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etheris

My thoughts on FLIGHT's real target market.

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I tend to be long winded but I'll make this one short and to the point. I will also preface this with stating that this is simply my own views, opinions and perspectives on the matter.Microsoft seems to have made a significant departure to the traditional Flight Simulation franchise. Two of the more salient changes that immediately comes to my mind is the fact that the base package (again in my view basically a DEMO) of FLIGHT will be FREE DOWNLOAD for everyone. Second, it seems almost certain that there will be no freely distributed open "SDK" for third party developers to use or even for the freeware community to publish at no cost. Third, Games for Windows LIVE will be an integrated and manditory system for those that wish for anything more than just the default island of Hawaii and the ICON A5 plane. Microsoft has stated that in order to get the second "free" aircraft, one must sign in with gamertag online... so it is safe to assume that any DLC purchases will also require Windows Live ID/etc...Microsoft, like any other corporation out there, is here to make money. As a corporation its sole obligation is to the stockholders and shareholders. So it is also logical to conclude that Microsoft's departure with FLIGHT was done with the intention of maximizing the monetary aspect of the game.I believe the reason they are giving the base package for free (essentially a free DEMO) and splitting FLIGHT into piece meal components with microtransactions and DLC... is because they probably project the vast majority of casual gamers will only purchase a few DLC that combined actually cost LESS than a full FLIGHT game would be...Think of it like a pyramid. The very elite simmers that spend thousands of $$$ represent probably tiny fraction of one percent of the entire possible audience base. Microsoft is actually trying to WIDEN its total audience reach by giving the Flight out for free and doing the DLC approach. The difference between this approach and a DEMO is that a DEMO is FREE but for anything more you would still have to pay "full price".... With this move, MS is likely targeting the people that WOULD be interested enough to download the DEMO but WOULD NOT go out and pay $65 for the full game. MS would only do this if it reasonably believed that this segment of the audience (those that will just purchase one or two extra planes, spend like 15-20 bucks instead of 65 bucks before getting bored) far outnumber those that would purchase the "full game" or those that are hardcore simmings, far outnumber both in terms of total users and total revenues/profit....So following this reasoning, one might draw the conclusion that MS true target audience is actually the most casual of the casual gamers... basically the bottom of the barrel and lowest common denominator...Thus this is the reason why MS can afford to spurn the hard core simming community and developers like PMDG, LEVEL-D, Orbx, etc... Because MS true target audience (those casual casual gamers that spend LESS than the price of a full game) don't really care about complicated 737NGX or the likes thereof...So I suspect that MS will simply make its own addons, and there will actually NOT be that much of a variety... for couple reasons... because their target market is the lowest rung of the pyramid scheme.... all MS has to do is hit the most saliently mass appeal aircrafts first. (ICON A5 being one of them already!) and provide the low hanging fruit.... In fact providing too much selelction is a bad thing, it lowers the ROI per aircraft/addon/dlc and it confuses the casual casual gamers.... MS knows that its true target audience is only going to spend like under $20 total for/on FLIGHT and probably download three or four of the most popular, fun, mass appeal aircraft... so it is not benefitical for MS to create every aircraft under the sun...This also translates into the following: only major cities will ever be created. Think, Tokyo, Las Vegas, NYC, etc.... all the everything in between will not be touched....Effectively, FLIGHT seems to be a crippled, handicapped game that would never become a viable platform for the real simming community.

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Odd as it may seem, with only a couple of exceptions, that was as cogent a summary of what Microsoft's master plan might turn out to be that I've read yet.The two exceptions are:

  1. SDK: We simply do not know yet as Microsoft themselves have not said yea or nea yet. Until it's on their official website, it's hearsea.
  2. Target Audience: It would only require some additional, non-scenery and non-aircraft downloadble modules to add the missing functions a "serious simmer" will require. We don't know yet what the DLC might be.

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+1I agreed with everything you say, except one part, which while it may be true, I cannot AGREE with.

Microsoft, like any other corporation out there, is here to make money. As a corporation its sole obligation is to the stockholders and shareholders. So it is also logical to conclude that Microsoft's departure with FLIGHT was done with the intention of maximizing the monetary aspect of the game.
What a sad world this has become, when the only goal that a large Corporation has, is to make money, for a few, selected FORTUNATE people, who are the Shareholders.Whatever happened to the ideals of giving something back to the world.In the past, this would seem to be one major benefit of MS Flight Simulator. While it may not have been the post profitable product that MS produced over the year in terms of "Money for Shareholders", it certainly touch the lives of so many , and gave positive benefit to so many.How may current Real world Private and Professional pilots can trace their initial interest, back to their being inspired by MS Flight Simulator. etc ec ...When life becomes just all about MONEY, and the greed to accumulate more of it than others, then maybe this is one reason why the world now finds itself in the sad state it is today.

