Like many of you, I was enjoying a nice, relaxing and peaceful Sunday afternoon. I was flying from TAPA (V.C. Bird International Airport) to KMIA (Miami International Airport) in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and thoroughly enjoying all the awesome visuals and sheer smoothness of my brand new gaming machine I recently built and very much like how we all learned that Microsoft was developing a new simulator way back in 2019, the news broke that Microsoft/Asobo were planning to release yet ANOTHER brand new simulator next year titled Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024.
Since retiring back in 2020, I will admit that some days I question just what day of the week it is and even find myself thinking to myself that “I can’t believe it’s already June”. But after watching the 2 minute and 14 second teaser video, I was wondering if I had some how stepped into some alternate universe and found that it was actually April 1st? Or has June 11th somehow now become the new “Fool” day? You can view the teaser video below.
Unfortunately, the content of the short two minute video sent the flight simulation community into a tailspin. Forums and Discord channels quickly became a buzz of comments, questions and rightfully… concerns regarding what exactly we were watching. Is this an expansion to the existing MSFS 2020? Is this a brand new sim? If this is a brand new sim, then WHY? What happens to all my prior MSFS 2020 purchases? Will this cause 3rd party developers to abandon projects for MSFS 2020? What was Microsoft thinking? Is this just a money grab by Micro$oft? Will this become another Train Simulator like platform? etc. etc. etc.
The somewhat startling thing was this news came out of the middle of nowhere. Third party developers such as Aerosoft, Fenix, PMDG etc. were all finding out about this new simulator at the same time as the community. The entire flight sim community was simply left scratching their heads over what seemed like a pre-mature announcement by Microsoft/Asobo.
Before retirement in July of 2020, I had spent the better part of three decades in IT Management. In my various roles within the realm IT it was always our goal to ensure any sort of announcement didn’t create panic and uncertainty within the userbase. Any sort of surprise announcement would always include a detailed FAQ which for the most part helped to prevent the sort of panic, frustration and thousands of questions something like this could generate. Unfortunately, Microsoft/Asobo failed in this department with this announcement.
As the sun rose and a new day unfolded, Microsoft/Asobo did provide a short FAQ which addresses a few of the large elephants in the room. Yes, MSFS 2024 will be a completely new standalone sequel. Yes, MS/Asobo will continue to support MSFS 2020 based on the current roadmap. Finally, with very few exceptions, virtually all add-ons that work in MSFS 2020 will function in the new MSFS 2024.
I’ve been a computer based flight simulation enthusiast for over 40 years and have truly enjoyed every version of Microsoft Flight Simulator ever produced and of course Prepar3D during the time between FSX and MSFS 2020, a very big part of me is extremely excited about the MSFS 2024 news. Of course, I’m also concerned with the fact that in its current state, MSFS 2020 still has many bugs and limitations. Of course, Microsoft has stated in the FAQ that MSFS 2020 will continue to be supported post the MSFS 2024 launch. So time will tell.
When I first learned about MSFS 2020 and certainly after the initial launch of the new sim, I have quietly had some concerns regarding how Microsoft/Asobo could sustain not only the base product, but also all the future development, expansion and of course the cost of the infrastructure that is required for MSFS to function. While I’m sure the initial sales of MSFS 2020 certainly went a long way to helping achieve that important ROI (Return on Investment), I did question how things would work in the future. After all, while Microsoft has introduced a few extra add-on DLC’s to the MSFS 2020 platform, I personally have not purchased them. Likewise, I also don’t purchase any of my 3rd party add-ons via the Microsoft Marketplace. Every third party add-on I’ve purchased, I’ve purchased direct from the developer.
With all that said, and again for me personally…I’m not sure why Microsoft/Asobo just didn’t create a DLC add-on that incorporated all the new features mentioned in that trailer to be added into MSFS 2020. But of course, I’m not in charge of MS/Asobo so what I think matters very little.
I’m sure over the coming weeks/months we’ll certainly learn a lot more about Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 and I’m also confident we’ll also soon begin hearing from 3rd party developers on just what we can expect from them both in products yet to be released into MSFS 2020 and beyond to MSFS 2024.
