For those who are not interested in listening/watching the video, I here provide the full script.
This is a question that has inevitably crossed your mind since Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 was announced in June of 2019. For some people in the community, this question is more than a brief and momentaneous source of doubt, it has become an existential crisis.
In this video, I submit that the answer to this question depends heavily on the current state of your simulator. I argue that for a handful of people, the answer is a definite yes, while for most people, a conclusive no. First, I will get some inevitable presumptions out of the way. Then, I will start by arguing for the Yes side, therefore presenting the category of people who would not benefit from purchasing anymore add-ons for their simulator. I will then propose my arguments for the No side, presenting the type of simmers who would lose at not buying more addons.
Before anything, there are some presumptions that will accompany the entire video and they must be addressed right now. The first and perhaps most obvious presumption is that you are ready to commit financially to your simulator. This means that this video is for people who are on the fence about whether to spend money now or wait until next year for the next simulator. The second presumption is that you will be getting Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 when it comes out. If you’re not planning on getting Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 upon release because you feel totally satisfied with your simulator as it is right now, then obviously the answer is go ahead and keep improving the simulator you are happy to stay with for the foreseeable future. The third presumption is more hypothetical but has a high degree of certainty attached to it. It is that some developers are currently working on developing their products for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, therefore supposing that a decent number of products will be available upon launch of the new iteration of Flight Simulators. This is an important presumption because were we left with the odd A321 and Pilatus developed by Microsoft and the handful of detailed airports, I’m sure there wouldn’t be a debate as to where hardcore simmers would go. Fourthly, I presume that Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 will be widely recognized as a paradigm shift in term of flight simulation and that it will leave any other flight simulator to bite the dust. The final presumption is critical. In this video, I will presume that people listening are hardcore simmers who take the word “simulation” seriously. This presumption entails that we want to extract from our simulator the most realistic flying experience possible. Realism as to visuals, systems, flight dynamics, weather and everything related to flying an aircraft. Nothing less. Thus, this video is not for people who care very little about the looks and realism of their sim.
That being said, here’s who I think should abstain completely from spending another dime on their simulator. The group of people I have in mind are those who are just now getting into the hobby. It is a fact that neither X-Plane nor P3D are satisfactory out of the box for any simmer who’s considering a serious commitment to flight simulation. P3D takes most of the blame, but I’m sure X-Plane users would still admit that a fair bit of spending is required if, again, realism is your number one priority. It appears to me to be a nonsensical decision for anyone with a profile which fits with my previously mentioned presumptions to invest hundreds, even thousands of dollars into a platform which they will quit in a year’s time. Unless you are loaded with cash and can afford an investment which is bound to become redundant very shortly, you should stay clear of any major spending. My advice for those who find themselves in this annoying situation is twofold.
First, if you are new to flight simulation and to flight as a whole, start by learning the basics. Purchase A2A’s Cessna 172 and only core world addons in the like of ORBX Global and ENVTEX to give your sim a well-deserved and relatively inexpensive shine. With these brilliant pieces of software, you will actually take a precious amount of time to prepare yourself for the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. Second, go ahead and watch a ton of YouTube tutorials, indulge in free lessons which can be found on BVARTCC’s website and read up on flight theory, meteorology and so on. You are entering the world of flight simulation and this hobby is truly rewarding when you are doing things accurately.
If you’re not new to flying, then my advice is similar, but slightly tweaked. I would recommend that you purchase the planes that you wish to fly (and know how to) and have some good and relatively inexpensive fun while waiting for the new simulator.
So, that’s my advice to people who are just starting flight simulation. Be aware that this industry is expecting a major paradigm shift in approximately one year. You do not want to invest in the past, but you should definitely invest in the future by gaining invaluable knowledge thanks to which you will subsequently feel much better when you spend your hard-earned money on addons for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.
But what about the main demography of hardcore simmers: those who already are well established in their sims? The existential crisis is understandably hitting this population the hardest. And some don’t cope well at all with it and try to operate their own egoistic catharsis on the community as a whole. These are the people who are lashing out at developers that are still releasing addons, mocking them for what they brand as useless effort. The ones who, through their own dismay and inability to cope with change, feel the need to bully others into not enjoying new addons for their simulators.