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+1 to the OP.I think it is safe to assume that until MS Flight is released we don’t really know how it will turn out – good or bad.My thoughts on this is that I am going to wait for at least a year after release before I decide whether I want to spend money or not on the DLC. In the meantime Orbx, PMDG and other 3rd party developers have great products planned for this year and this is what I would prefer to spend my money on.By waiting for at least a year (maybe more) after MS Flight is released it will give me a much better idea on where this game is going and whether it will turn into a Flight Simulator I would be interested in. That doesn't mean of course I won't try the demo out of curiosity if comments in the forums appear favourable.

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Even PMDG CEO said that once again, the Marketing department at MS won the "battle of demands".
Well, if the CEO of PMDG say that, it HAS to be true !!! :( :( I'm totally convinvced now :(

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I saw on the Microsoft or Microsoft at CES website mention of a new comercial SDK (don't remember for what, wasn't really paying attention) is going to be released in February 2012.This might be the SDK needed for games that run on Windows Live, and hence Flight, or something completely un-related. So it could be on its way, you never know.

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I agree with the points you make OP, especially about the targeted audience. More than likely, MS hopes they can wrangle enough "low-hanging-fruit" who initially use Flight to boost their Live Experience Points for other games, then have them locked-in for paid DLC down the road.The current scope, direction, and implementaion does seem incredibly near-sighted (this approach is usually associated with Wal-Mart bin games or Flash games for Webkins...), but we'll have to wait and see if there is "scalibility" in both the game and the MS product team.

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+1I agreed with everything you say, except one part, which while it may be true, I cannot AGREE with.What a sad world this has become, when the only goal that a large Corporation has, is to make money, for a few, selected FORTUNATE people, who are the Shareholders.Whatever happened to the ideals of giving something back to the world.In the past, this would seem to be one major benefit of MS Flight Simulator.While it may not have been the post profitable product that MS produced over the year in terms of "Money for Shareholders", it certainly touch the lives of so many , and gave positive benefit to so many.How may current Real world Private and Professional pilots can trace their initial interest, back to their being inspired by MS Flight Simulator.etc ec ...When life becomes just all about MONEY, and the greed to accumulate more of it than others, then maybe this is one reason why the world now finds itself in the sad state it is today.
Oh my... Welcome to the real world. "What a sad world this has become" should be "What a sad world this has been for ages" and "When life becomes just all about MONEY" should be "Because life is just all about MONEY" the world has been in a sad state for ages...MS Never made FS to please us. Heck, even one of the biggest and most popular FSX addon devs shouted out loud not long ago he is not here to please his customers, for which he had names you wouldn't expect on a public forum. Time to wake up, I am afraid.Mind you, I do agree it's sad...

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The target audience for what is being marked at right now at CES and in many of the promotional videos are the gamers. They have to get gamers interested in Flight, in order to meet their goal in attracting a broader user base.Flight already has the attention of flight simmers.

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I think the problem is we were mostly all hoping that FLIGHT would have scalability. A sort of "all things to all people". I don't think most of us would really care that much how dumbed down the GUI interface was or how much arcade missions was injected into FLIGHT so as long as the customizations, the free SDK, the accurate weather, flight dynamics, physics engine, etc were all there and FLIGHT could be scaled up to be the simming platform that the community had hoped that it was. It does not look to be that way.
I believe that Flight does have this scaleability. Some will be in the free core (enabled through options) and some of the more advanced features, like ATC, might come in the form of DLC.
Whether or not MS has several other "regions" already created for DLC is not the point. Fact is, the earth in the FLIGHT universe will be heavily fragmented and most of the vast 99% of it will not be rendered or created anytime soon. Is MS going to develop all the landclass, terrain, textures etc themselves? Because if MS is going to start with Hawaii and then piecewise piece meal other regions to other developers like Orbx and such, its going to be a mess... It will be like how Google Earth looks like today from up high.... very fragmented and ugly...
Didn't MS (the Aces team) "develop all the landclass, terrain, textures etc" for FSX themselves? And aren't many of us using FXS with scenery addons (and aircraft, and other features) that were made by a number of different 3rd party developers?
WIth the LOCKED down aspect of FLIGHT, freeware will be impossible. Communities like AVSIM will cease to strive. Freeware developers will have nothing to do. Just to name one thing off the top of my head, FSRecorder will not be able to make it into FLIGHT.... Without FSRecorder and other neat utilities, FLIGHT becomes increasingly useless. Also, how will VATSIM work in all of this? With this move FLIGHT will elminate the real simming community to create in its place a casual game for windows live or xbox360 live gamertag community that does not care about virtual aviation.
That is not necessarily true. Some freeware might work with Flight. It just may take a while to figure out how to add it.