It’s too early for me to commit to words whether MSFS 2024 would be something I would upgrade to on day one. I think at this point in time I would need to better understand what the differences between the two sims are based on my style of flying. While the new features showcased in the trailer look cool. I’m just an old commercial and GA flying enthusiast.
Based on all that we know (and don’t know) today, I do applaud Microsoft/Asobo for all that they have done for the flight simulation community. There’s no doubt in my mind that Microsoft 2020 is the absolute best flight simulation platform available to the home sim enthusiast. I’m confident that MSFS 2024 will raise that bar even higher and in my opinion, no other developer of a sim platform can or will exceed the current MSFS 2020 or the future MSFS 2024 in the next year.
I’ll certainly relay any new information as it becomes available and will of course share any personal thoughts regarding that new info in future blog postings. Thank you for taking the time to read.
In my last blog post where I discussed the upcoming MSFS AAU2 (Aircraft & Avionics Update) which is due to release on 23 June, I briefly mentioned some issues I had been having with my gaming PC. The PC in question, I called GBS Beast Mark V (which was the 5th gaming machine I had built in recent years). I built the machine in May of 2018 (5 years ago) and at the time it was pretty much top of the line with an Intel i7 8700K CPU, Nvidia 1080Ti GPU and 32GB of RAM. It performed well with the games of that time period including American Truck Simulator, Euro Truck Simulator 2 and Prepar3D Flight Simulator. It performed OK with the new Microsoft Flight Simulator. However, sacrifices had to be made with some graphic settings in an effort to keep the FPS above the 30 FPS mark.
However, over the past month or so I had been experiencing several issues which caused concern for the overall health and longevity of the machine. I’m pretty good about keeping backups, so about two weeks ago I made a backup of everything I needed and a few days later the machine finally rolled over and said no more. I quickly put a plan in place to start looking at the costs of building a new machine which would obviously be more powerful and hopefully future proof for at least another 5 years.
GBS Beast Mark VI
Obviously technology has taken a huge leap forward over the past several years and certainly so since 2018. As previously stated, I wanted to try to future proof any new build everywhere possible. As with previous builds, the most intensive gaming I play is flight sim. To truly maximize the total immersion possible, any new build would need to have the very best CPU and GPU available and that’s what I’ve done with this new build.
GBS Beast Mark VI features an Intel i9 13900KF CPU on a Z790 motherboard and cooled with a liquid CPU cooler. In addition, I’m going with the top of the line Nvidia 4090 24GB GPU. In addition, I’m adding three Samsung 990 Pro NVME SSD’s and reusing three Samsung 870 Evo SSD’s from the old machine. Total storage capacity will be 8 TB. In addition, I’m adding 32 GB RAM (DDR5) which is more than enough for the games I play and all this will be housed in a massive (largest case I’ve ever used due to the massive Nvidia 4090 GPU) Corsair 5000D Airflow ATX Case.
As I have stated many, many times over the years. I tweak my system for smoothness and typically don’t concern myself too much with how many FPS I can get from the hardware. As stated above, my old gaming machine was still capable of giving me a fairly smooth experience around the 30 FPS mark in Microsoft Flight Simulator. Of course, I had to dialed down some of the graphics settings in order to achieve this, but nonetheless I was able to enjoy the sim just the same.
Of course, the beauty of having this extremely beefy system now with the i9 13900 KF CPU and the truly awesome Nvidia 4090 GPU, I’m pretty much able to run my graphics settings to the full extreme and still enjoy a smooth, buttery visual experience at 60+ FPS with both the Fenix Airbus A320 and the PMDG Boeing 737-800.
The WOW Factor
I’m literally blown away at the huge leap forward I’m experiencing with this new PC and it very much reminds me of how I felt 5 years ago when GBS Beast Mark V came to life. But of course MSFS wasn’t around at that time and has completely changed the flight simulation landscape. Over the next few weeks I’ll continue tweaking the new machine and will post my settings once they are all dialed in the way I want them. While I’m not saying one cannot enjoy MSFS without a 4090 GPU, I will just say that it is absolute joy to see the virtual skies in all their glory without sacrificing performance.
