Dillon

Looks like DT needs to change it's policy on 3rd party developers

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With the official recent announcement of a few major developers to abandon FSX in favor of the better 64bit platform by Lockheed,  DT is in serious need of a different stance on 3rd party work in FSW.  Pushing everyone to Steam in order to sell/install their products in FSW is a failed concept out the gate and will relegate FSW to irrelevancy. I hope their watching the wave that's happening and make themselves competitive.  With serious competition I'd hate to see the FSW project die for lack of support.  This community drives the base product and just like Microsoft couldn't understand (a.k.a. FLIGHT), alienating the driving force behind a simulation in any way is bad for the future of said platform.  If FSW was the only game in town they could dictate standards but seeing as their not people will go for the more common since option that works more in the way we've been doing business for years.  If major developers are walking away from your product you need a change in thinking and fast... 

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Dillon, listen to the developers and not the fanciful rumors.

Dovetail, quote:

"We do not force 3rd party developers to sell anywhere, we do encourage them to sell on numerous store channels. 
 ........

.........
That said, there are pros and cons in any business transaction and we're more than open to tailoring our approach to meet the need of any 3rd party developers.
"

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How many times does it have to be said? Dovetail are most definitely not pushing developers into selling through Steam, they are offering it as an additional outlet to sell through. DTG have said repeatedly that no product sold through Steam for FSW (or for their Steam incarnation of FSX for that matter) is, or will be, forced into being limited to that sales outlet, so your contention is completely incorrect. One look at the products on sale through Steam as DLC for FSX will confirm that; you've got Virtavia, Just Flight, HiFi, REX etc all selling their products through Steam as an additional outlet. You can buy all those products directly from the developer's websites and through numerous online stores too, so it is simply false to claim anything otherwise. You might just as well claim that FS Pilot Shop are forcing them to sell through their shop simply because the products are available on that store too.

The fact that many developers have chosen to make their products available through Steam for FSX, is because they realise the potential of that place as another revenue stream, if that were not so, they would not be doing it. Steam offers them the chance to have their products advertised directly on the opening splash screen of the simulation and be directly accessible through the sim's GUI. Yes there is a cost to doing this, but this is massively offset by the fact that there are no advertising costs at all to expose one's products to literally millions of registered Steam users. Not only this, Steam offers numerous additional sales tools to track buying trends, geographical sales info etc. Do you really imagine marketing departments are not going to be interested in that kind of facility as an additional sales outlet? Clearly the evidence shows that they are indeed interested in it.

Moreover, the developers which announced they were moving to LM's P3D did so because they were interested in the possibilities of a 64 Bit platform, not because they were allying themselves to LM's P3D alone. FSW is a 64 Bit platform too and is, like P3D, based upon MS ESP, so the development work, whilst not identical for both sims, is not vastly different, so it should be obvious to anyone that when making a product for one 64 Bit platform, it won't require that much effort to make it work for the two and have more places to sell. The fact that some developers have said 'we are going to P3D' is because that is a released product. When FSW is in that condition and there is an SDK, they will start developing for it too (in fact some already are doing just this as partners with DTG).

And it is incorrect to make the assumption that because a few scenery developers announced that they have made a decision to only develop for a 64 Bit simulation that 'major developers are walking away from FSX'. Only some developers have announced this (four or five by my reckoning, which hardly constitutes an exodus), vastly more developers are not doing anything of the kind, nor will they do so for a very long time, hell, we're still seeing announcements that some are gonna stop supporting FS9 lol.

In fact, many major developers are quite evidently supporting both Dovetail and Lockheed Martin's sims, for example, you can find Carenado aircraft in both FSW and P3D as default aeroplanes, you can find Just Flight products on sale via Steam for Dovetail's FSX and as default aeroplanes in P3D, A2A's Accufeel is built into FSW with A2A also developing for P3D and FSX, and there are many more examples of this which I could mention.

No developer is going to announce that they are 'moving to FSW' until it is released and they know exactly how to go about that courtesy of a finalised platform and a suitable SDK. But when that becomes the case, I can guarantee you that you'll see tons of developers going for it, because if they ignore a potential 125 million registered Steam users as a possible market, they'd need their heads examing.

