhere have been complaining about these new planes for the past few weeks.
A lot of noise…
In the case of the PMDG Boeing 737 in particular, their launch was so grandiose that they crashed PMDG’s website portal in the blink of an eye Hour. Even when the site came back online, purchasing was temporarily disabled to avoid further swamping the system. This hiccup was not resolved until the next day.
For an aircraft incapable of going supersonic, the release of PMDG’s 737 brought the same thunder as a sonic boom. I’ve been flying it since launch and it’s the first time in almost 20 years that I’ve spent so much on a add-on product for a sim that I’ve become a fan of the genre. Although I enjoyed it, I keep asking myself one question: what was it about these products that particularly interested people? now?
…over a lot
Before we look at the now, we must look at the before. As I have said in previous deep dives Microsoft flight simulator, the current status of the franchise is at a much higher level than it was five years ago. In fact, the series was still in a relatively weird phase of being “actively dormant” at this point, which is nice to say that it was essentially alive in all but one official capacity.
In 2009 Microsoft closed ACES, the former main studio for Microsoft flight simulator. That left his last big project, FSXto live on as a semi-supported legacy project. It was then passed into the hands of Dovetail, who ported it to Steam; his most important resting place to this day. The Sim’s DNA lived on as an offshoot bearing the name Prepare3D Flight simulator, created by Lockheed Martin and created with licensed code from Microsoft. Quiet, FSX: Steam Edition was the true last bastion of the official series and was mainly kept “alive” by nothing other than the real topic of the day: add-ons.
FSX was left largely untouched by Dovetail in terms of core functionality. Add-on products of all kinds were what really carried the Sim through the intense 15-year gap between her and the new Microsoft flight simulator 2020. As rigs became more powerful, these add-ons became more complex, delivering increasingly impressive results, all in the genre’s long-standing quest for “true realism.” But that’s the thing. FSXlike pretty much every other flight sim, didn’t just use add-ons to enhance the experience – they almost felt like a necessity.
Add-ons have always been a staple of the flight sim genre. Flight sim developers arguably pioneered the whole concept of buying additional content for an existing product; something the entire gaming industry today cannot escape.
That explains why studios like PMDG have such a loyal following. Many of these developers have grown alongside the Sims themselves and have become household names over the years. PMDG in particular has been developing add-on products since the 90’s, a point I’ll revisit in a moment.
“As True As It Can Be”
Some of the more diligent Simmers have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars outfitting their sim of choice. Various landscape and texture packs, weather machines, complex airports, and coveted “study-level” aircraft like those previously mentioned have long ensured that players get the richest experience out of their core simulation. products like FSX suffered from old age, which made the pursuit of advancement even more difficult. But there are more modern titles like X Plane 11 which also leave a lot to be desired as an out-of-the-box experience.
I bought XP11 Mid-2020 as a makeshift in between FSX and Microsoft flight simulator. I thought it would be cool to have a more modern point of comparison, especially considering I’ve worked with Microsoft’s series pretty much my entire life. I was only mildly impressed with Laminar Research’s simulation, however, and quickly discovered the pretty deep rabbit hole of freeware and payware add-ons I would need to really get the most out of it. Which brings us back to the arrival of add-ons like the PMDG 737 for Microsoft flight simulator.
Based on what we’ve found so far in this article, the answer to why people are clamoring for such add-on products seems to be that it’s simply a continuation of tradition – this never-ending search for “the best.”
Here’s the thing, I can’t quite look at it through the lens of the seasoned cooks who have devoted themselves to top-notch products for years. I’ve seen some of their rigs and am impressed with them. Some of these people pretty much have a cockpit at home, and it’s amazing. They take their craft very Seriously, and that’s why having a “study level” aircraft is essential to getting the most out of all that complicated gear.
This has basically always been the case in this genre. But for someone like me who has never really explored this sector of the genre despite always having been a fan, it’s a different experience. One of the reasons I suddenly made this decision was FOMO, I’m not going to lie; I was drawn to all the gossip leading up to the release. But beyond that, I think a big part of the answer lies in something that PMDG itself said – this is really a new frontier.
No, actually this time
As everyone knows by now Microsoft flight simulator is a textbook example of a next-gen game. The feature set of its engine is stunning, to the point where there continues to be so many screenshots and videos that even long-time simmers often question whether or not they’re seeing an in-game capture or a real image.
Basically, Microsoft flight simulator features scenes that players at the time could only imagine. It’s essentially what we always do searched what our Sims should look like, and we’d look for every add-on, utility, and tweak out there to try and capture the essence of such a feat. But that doesn’t pretend. The simulator is gorgeous it is complex, and it is Only its mechanics will be expanded over time – all ready to use.
In PMDG’s last teaser video before the Boeing 737-700 was released, it was mentioned that the team had been working for “decades” to get to this point. Getting back to the earlier point, how the studio has been developing flight sim add-ons since the 90’s now can the scope of his vision really be realized.
Microsoft flight simulator has opened up this coveted next step, the Is correct tipping point where it no longer needs to be faked to make it. Texture work, flight dynamics, lighting, weather engine and thermal simulation, and simulation of various systems are no longer constrained by primitive coding.
These add-on developers have always made the difference, but they could never go beyond what the sim they were developing would allow. And since some elements of a given simulation could only be improved with external products, getting all of their various add-on products up and running has always been a balancing act for consumers.
Everything is there now Microsoft flight simulator as a complete package that developers have full access to. Not to mention PMDG has even worked closely with Asobo to ensure the 737 is fully featured. Because of this, the release took longer than expected. There was so much more than PMDG felt it needed to make it work as it wanted to offer a fully original rendition rather than an augmented re-release.
At the end of everything…
And here we are. What can I say about the PMDG 737 almost a month later and a few dozen flying hours under my own belt? I like that. It’s a beautiful plane with a great soundset, cool features and nicely detailed systems. I enjoy the complexity while not being overwhelmed because the team thinks ahead and makes it accessible to both newbies and sim veterans.
But I probably would never have fainted enough to get into it if the sim itself wasn’t already offering so much. Therefore, now more than ever, such add-ons have a chance to thrive like never before. I hate to admit, at least to my wallet, that I just spent more on flyovers the last two months than for the last 19 or so years i was a simmer. It feels worth it now; the flight dynamics, the scenery, they all match to make these planes look and feel authentic. is it perfect Of course not, but it’s immaculate.
As I write this, I’m enjoying a quick Florida hop in the Milviz Cessna 310, another highly detailed flyer that I bought based on extensive word of mouth. But again, I love it. Sure, it’s only $20 less than the sim itself, but I appreciate the attention to detail.
I also have a stream deck in my Amazon cart, not for streaming games but to further enhance the immersion in my sim experience. Slowly but surely I’m sinking deeper into this hobbyist hole. And all because, unlike in the past, it is not the add-ons that sell the sim, but the sim itself advocates for the add-ons. Woe to my wallet and my better judgment, because the search for the best surrounds me – and it’s beautiful.