It’s great to have a gaming machine once again and I look forward to many years of what I believe will be truly awesome experiences in all the simulation games I enjoy. Obviously, Farming Simulator and American Truck/Euro Truck will certainly enjoy the benefits of the updated hardware, but of course not to the same level as MSFS since that is both a CPU and GPU extensive simulation.
Over the past few days I’ve been watching different streamers showcasing the AAU2 (Aircraft & Avionics Update) beta for Microsoft Flight Simulator. This update which is scheduled to release to all users on 23 June and is a partnership between Asobo and Working Title and will bring a major overhaul for both the Boeing 747-8i and the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner.
I’m particularly interested in the Dreamliner as I believe this will be our best chance of seeing this aircraft in the sim at any point in the near future. From what I’ve seen, and while the beta still has some challenges to overcome, it’s going to make for a very nice addition to the virtual hangar. Upon release I would expect the default MSFS Boeing 787 Dreamliner to be just as flyable/enjoyable as the QualityWings 787 in P3D.
Speaking of QualityWings and MSFS. Last month I posted my thoughts on the “PMDG 787 Dreamliner Rumors” which was making the rounds on social media. While we’ve not heard anything further on this possibility, (and it’s possible Robert Randazzo was just trolling the flight sim community) I just don’t see any sort of partnership between PMDG and QualityWings ever coming to fruition. While the development team at QualityWings remains silent on the subject of MSFS….it’s certainly not something I think we’ll see this year and actually may never see happen.
While we’ve had the ability to enhance the default MSFS 787 with the HeavyDivision Mod for over two years, I believe this update for both the default 787 and 747 is fantastic news for the flight sim community. In addition, I could see where the HeavyDivision mod could (once it is reworked after the AAU2 changes are implemented to further enhance the experience.
While I’ve not had the opportunity to install the AAU2 beta (experiencing major hardware issues at the moment), I trust the few individuals who have spent time with the beta and shared their opinions. I’m looking forward to the official release on 23 June and truly believe this update to the default Boeing 787 will help bridge the gap until PMDG releases their 777 later this year.
About two months ago, there was a Community Q&A livestream between a YouTube Content Creator named FilbertFlies and PMDG’s Robert Randazzo. During this 3 hour, 32 minute and 48 second event a question was asked by FilbertFlies regarding whether or not PMDG would be interested in developing a Boeing 787? The response from Robert is somewhat vague, but his response nonetheless has lead some to believe that PMDG and QualityWings could be planning to work together to finally bring the much loved Dreamliner into MSFS. But is this true? Is this really what Robert Randazzo said?
Let’s break down the conversation which took place at the 2:17:00 mark of the video (see video below).
FilbertFlies: Might you make a 787?
Robert Randazzo: (long pause), Hmmmm, Would I like to? Yea…Sure…Hmmm…So we’re having some conversations about that with someone else.
FilbertFlies: Woooo, that’s interesting!
Robert Randazzo: Yea, hmmmm, yea it is. The people we’re having that conversation with actually make 787’s. So it’s an interesting conversation. But yea, sure….why not.
Of course, Robert didn’t mention QualityWings by name, only that “The people we’re having that conversation with actually make 787’s”. While this could be QualityWings, it could also be the team behind the HeavyDivision mod as they are developing a stand alone 787. But….it could also mean that PMDG is talking with Boeing. After all, PMDG has a longstanding relationship with Boeing and all of the PMDG add-ons are officially licensed Boeing products.
In my opinion, everyone that has jumped to the conclusion that somehow, someway PMDG and QualityWings will join forces to bring the 787 Dreamliner to MSFS is putting the cart way ahead of the horse.