And this is especially true when a company like DTG is driving that sales effort, because it is a company which built its foundations on making a success out of creating a platform and then going for it in a big way with additional content sales, as evidenced by the fact that around a million people bought their train sim and then started buying DLC for it. Just imagine you made a ten quid add-on utility for that train sim and sold it on Steam to half those users, then Steam/DTG took a 25 percent cut of that RRP. How much would you get? Yup, 375,000 quid.

Still think developers won't be interested in that kind of cash? If they've got any sense whatsoever, they'll be all over it like a cheap suit, trust me.

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Well said Chock and I vote for that piece to be a sticky at the top of this forum!

Thanks also to Dillon for asking the question, I see the similar question you asked on the P3D forum was ridiculed, locked and then removed, a totally over-the-top response in my opinion.

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2 hours ago, Chock said:

How many times...

+1

Well said chock!  That announcement referred to in the OP didn't even mention FSW, only they weren't going to continue development of their products into any 32bit sims - ahemmmm....even P3Dv3 and prior releases fall into that category.

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Of course it's completely up to an individual developer what they want to make stuff for, and if anyone has said they will drop making stuff for this or that sim, then I'm sure they have their reasons. But where this particular subject is concerned, it was less to do with the particular platform and its sales model and more to do with the possibilities which open up for sceneries and aeroplanes when they have far less chance of going out of memory, as they would on a 32 Bit platform.

One thing such developers need to be very aware of however, is the fact that a 64 Bit application can assign more virtual address space, so it won't crash, does not miraculously make RAM, video cards or CPUs suddenly faster or more able to process stuff than they previously were, nor does it instantly put great wads of cash into flight simmer's bank accounts either, to enable them to buy new faster hardware or buy airport sceneries they may already possess for another sim platform.

So whilst one can add lots of shiny whistles and bells to an add-on, one has to be careful not to allow 64 Bits to be enough rope to hang oneself with. Even before the latest collection of 64 Bit sims came along, we were seeing posts on Avsim and other places complaining not exclusively about OOM issues, but also about FPS issues, and what FPS you are getting has got nothing to do with the bit depth of the sim, it's a hardware issue. There are lots of flight simmers out there who are not made of money, and many of those will stay with what they have and what they can run. So whilst they may not buy a thousand quid GPU or CPU or a new motherboard etc, they may well spend 20 quid or so on the odd bit of new scenery; any developer who forgets that may very well be shooting themselves up the arse in terms of potential buyers

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4 hours ago, Chock said:

Still think developers won't be interested in that kind of cash? If they've got any sense whatsoever, they'll be all over it like a cheap suit, trust me.

Great post Chock.  I have to agree with you on every point.  Let's see how it all goes. 

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3 hours ago, A32xx said:

Thanks also to Dillon for asking the question, I see the similar question you asked on the P3D forum was ridiculed, locked and then removed, a totally over-the-top response in my opinion.

I hate when people take a part of what your asking the hijack the thread to a point it get's locked.  They should have gave it more time or at least let me clarify myself before jumping the gun.  The good thing is after a little research here I found P3D is being developed 5 miles from my house here in Orlando.  If an opportunity comes up work with these guys as a tester or whatever I'm jumping on it.  Now that NASA is in full swing again along with all the other cool aviation events going on down here (Lakeland, Flight Aware, Flying Magazine, Emery Riddle, etc.), P3D is in a prime location to thrive.  I moved here two years ago at the right time.  Avsim should have a convention down here.

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15 minutes ago, Dillon said:

Let's see how it all goes. 

Yup, time will tell. Personally, I hope all the newly released sims and the ones in early access do well, but some of that will be down to the buyers.

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On 7/5/2017 at 9:22 AM, Dillon said:

Pushing everyone to Steam in order to sell/install their products in FSW is a failed concept out the gate and will relegate FSW to irrelevancy.

Let's just assume it were true that addons were Steam-only. FSW wouldn't become irrelevant. A lot has changed since Flight. Steam is the platform for entertainment software (and none of these products would survive at their current prices with no entertainment users). Steam has succeeded by reaching out to new users. It's why this is considered a PC gaming renaissance.

You don't see it as much on these forums (since most new buyers tend not to know about them), but you can see from recent sales that new customers are still buying FSX! It's cheap and they give it a try. Some of those will stick with it. Steam works and so do its sales. Even a mention on the homepage can get tons of new eyes on a product. Most new customers don't want to deal with third-party installers or third-party stores. 