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That is not necessarily true. Some freeware might work with Flight. It just may take a while to figure out how to add it.
It is hard enough to make something for FSX using the SDK. It will be nearly impossible to do so for Flight without it especially if MS goes after freeware as zealously as they are going after info about the beta.

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Addon mods are made for other games, when no SDK has been released. It can be done, with the right tools (which will have to be developed . . . which could happen),

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You're projecting. Right now Flight is a PC-only game. It is not a console game. I doubt the the 360 could even run it. Where would all the DLC go?

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Because Flight is not Cyrsis. And it relies on DLC (which is going to require a LOT of hard drive space).

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I think the problem is we were mostly all hoping that FLIGHT would have scalability. A sort of "all things to all people". I don't think most of us would really care that much how dumbed down the GUI interface was or how much arcade missions was injected into FLIGHT so as long as the customizations, the free SDK, the accurate weather, flight dynamics, physics engine, etc were all there and FLIGHT could be scaled up to be the simming platform that the community had hoped that it was. It does not look to be that way.Whether or not MS has several other "regions" already created for DLC is not the point. Fact is, the earth in the FLIGHT universe will be heavily fragmented and most of the vast 99% of it will not be rendered or created anytime soon. Is MS going to develop all the landclass, terrain, textures etc themselves? Because if MS is going to start with Hawaii and then piecewise piece meal other regions to other developers like Orbx and such, its going to be a mess... It will be like how Google Earth looks like today from up high.... very fragmented and ugly...WIth the LOCKED down aspect of FLIGHT, freeware will be impossible. Communities like AVSIM will cease to strive. Freeware developers will have nothing to do. Just to name one thing off the top of my head, FSRecorder will not be able to make it into FLIGHT.... Without FSRecorder and other neat utilities, FLIGHT becomes increasingly useless. Also, how will VATSIM work in all of this? With this move FLIGHT will elminate the real simming community to create in its place a casual game for windows live or xbox360 live gamertag community that does not care about virtual aviation.The broad appeal might work for the broad market, but MS will NEVER be able to squeeze more profits off the hard core simmers by using this approach, if anything it will just turn them away and make them seek out other alternatives. If MS truly wanted to milk the hard core segment, they would not be doing all these things to close and locked down FLIGHT...What is wrong with attracting a larger base while still releasing a free SDK for those of the dev and simmers that don't want in on the games for windoze live nonsense? It almost seems like with this move MS is purposefully stabbing the hard core community in the back out of spite.
First off Kudos to the original poster. A well thought out piece. Now as far as the above statement I truly feel with the firing of Aces the understanding by a development team of what Flight Simulator has been about over all these years has been forever lost. Flight is under a team of people who specialize in general games. The look and feel of the menu in Flight suggests that and is nothing like the traditional makeup of Flight Simulator (this is a gaming team). With both post we may be giving this new development team far too much credit in the 'thinking' department. I don't believe they thought all this out like what you describe. Their trying to do the cookie cutter approach, one size fits all marketing tactic for all their titles. They don't view Flight Simulator as a unique creature, it's just another game that needs to be controlled. The new team has no history with the FS community, they tried at first but found it too much work, it was much easier to crawl back into normalcy of other titles and make/market Flight like Halo with the same limited restrictions. They want Flight to operate on the same network platform as any of their other games.Bottom line is Aces is gone and the new team whoever they are are just trying to get something out without any real reference and years of relationship building. There's no real advancement over FSX in Flight that Orbix couldn't have done and performance is yet to be seen. This team was too lazy or didn’t have the manpower of the Aces team to develop the whole world so they made it easy on themselves and did one island. The more complicated reasoning is a long shot to give this team credit for... I wouldn't be surprised if the flight models in Flight are total crap. Flight I believe needed to get done alongside however many other XBOX titles this year (or whenever the planned release cycle is). I picture all this stuff being developed on the same small table (not really but you get the point) in Redmond on a fraction of the level Aces had who released more titles than just Flight Simulator.