But don’t get me wrong….I understand why a PMDG/QW partnership makes sense. After all, the team at QW has all but gone dark with any new news regarding their plan to bring the 787 into MSFS. While we’ve known for some time that QW is working on it, we haven’t heard from them in a really long time. The last comment I’ve found on the QW forums was back in March 2022 where they mentioned “the Q2 2021 estimate for the 787 was way off. We’ve decided that for now being quiet is better than giving wildly inaccurate deliver estimates”. While I can appreciate QualityWing’s does not want to set a release date, I certainly believe they could and should provide some news on at least a quarterly basis just to let us know things are progressing. But I suppose at the end of the day, QW can run their company as they please.
The bottom line is, we just simply don’t know precisely what Robert meant with his comment. For now, I’m optimistically hopeful we’ll see the PMDG Boeing 777 release sometime this year and I’m sure a study-level, high fidelity Dreamliner will eventually make its way into MSFS at some point in time. Until then….we just have to wait and see.
Let’s get right to the question and to the point on this particular topic. The question today comes to us from a fellow flight simmer named George.
Hello GrizzlyBearSims, Like you I’ve been around the flight simulation community for a couple of decades. I’ve noticed a recent trend since MSFS has come onto the scene with some folks selling their aircraft liveries. I wanted to get your opinion on the matter. I for one have never paid for an aircraft livery and don’t plan to change this anytime soon. George
Well George and all who may read this blog post, I’ve been simming for a really long time and while I’ve purchased many third party aircraft and even more airport or scenery addons, I’ve never paid one red cent for any aircraft livery and certainly don’t plan to change this behavior.
The observation George has made unfortunately is correct. Since the release of MSFS in August 2020, we’ve seen all sorts of behavior which was almost certainly unheard with previous flight sim platforms. In the past, individuals would create liveries for various aircraft types and provide them to the community. You can search all the various flight simulation websites and find hundreds of liveries being offered up by the community at zero cost. Most 3rd party aircraft developers like PMDG, QualityWings, Fenix, FSLabs provide a wide range of liveries which cover most of the real world airlines in operation today.
The unfortunate fact in today’s new world of flight simulation is there are many individuals who are looking to make a quick buck out of those who are brand new and just don’t know any better. Also, just as unfortunate…there are 3rd party developers who are also doing the same thing by pushing out “Frankenstein” aircraft which utilize the default systems of aircraft. In many cases they have done this very crudely and in my opinion all in an effort to make a quick buck with unsuspecting new users.
With the launch of Microsoft Flight Simulator, the numbers of new flight sim enthusiasts have exploded beyond anything I could have imagined and as a result there are thousands of brand new simmers who don’t know any different. Fortunately for PC users who are in the know, there should never be a need to spend money on aircraft liveries. But I’m afraid the same won’t be true for those on the console platform as the only way they will have access to aircraft liveries which aren’t included with the aircraft will be to purchase them via the MSFS Marketplace.
It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform those of you who regularly read my blog that our dear, dear friend….Eustace Pharmer aka Atomic67-Gaming recently passed away. Like many of you, I met and got to know EP via his YouTube Farming Simulator Channel. While EP was not responsible for me starting my own channel, he was truly the inspiration and mentor in which I continued to strive to be in my own efforts of developing online content. While EP wasn’t actively producing content on his main channel, he had been actively working on a new project where he released daily YouTube Shorts featuring daily inspirational messages on his Percy Wyatt Relaxation channel.
As we all know, EP was a perfectionist in all that he allowed us to see and often times we waited anxiously for his next installment of what ever he was producing. But it was his shear talent and love for all of us that he put into each and every production he released on his channel. For me personally, each time I received a notification of new content from his channel, I knew it would be absolute gold. However, his greatest love was in helping others. Whether it was helping someone understand various elements with the games he played or helping someone start their own channel, he did it because he loved doing it. This was his true passion and the legacy in which he leaves behind.
While there are many content creators who were inspired through EP’s efforts, I’m lucky to have been able to call him a friend and was fortunate enough to be able to meet him face to face on one occasion about 5 years ago. EP and his wife were flying through Denver on their way out to Las Vegas and we met up at the airport for lunch.
In the 8+ years I knew EP, I got to know the real man behind the YouTube personality and to be honest….there really wasn’t much of a difference. EP was a loving husband and father and just an all-round good man. Thank you for your friendship and all the kindness you shared with me over the years. You will be dearly missed….but NEVER forgotten.