So veterans may hold their nose at FSW now, but if it improves over time and if it has some advantages over other products, you'd see them get on board with Steam. After all, these are people who spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on flight sim software. But I'd argue they could be ignored and Steam-only would still be successful. Again, there are huge untapped markets. The community takes itself too seriously.

And of course, as others have stated, addons are not going to be Steam-only per DoveTail.

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My understanding is this and please correct me if I'm wrong...maybe its changed.

The limitation is not whether an add-on can be sold on the developer's website.  i thought it must also be made available on Steam.  The restriction is that the price of the product must match the price on Steam.  So if a developer is making x dollars on a product, they must now charge x+Steam's share to make the same net profit.  Where is the advantage for the developer here?  

Again, if this is no longer the case (or never was in the first place), I stand corrected.  :biggrin:

Ilya

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45 minutes ago, ieydis said:

My understanding is this and please correct me if I'm wrong...maybe its changed.

The limitation is not whether an add-on can be sold on the developer's website.  i thought it must also be made available on Steam.  The restriction is that the price of the product must match the price on Steam.  So if a developer is making x dollars on a product, they must now charge x+Steam's share to make the same net profit.  Where is the advantage for the developer here? 

The advantage is in having another sales outlet which you would not otherwise have, and the fact that your add-on becomes widely publicised with no effort on your part. There is no need, nor would it be advisable to charge the same price you charged through other sources plus the cost of the Steam/DTG tariff on top in order to try to equal the same profits of other sales outlets, because you'd simply end up with an overpriced product in a different market. The benefit of accepting the additional cost of selling through Steam lies in additional sales which you might otherwise not have had, the exposure to a massive market and the advertising you gain.

Lots of people have made observations on the notion of selling things via Steam by simply highlighting this - on the face of it - fiscal down side of doing so, but ignoring the many more up sides of it. Yes it is true that you will receive less of the total RRP, that is a down side, but it is also true that you will get your product exposed to potentially up to 125 million buyers (that's how many active Steam accounts there are), and at any one time, potentially up to 9 million users (that's how many active Steam users there are on average at any one time), you will not have to advertise it and pay the costs of that, and you will be able to access a vast array of additional marketing and sales information which is provided to vendors on Steam which can help them to tailor future product development. You also of course have a system which offers easy financial management. This means even a small vendor can compete with the biggest vendors out there in terms of exposure, and unlike when a product is launched amongst much fanfare and posts on sim forums, a product on Steam remains visible for long after the initial fanfare of a launch by other means has long faded.

I don't care how successful Just Flight, PMDG, Aerosoft, FSL etc's web stores are, there is no way on earth that they are receiving traffic numbering 125 million individual users visits and 9 million individual users visits every day. But if your product is on Steam's store, then it absolutely is getting exposed to those traffic levels. More to the point, if you fire up the Steam version of FSX right now, you will first see the FSX Steam edition load screen, and then you will see an animated GIF load screen which displays various product adverts, today it is showing Just Flight's McDonnell Douglas DC-10 add on and has a clickable link which takes you directly to the DLC page of Steam. If you fire up FSW, you might notice up at the top of the GUI that there is an (as yet non functioning because it is still in early access) shopping basket icon menu item which will take you to a Steam DLC purchasing page right from within the simulator's GUI. This means that any vendor selling through Steam for either FSX or FSW has a direct link to their products from within the sim, i.e. a hot link to potential buyers who are at that time using those sims.

The fact that numerous big name vendors have chosen to also sell their products through Steam for FSX at the same price as they are available elsewhere should make it more than apparent that they all see the benefit of doing so far outweighing any poorly thought out arguments that it only presents a down side.

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Alan,

Your argument has merit for a game like COD with a potential audience in the millions.  I don't think it holds water for a niche PMDG-level product.  The audience here is tiny (in comparison) and I would hate to pay any more for that product just because its now available on Steam.  Same holds true for FSL, TFDi, etc.  Its just a different audience.  Since I'm also an audio gearhead, I can compare a scenario where a high-end product like Naim wouldn't get significantly more sales because its now available at the local Walmart.  Just because there is more exposure does not equal a proportional sales increase.

Anyway, my 2 cents.  

Ilya

  

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1 hour ago, ieydis said:

.... and I would hate to pay any more for that product just because its now available on Steam.  

Is it more expensive on Steam?

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8 minutes ago, torium said:

Is it more expensive on Steam?