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"The team behind Microsoft Flight consists of roughly 50 people, including a mix of professional pilots, 40% of which worked on the previous team."

Doesn't this mean that roughly 20 of the 50 member Flight team were on the Aces FSX team?

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"The team behind Microsoft Flight consists of roughly 50 people, including a mix of professional pilots, 40% of which worked on the previous team."

Doesn't this mean that roughly 20 of the 50 member Flight team were on the Aces FSX team?

The real question is how many of these people are artists and mission designers and visual system programmers as opposed to people with real flying backgrounds.

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Ya know, some people here are going to just take anything positive about Flight and spin it into something negative. Be a doomsayer if you like, but I'd much rather give Flight the benefit of the doubt. I too would have preferred that Flight was released as a complete package, and an immediate replacement for FSX. But MS decided (at this point) not to do that. Personally, I think that is a bad decision ... but my ego is not so fragile that I feel like I'm more qualified than MS.We all have two choices here:1.) You can decide that Flight is just an arcade game if you like, and write it off.2.) Or you can quite being so negative and accept the POSSIBILITY that Flight is going to be a decent flightsim, and give it a chance.I'm going with #2.

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"The team behind Microsoft Flight consists of roughly 50 people, including a mix of professional pilots, 40% of which worked on the previous team."

Doesn't this mean that roughly 20 of the 50 member Flight team were on the Aces FSX team?

I stopped believing what's put out in print on various sites who claim to know when in the end the resulting product is an effort like Flight. Microsoft's Flight website had allot of great stuff as well:Welcome! We’ve created this section to provide news and updates direct from the Microsoft Flight development team. We’ve been getting all your emails and comments and are creating this central point of contact to respond to your questions. Currently, we’re still early in the development process, so there are many things not yet ready for detailed discussion. We’ll address what we can for now and will provide more in-depth information over time.Since the very first introduction to Microsoft Flight at Gamescom back in August 2010, we’ve received a tremendous response from both new and longtime Flight Simulator fans. We truly appreciate the warm welcome back. For this inaugural “News from the Development Team” update, we want to give you some context for our new direction. For starters, we’re still some time away from launching the product — far enough out that we are currently unable to provide any details, such as the launch date. We apologize for any frustrations this may cause. We can’t wait, either, to deliver this new experience to all of you! We’re delighted to be able to provide a view into our game at such an early time and to share our progress as we get closer to finalizing the product. We’ve never reached out this early in the development cycle before, so hang in there, and we hope you enjoy the sneak peek.A number of you have asked, “Why did you drop ‘Simulator’ from the title of the game?”In addition to the FAQ on this topic, we want to directly address the concern that by dropping the “Simulator” from the name, we’re dumbing down the experience. Quite the contrary! We’ve developed on the “simulation” aspect for many years and have no intention of losing that legacy. What we’re doing now is improving the total experience while building on this legacy, enhancing the enjoyment for all who share a passion for flight. The more people who join us in the Flight experience, the greater the opportunity we’ll have to do even more.Many of you are concerned that because we want to appeal to a wider audience, we must be building an arcade game.We don’t need to create an arcade game to welcome a wider audience. But we do need to improve the total user experience if we’re to be successful in welcoming new audiences into the experience of Flight. The passion and fascination of flight is powerful, with so many different aspects to aviation and different levels of enjoyment to experience. There is distinct value and strength to be gained by welcoming a wider audience, and we can’t claim to have done the best job of it in the past.What does appealing to a wider audience mean?It means improving the user-interface experience, achieving better performance on today’s hardware, providing more focused challenges for people who aren’t quite sure what to do next, and introducing more persistent experiences for people who return often. It also means keeping alive the freedom to go where you want (Ed.: as long as it's on the island of Hawaii!), when you want, and to do what you want. Regardless of their hardware power, piloting experience, or level of interest, many people have enjoyed the traditional flight-simulation experience as a solitary activity. We see a compelling social aspect to the experience inherent in the fun, and we need to better enable and support this dynamic to strengthen the entire Flight experience for everyone.Based on the previous webisode, we’ve heard, “This doesn’t look any different from FSX!”As we said in the introduction, we’re still early in the development cycle, so the fact that you comment on the similarity to FSX is great! This comment alone should ease some of the arcade concerns. Please follow along with our progress as we continue to release more webisodes, screenshots, and additional information. In the end, we hope that you’ll have a great time looking back at these early samples and being part of the evolution. Thank you for all your enthusiasm and support!If you want to get advanced notice of updates to this section and the website in general, please sign up for our mailing list at https://live.xbox.co...tactPreferences.Thank you,The Microsoft Flight Development Team

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We all have two choices here:1.) You can decide that Flight is just an arcade game if you like, and write it off.2.) Or you can quite being so negative and accept the POSSIBILITY that Flight is going to be a decent flightsim, and give it a chance.I'm going with #2.
+1 #2! :wink:I have to say that I kinda like the idea of DLC... I think it's cool having something new offered all of the time. Of course I hope the DLC won't cost a fortune... But I would be nice to see MS Flight becoming better and better week after week...