A few weeks ago I was perusing through the various social media platforms and groups I belong to and discovered a discussion taking place regarding why simulation based games are so popular. One individual in particular was (in my opinion) trolling the group and making various references that simulation based games are the absolute most boring titles he had ever witnessed and just couldn’t understand why people would spend countless hours playing these types of games. He referenced two which I myself enjoy, Flight Simulator and Farming Simulator.
One point he attempted to make was if you wanted to farm or fly, just go do it in real life. He went on to compare the costs (specifically with flight sim) where one could easily pay for the lessons and time to obtain a PPL or Private Pilots License. I attempted to follow the discussions for a few days but finally lost interest as it was pretty clear to me he really had no clue what he was talking about and most likely was a kid just trying to get a reaction from the group. Anyway….
The gaming industry today is big and growing even larger. If Google is correct, the total industry size includes 3.2 billion players and some $197 billion in revenue during the year 2021 and the forecast for 2022 was expected to hit $200bn. Needless to say, there’s something for everyone when it comes to video game content.
As for me personally, the reasons I enjoy simulation based games is most likely not unique. While at one time in my life I had a dream of learning to fly and obtaining my PPL, this just simply isn’t possible any more. However, through the awesome Microsoft Flight Simulator platform I can fly anywhere in the world from the comfort of my mancave and enjoy each and every minute while doing it. I can role play anything from a bush pilot flying into the Alaskan wilderness all the way to a commercial airline captain flying into small or large international airports around the world. And with the beauty of MSFS, I can fly into a large airport in my jetliner and then depart in a small single engine aircraft and spend time sightseeing around the region.
I’ve known many fellow flight simmers who have used their virtual experience to propel them into various aviation careers such as private and commercial pilots and air traffic control. Many pilots I’ve known through the years continue to use the various flight simulation platforms (in some degree) to brush up on their skills. Likewise, I’ve read about individuals who have come of age with ATS or ETS2 and have used that experience to take up a career in trucking/transportation. I also know of a few individuals who have started working on farms because of their interest and passion from Farming Simulator.
The level of immersion has always been a number one requirement for me in any simulation based gaming title. I’ve discussed many times before that in my opinion the bar has been set fairly high by the flight simulation genre as what truly will define any other simulation gaming title. I’ve discovered in the past where developers have labeled their titles as “Simulation”, but found many reasons why that misses the mark greatly. Any simulation based title must provide an “As Real As It Gets” experience to truly immerse me into that virtual world.
For the simulation based titles I play the most (Flight Sim, ATS/ETS2 and Farming Simulator) the level of immersion is high enough to allow me to completely escape the stresses of the real world for an hour or more as I simulate the life of a pilot, a trucker or a farmer in my own virtual world. And it is for this very reason why I sim.
Why do you sim?
Thanks for taking the time to read. Until next time…
One of the most common questions I receive from readers of my blog is regarding FPS improvements in Flight Sim and in recent months (for obvious reasons) these questions are concerning MSFS or Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020). Just in the past few days I’ve received three different emails asking for pointers on just how to squeeze out a few more FPS on the platform. While I’ve provided a few tips/answers to these emails already, I’ve selected one of those email questions to feature for this article. Let’s go!
Hello Jerry, I’m really struggling to achieve 60 FPS within MSFS when flying either the PMDG 737 or the Fenix A320. My hardware setup is not that much different from what you are showing on your blog site and I’ve also attempted to match your MSFS settings. The best I seem to be able to achieve is about 35-40FPS with mostly clear skies. But this number drops down to 25-30 FPS in cloudy/stormy conditions and about the best I can achieve on the ground is in the mid 20’s. I’m fairly new to flight sim with MSFS being my first introduction. I don’t seem to have these issues when flying the default Cessna and my other games also seem to be fine with 60+ FPS. What gives? JP
Thank you JP for your email. First, allow me to state for the record that I don’t get a consistent 60 FPS in MSFS with my posted settings. I never have. For many years I used to really stress over this fact until I finally realized that within flight sim a steady 60 FPS isn’t necessary and second to that, is really, really difficult to achieve especially when flying the more complex airliners like PMDG. On my current hardware configuration, really the only way one could achieve a steady 60 FPS will require the graphics settings to be turned down really low and that’s just not something I’m willing to do, nor do I feel is necessary.