Steam incurs additional overhead - a portion of an addon's purchase price goes to Steam, a portion would go to Dovetail, and the rest to the developer. If a developer wished to maintain their revenue, they would need to increase their selling price to make up for that overhead. (*Steam would argue that this shortfall would be made up for in volume, but as Ilya asks, would a niche category like flight simulation actually benefit from a Steam bump?)

This debate should be focused on the SDK before anything else. There are probably many developers quite interested in what FSW will become and want to get started with it, but they're probably stymied by the lack of the all-important Software Development Kit needed to make things happen in the FSW environment.

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Steam also do seasonal sales on DLC products some developers however never discount there product and in there words never will.

Ray Fry. 

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Its not just flight simulation being a niche product, something like PMDG is a niche within a niche.  A flight sim by its own can maybe bring in some decent sales for the "lets fly and crash into stuff" crowd.  But a PMDG-level sim?  Forget about it.

Ilya

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Meh...."if you build it (and release an SDK), they will come".  I'm not concerned

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On 7/7/2017 at 11:03 PM, greggerm said:

Steam incurs additional overhead - a portion of an addon's purchase price goes to Steam, a portion would go to Dovetail, and the rest to the developer. If a developer wished to maintain their revenue, they would need to increase their selling price to make up for that overhead. (*Steam would argue that this shortfall would be made up for in volume, but as Ilya asks, would a niche category like flight simulation actually benefit from a Steam bump?)

Surely any sales (within reason) that came from Steam that wouldn't have come from the developers own online outlet would be worth having. To use the €10 software utility example, if the developer's sales via the normal outlet have met his development costs, then any sales via Steam are pure profit, and even Steam and Dovetail wetting their beaks would be more of a commission than a cost.

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On 7/5/2017 at 9:58 PM, Chock said:

How many times does it have to be said? Dovetail are most definitely not pushing developers into selling through Steam, they are offering it as an additional outlet to sell through. DTG have said repeatedly that no product sold through Steam for FSW (or for their Steam incarnation of FSX for that matter) is, or will be, forced into being limited to that sales outlet, so your contention is completely incorrect. One look at the products on sale through Steam as DLC for FSX will confirm that; you've got Virtavia, Just Flight, HiFi, REX etc all selling their products through Steam as an additional outlet. You can buy all those products directly from the developer's websites and through numerous online stores too, so it is simply false to claim anything otherwise. You might just as well claim that FS Pilot Shop are forcing them to sell through their shop simply because the products are available on that store too.

The fact that many developers have chosen to make their products available through Steam for FSX, is because they realise the potential of that place as another revenue stream, if that were not so, they would not be doing it. Steam offers them the chance to have their products advertised directly on the opening splash screen of the simulation and be directly accessible through the sim's GUI. Yes there is a cost to doing this, but this is massively offset by the fact that there are no advertising costs at all to expose one's products to literally millions of registered Steam users. Not only this, Steam offers numerous additional sales tools to track buying trends, geographical sales info etc. Do you really imagine marketing departments are not going to be interested in that kind of facility as an additional sales outlet? Clearly the evidence shows that they are indeed interested in it.

Moreover, the developers which announced they were moving to LM's P3D did so because they were interested in the possibilities of a 64 Bit platform, not because they were allying themselves to LM's P3D alone. FSW is a 64 Bit platform too and is, like P3D, based upon MS ESP, so the development work, whilst not identical for both sims, is not vastly different, so it should be obvious to anyone that when making a product for one 64 Bit platform, it won't require that much effort to make it work for the two and have more places to sell. The fact that some developers have said 'we are going to P3D' is because that is a released product. When FSW is in that condition and there is an SDK, they will start developing for it too (in fact some already are doing just this as partners with DTG).

And it is incorrect to make the assumption that because a few scenery developers announced that they have made a decision to only develop for a 64 Bit simulation that 'major developers are walking away from FSX'. Only some developers have announced this (four or five by my reckoning, which hardly constitutes an exodus), vastly more developers are not doing anything of the kind, nor will they do so for a very long time, hell, we're still seeing announcements that some are gonna stop supporting FS9 lol.

In fact, many major developers are quite evidently supporting both Dovetail and Lockheed Martin's sims, for example, you can find Carenado aircraft in both FSW and P3D as default aeroplanes, you can find Just Flight products on sale via Steam for Dovetail's FSX and as default aeroplanes in P3D, A2A's Accufeel is built into FSW with A2A also developing for P3D and FSX, and there are many more examples of this which I could mention.

