New lifeline for Microsoft flight simulator game


Boost on, lights up, instruments set, transponder activated, take off recording and seat belts secured -- Microsoft Flight Simulator X is back and preparing to take off on digital distribution platform Steam.

While Microsoft may not have planned the "X" in the title of its 2006 flight simulator to indicate the length of time it'd take for a true successor to arrive, 10 years is approximately the amount of time it will take. After selling the license for its flight simulator franchise, a Steam version of Flight Simulator X has been in the works for a 2015 release and brand new "game" was said to follow soon after.

Following its vision of delivering the most simulation entertainment in the world, Dovetail, the developer of Train Simulator, purchased the rights to the Microsoft's Flight Simulator series. Paul Jackson, CEO of Dovetail Games, stated he was excited about the opportunity to expand into new areas of simulation.

"We are thrilled to be exploring new flight simulation opportunities using Microsoft's technology, and look forward to using our extensive expertise of Steam publishing to successfully bring Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition to a broad new audience on the Steam platform. This partnership is perfectly timed to support our expansion into new areas of simulation," said Jackson.

After GameSpy shut down its servers around the end of May 2014, Flight Simulator X was one of the many titles to lose online support -- the aging game barely had a pulse at that point and was kept alive by a small core of fans who refused to move to another flight simulator.

While news of Dovetail's acquisition of the Flight Simulator series has been well-received, one facet of the agreement has bittered the sweet announcement. For those hoping for CPU optimization to take full advance of all of those virtual and physical cores, Dovetail said its deal with Microsoft doesn't provide for the improving the game or prettying up its graphics.

Not to be outdone by its top rival, Laminar Research also announced that it had received a "green light" and was preparing to move X-Plane, its highly praised flight simulator, onto Steam. Laminar Research made the announcement in a July 2014 release that passed through Steam's Green Light program, in which the gaming community votes on which games will be published to the platform.

"X-Plane 10 is currently undergoing testing on Steam and will be released for distribution very shortly," stated Laminar Research. "The version of X-Plane 10 on Steam will be the full X-Plane 10 Global Edition that is currently available on DVD. Steam purchasers of the products will have the same access to features and updates as X-Plane 10 DVD customers."

X-Plane and Flight Simulator X both have cult followings of flight enthusiasts and pilots in training. With their Steam releases, they will bring to the mainstream the ongoing debate over which sim is superior, which may or may not be a good thing.

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