One of the best solutions I can provide to you is fairly simple. Setup your sim the way you like it, which will provide you a smooth visual experience and simply forget about the actual FPS number. I realize this is probably the advice you were not wanting to hear, but trust me….once you get MSFS dialed in where you have stable visuals and just simply ignore the FPS number, your overall enjoyment factor will increase.
Over the past couple of decades I’ve used all flight sim platforms from FSX, P3D and now MSFS. I’ve always been somewhat behind when it comes to hardware specs. Today, my gaming machine is approaching 5 years old. When it was built and for a few months I perhaps could have considered it the top of the line at that time, but that’s no longer the case. Even after upgrading my GPU to the 12 GB 3080 Ti back in the late summer of 2022, I’m still running an older spec CPU which went into the machine in 2018. These specs just aren’t capable of running MSFS at a steady 60 FPS or more with the desired visual settings I require in the sim.
Having said all that, what I can say is based on my current hardware and my MSFS settings which I’ve posted, I have a steady sim with zero lag, zero stutter and all the beautiful eye-candy that I require in my sim when flying the PMDG or the Fenix. Some may argue with me, but flight sim does not require a solid 60 FPS to be enjoyable.
In closing, the Microsoft/Asobo team have made incredible progress with better maximizing the performance of the platform and I’m sure over time this will continue. In addition, the Fenix team have done the same with even more work currently in progress. The best advice I can give anyone reading this is to dial in your graphics settings to the point where you can achieve a stable experience with no lag and no stutter, then forget about the FPS number. Once you’ve done this, I promise you can enjoy flight sim without the stress of chasing 60 FPS.
Our first reader question of 2023 comes to us from Spencer who is relatively new to flight simulation. He’s asking a fairly common question regarding whether he should invest in a set of rudder pedals. Before I get to my answer/opinion, first allow me to tell a story. Way back in the early days of my own flight simulation experience, I spent a ton of time in the sim with only an inexpensive joystick. At some time in either the very late 90’s or perhaps early 2000’s, I purchased my first yoke. It was the CH Products Flight Sim Yoke and incredibly I still use it today. Yes, it’s held together quite well and has saw me through many generations of flight sim platforms including FS9, FSX, P3D versions 2 – 5 and now MSFS. It’s at least 23 years old (could be as much as 24-25) and with the exception of needing to adjust my null zones a little higher due to it being less sensitive in its old age, it still works really well. I subscribe to the theory that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it or in this case, don’t replace it.
Now back to that inexpensive joystick I used over a quarter century ago. Like I said, it was cheap…but it worked and while it didn’t include a “twisting action” to control the rudder, I just simply used the “auto-rudder” settings in the sim to get around this. Of course, when I upgraded to the CH Products Yoke I still had to continue to use the “auto-rudder” settings inside the sim as I had no additional control over the rudder action.
Within a few weeks of adding the yoke, I then purchased my first set of rudder pedals. Way back in the early 2000’s we really didn’t have a huge selection of add-on hardware like we do today. I paired the CH Products Yoke with a set of CH Products rudder pedals and of course turned off the “auto rudder” feature. I couldn’t believe how much this pairing improved my flight simulation experience. To this day, I still use this same combination of hardware. However, my first set of pedals stopped working after about 5 years and I replaced with the same.
So to get back on track, even if you currently use a joystick with a “twisting action” to control the rudder function of the aircraft, I truly believe your overall experience and certainly your immersion will be greatly increased by adding a set of rudder pedals to your flight sim setup.
For me personally, when/if my CH Products pedals finally stop working I will most likely replace them with something in the $130 – $200 range unless I can get a good deal on the TM TPR pedals I mentioned earlier.
Bottom line and to close this out, I believe rudder pedals are a must have for any flight simulation enthusiast. I really don’t believe I could, nor would want to fly without them.