No developer is going to announce that they are 'moving to FSW' until it is released and they know exactly how to go about that courtesy of a finalised platform and a suitable SDK. But when that becomes the case, I can guarantee you that you'll see tons of developers going for it, because if they ignore a potential 125 million registered Steam users as a possible market, they'd need their heads examing.

And this is especially true when a company like DTG is driving that sales effort, because it is a company which built its foundations on making a success out of creating a platform and then going for it in a big way with additional content sales, as evidenced by the fact that around a million people bought their train sim and then started buying DLC for it. Just imagine you made a ten quid add-on utility for that train sim and sold it on Steam to half those users, then Steam/DTG took a 25 percent cut of that RRP. How much would you get? Yup, 375,000 quid.

Still think developers won't be interested in that kind of cash? If they've got any sense whatsoever, they'll be all over it like a cheap suit, trust me.

"And it is incorrect to make the assumption that because a few scenery developers announced that they have made a decision to only develop for a 64 Bit simulation that 'major developers are walking away from FSX'. Only some developers have announced this (four or five by my reckoning, which hardly constitutes an exodus), vastly more developers are not doing anything of the kind, nor will they do so for a very long time, hell, we're still seeing announcements that some are gonna stop supporting FS9 lol."

And you can take it from the guru himself JV from ORBX stating just a few days ago that ORBX have no intention of dropping FSX.

of course FSDT can say what they like but if the masses dont follow they will do a very quick back flip on the matter

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35 minutes ago, Holdit said:

Surely any sales (within reason) that came from Steam that wouldn't have come from the developers own online outlet would be worth having.

True - but what if a sizable percentage of a dev's customers shift their purchasing from developer-direct to Steam? Assuming the product and the price are both the same, the developer will be losing revenue to the Steam/DTG overhead. The developer would need to hope that the Steam channel could generate enough additional customers to make up for that difference, and in a niche market, it could be a gamble. 

This is likely one of the reasons why Orbx offered "lite" versions of certain products on Steam for FSX:SE, but only offers their full package airports developer-direct. They're taking the calculated risk that certain Steam users who don't care about ObjectFlow and other features will be satisfied with a basic airport version, while their core customers will hold out for the full version which is only available from the developer. This gives them "extra" income from the Steam audience, while retaining their revenue from those with more discerning tastes.

The Steam overhead may also contribute to the fact that the FSX:SE 3rd party market on Steam seems to be dominated by older addons. Many of these addons have already had their day in the sun with traditional sales, and anything on Steam would truly be extra revenue (icing on the cake).

There's a lot at play. Steam invites an interesting discussion, but I still contend that DTG's FlightSimWorld needs to get its SDK out to the developers as quickly as possible. It just feels a bit claustrophobic to use a sim with no current addon market...

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1 hour ago, greggerm said:

I still contend that DTG's FlightSimWorld needs to get its SDK out to the developers as quickly as possible.

I agree, but not before it's finalised. The most frustrating thing I found about X-Plane is that freeware planes made for earlier versions won't work properly in the latest version, because the SDK changes with each version. Nightmare.

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5 minutes ago, A32xx said:

I agree, but not before it's finalised. The most frustrating thing I found about X-Plane is that freeware planes made for earlier versions won't work in the latest version, because the SDK changes with each version. Nightmare.

Nightmare for the developers, but good for the end-users, when those changes result in more advanced flight and engine models with each major version going forward.

You can't have it both ways. You either get a static sim that never advances and is therefore a perfect platform for developers (FSX), or one that does (X-Plane) and causes a headache for developers and sometimes users. Like the current XP11 upgrade cycle with Carenado, which basically means re-buying all your planes for v11. Personally, I'll take continuing progress, even if it means a little more expense, and waiting a while for the plane models I want to fly. 

It's too early to tell which way FSW is going -- whether it's planned as a static platform that's great for developers, or the "shifting sands" approach of X-Plane. Come back in a few years and we'll know. :happy:

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44 minutes ago, Paraffin said:

You can't have it both ways.

With MSFS you could. FSX was the 10th and last version of MSFS, and unusually different to previous versions, which were usually backwards-compatible to the last one or two versions. Evolution is better than Revolution as they say, and making haste slowly is very good for business. The MSFS franchise ran for 20-odd years by making gradual additions and improvements every two or three years, rather than a drastic rebuild every 18 months.

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