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I'm reserving judgement on #2 until at least the NDA is lifted and some of the testers can give us some concrete feedback (it should be clear the direction the devs will take it, and we might also have nore info on how often DLC is expected to be released).

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So you prefer to put more weight on stuff like the speculation and guesses that are posted on this forum? . . . . at last as far as those posts that agree with your conclusions.I'm sorry, but I haven't seen any PROOF that MS is not doing exactly what they stated on their Flight website.EDITED: what I was replying to has since been removed.

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Ya know, some people here are going to just take anything positive about Flight and spin it into something negative. Be a doomsayer if you like, but I'd much rather give Flight the benefit of the doubt. I too would have preferred that Flight was released as a complete package, and an immediate replacement for FSX. But MS decided (at this point) not to do that. Personally, I think that is a bad decision ... but my ego is not so fragile that I feel like I'm more qualified than MS.We all have two choices here:1.) You can decide that Flight is just an arcade game if you like, and write it off.2.) Or you can quite being so negative and accept the POSSIBILITY that Flight is going to be a decent flightsim, and give it a chance.I'm going with #2.
I don't think I am being negative, more like cautious, even slightly optimistic about some things for which there is some basis.For instance, people in this forum, who know something about FSX have stated that the flight model appears to be better and at least one of the planes can perform aerobatic maneuvers that have not been possible in FSX. Nice and I hope it is not a one-off just for this plane. At least it seems possible to do.However, I refuse to be optimistic where there is no evidence or even worse, there is evidence to the contrary to what wishful thinkers are posting. Case in point, the SDK, World coverage and quality of add-on planes for start.We have absolutely no evidence that there is even one 3PD, but we have heard from people - who might know if there were - that they have not heard of any. So, call me a pessimist, but I doubt that we'll see any high quality aircraft for a long long time, if ever.I have no doubt that Flight will be visually better than FSX, but we don't know the cost. Is the cost the lack of AI, real-time weather or was FSX such a dog even after SP2 that we can get great FPS and still have all FSX functionality? Then why is this functionality not being beta tested. Will it only be tested by paying customers?You can stay optimistic and I will continue to point out when you don't really have reason to be. I may be wrong, but this is a discussion board. We can't just have it filled with posts on one side of an issue.

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I don't think I am being negative, more like cautious, even slightly optimistic about some things for which there is some basis.For instance, people in this forum, who know something about FSX have stated that the flight model appears to be better and at least one of the planes can perform aerobatic maneuvers that have not been possible in FSX. Nice and I hope it is not a one-off just for this plane. At least it seems possible to do.However, I refuse to be optimistic where there is no evidence or even worse, there is evidence to the contrary to what wishful thinkers are posting. Case in point, the SDK, World coverage and quality of add-on planes for start.We have absolutely no evidence that there is even one 3PD, but we have heard from people - who might know if there were - that they have not heard of any. So, call me a pessimist, but I doubt that we'll see any high quality aircraft for a long long time, if ever.I have no doubt that Flight will be visually better than FSX, but we don't know the cost. Is the cost the lack of AI, real-time weather or was FSX such a dog even after SP2 that we can get great FPS and still have all FSX functionality? Then why is this functionality not being beta tested. Will it only be tested by paying customers?You can stay optimistic and I will continue to point out when you don't really have reason to be. I may be wrong, but this is a discussion board. We can't just have it filled with posts on one side of an issue.
You're making a lot of assumptions.First of all, the absence of proof that something exists, is not proof that it doesn't exist.And you don't know all that is being beta tested.And you're assuming that my optimism is just me being optimistic.

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First of all, the absence of proof that something exists, is not proof that it doesn't exist.And you don't know all that is being beta tested.And you're assuming that my optimism is just me being optimistic.
The absence of evidence is not proof of absence, but believing without evidence is called faith.Your last two sentences seem to imply that you know more than the rest of us, from sources we do not have. Perhaps.Just curious that with all the things leaked from the beta, none of this made it out yet.

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