Look, why do we spend so much time on flight simulators? What do we want to get out of it? The answer is universal: we are passionate about aviation, about travel and about the sky and we get an unparalleled thrill in being decent desk pilots. The aim of our simulators is to quench this thirst we have. And thus, in order to do so, we have invested over the years a considerable amount of money into this hobby. Thousands of us have spent thousands of dollars or pounds or euros in mods for one program. We’ve done so because we feel that these mods or addons bring us closer to a state of utter and complete satiety.
That being said, it is humane to feel threatened by change, absolutely normal. But this threat should in no way translate into a vicious feeling of irrelevance. You’ve amassed hundreds of hours of flying, dozens or even hundreds of addons and have created, through the spending of your hard-earned money, a world that is, all things considered, second to none and that provides the excitement and enjoyment you’re seeking when your mind is solely focused on what you have now and not on the fact that what you have now might not be the best anymore in a year or so. There’s no good reason to stop using your simulator or stop improving it with addons that you know you would have enjoyed had the new Flight Simulator never been announced. This is my first and most heartfelt reason why you should continue buying addons if that’s what you’ve been doing to fulfill your objective in simulation.
Second, keep in mind that no date was announced for the release of Flight Simulator. We’ve coined the upcoming simulator as Flight Simulator 2020, but that is not the official name. This might be a clear sign that Microsoft is anticipating unexpected delays and that they are not wanting to commit to something even as wide in time as the year 2020. Delaying your own enjoyment for something that still has an unclear release date is something to think about.
Third, we don’t know what business model Microsoft will adopt regarding third party developers. This is an important factor because if they adopt a Dovetail-like strategy and ask for a commission on every add-on sold, this might completely smother the will of developers to commit to the platform. And without third party developers, we can assume that to hardcore simmers, Flight Simulator will be worthless. This is rather improbable given Microsoft’s business savviness, but who knows?
Fourth, there’s a good chance that you won’t find Flight Simulator to be to a satisfying level with regards to the content it has right off the bat. There might be some good lapse of time between release and a state where we can merge to a platform that has enough content to be what us hardcore simmers deem a complete-enough simulator.
Fifth, given that Flight Simulator will also come out on Xbox, there is a slight risk that the intended public is not exactly us, hardcore simmers. This argument seems weak in light of the incessant communication from Microsoft and Asobo studios and their apparent great openness to requests and recommendations by the community. But it is still worth mentioning.
There is another point that is worth mentioning and which is less about simmers, although indirectly it is, but more of concern for developers which you should keep in mind when deciding to completely withdraw your money from the P3D/X-plane market. It is undeniable that developers will still be needed in Flight Simulator 2020. Microsoft are offering what seems to be an incredible base package, yes, but imagine what can be added on top of that sublime base package! Developers have come a long way and are now very proficient at creating products which blend seamlessly with the environment. Whether they are aircraft devs, airport devs or global enhancement devs, we don’t know who we will need at the start of the Flight Simulator 2020 era. My point is the following: by withdrawing your purchase, you are putting a lot of devs in great peril. These are devs whose experience and talent could be of primal importance once Flight Sim 2020 hits the markets. We could in fact be doing ourselves a great disservice by stopping all purchase, for we would be suffocating potential key actors of the FS 2020 epoch.
For all these reasons, I think that you should not withdraw your purchasing power from the p3d and x-plane markets.
The chance is that most people who will listen to this video will be in the second group of people. I’m of course part of that second group of simmers who have amassed a great deal of addons which provide for an extremely realistic experience. And, believe it or not, I’m extremely excited for the new addons such as the Aerosoft CRJ, the A330, new ORBX airports and much more. I’m not saying that I have the money to buy all of that, of course not, but I’m saying that I will not let the fact that another simulator which will presumably change the whole game and which will be released in a year or more prevent me from having good fun for a year. A year is a long time and a lot can happen. Life is simply too short to live in the future. I will keep enjoying my simulator as if it’s the only one relevant for now and I will abandon it when I feel like something else has come which will be better suited to quench my thirst for realism.
Until then, the prospect of better visuals and performance will not stop me from enjoying my sim and if part of my enjoyment is treating myself to an addon from time to time, you bet that I will continue doing so. And I hope you will too.