Once upon a time, there was an abundance of various freeware add-ons available to the flight simming community. During the late 1990’s and very early 2000’s the amount of freeware (as compared to payware) was huge. Actually the amount of payware content was actually pretty scarce. Of course I’m talking about the time period when Flight Simulator 98, Flight Simulator 2000, Flight Simulator 2002 and Flight Simulator 2004 (FS9) were in their hay day.
With the rise of FSX in 2006, third party developers (of whom, many are still in business today) came onto the scene and began producing the most excellent payware products from airport sceneries, ground based textures, weather add-ons and of course some really awesome aircraft. Unfortunately this is the same time period that we began to experience a decline in freeware alternatives. Or should I say “Quality” freeware alternatives.
The freeware decline continued through the life span of the Prepar3D reign. However, for the most part the X-Plane community during this time frame did have a very active modding community which produced some really good freeware add-ons, but for me I just never could enjoy X-Plane the way I had enjoyed FSX or P3D. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, I had a fairly sizeable investment in FSX/P3D that I just couldn’t ignore and was most likely the reason I never considered X-Plane a substitute. But I digress…
Fortunately, for those of us who are fans of the Microsoft Flight Simulator family (including P3D) the introduction of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) platform has brought about a renewed interest in quality freeware add-ons. Almost from day one of the release of MSFS back in August of 2020, fellow flight sim enthusiasts have been releasing quality freeware add-ons for the new platform. Of course one of the absolute best freeware additions has been the Airbus A320 mod from the FlybyWire team. This team took the default Airbus A320 which was included in MSFS and over time have created a freeware version that rivals that of just about any payware, study-level aircraft on the market today. The Microsoft Flight Sim family of platforms (including P3D) has never seen this level of quality in a freeware product and the FBW team won’t just stop at the A320. They are hard at work in creating an Airbus A380 model from the ground up which hopefully will be released sometime in the Q2 or early Q3 2023 timeframe. I honestly can’t count the number of previously announced A380 projects which have been announced over the years for P3D that have never made it beyond the planning stages and the FBW team will have one in our sims very soon.
Of course there are hundreds if not thousands of other freeware add-ons available for MSFS including various utilities, aircraft liveries and airport mods. There are a few airport mods I’m using in my sim today that rival the quality of work we typically see from payware developers. I frequently check the Flightsim.to website which has become the “go-to” place for creators to host their freeware add-ons.
Why is Freeware so important to the community?
First and foremost, not everyone can afford to spend their hard earned money on all the various payware that has and will be released for MSFS. Due to the willingness of these freeware developers to devote their time to creating quality add-on alternatives for the community at zero cost, this allows everyone the opportunity to enjoy the hobby without a huge investment. In addition, I also believe the vast catalog of freeware options is helping to keep the prices of payware at a more affordable price level. I believe we’ve already experienced the impact of this with the Fenix A320. The Fenix A320 is available for an incredibly low price of just £49.99.
The Quality of Freeware Alternatives
As I’ve already mentioned, we’re already witnessing examples of freeware being on-par with payware options. In addition to the FBW A320 I’ve already mentioned, another example is the recent release of the Doha Hamad International Airport (OTHH) which released in early December at the price tag of €19.99 by MXI Design. An absolutely stunning freeware version has been available on Flightsim.to since May 2021 which not only includes the OTHH airport but also various enhancements covering much of the city of Doha is included.
However, it must also be said that not all freeware is created equal. But of course the same must also be said about payware options (but I’ll save those comments for another article). One of the major challenges with some of the freeware airports that I’ve run into has been centered around issues when MSFS has been updated through the various Sim Update versions and the time it takes for the freeware developers to make the various adjustments needed. Of course, this is not an issue isolated to the flight sim community. We see the same issues with other games which allow mods to be used like ATS, ETS2 and Farming Simulator.
In closing, as someone who has been been enjoying the flight simulation hobby for over four decades and has witnessed freeware come, go and come back again…I’m extremely excited for the future of MSFS with successful freeware efforts at the very heart of the platform. I hope you are as well.