Microsoft Flight will be free-to-play, set for spring takeoff

By on January 5, 2012, 1:00 PM

One of the oldest franchises in PC gaming is making a comeback this spring as Microsoft gears up to release its latest flight sim title. Now simply called Microsoft Flight, the game adopts a free-to-play model and is designed to be accessible to everyone, making it much more friendly to casual players who can undertake in various missions and challenges, search for hidden "aerocaches" or just relax and cruise.

Microsoft Flight will give players the freedom to fly the skies over the beautiful island of a Hawaii in a handful of aircrafts. Gamers who sign up using their Games for Windows LIVE account will have access to achievements and receive additional free content, from extra missions to new planes, including a Boeing Stearman. Of course, additional content such as new aircraft and regions will also be available for purchase.

The franchise was axed in 2009 along developer Aces Game Studio as Microsoft moved ahead with plans to cut its workforce by up to 5,000 jobs, only to be revived a year later. Despite dropping the "Simulator" label the game will supposedly still allow more experienced players to tailor the flight controls to match their skill level. The idea is to make the game easy for beginners while still challenging for flight simulator veterans.

Previous releases up to Flight Simulator X in 2006, while popular, were very much niche products regularly supported by third party mods and add-ons. Microsoft is hoping this new approach will reach a broader audience without alienating flight enthusiasts who cherished the series' realism and customizability.

Microsoft is currently accepting applicants for the closed beta phase. You can add your name to the waiting list if you'd like to give it a go or head to to find out more about the game.

User Comments: 7

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Guest said:

Thats cool, I've got an expensive joystick I bought several years ago when I thought I was going to get into Flight Sims. Used it about a week and quit. Been meaning to get back in but couldn't justify buying Flight Sim X if I was just going to quit playing again.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

Can't wait to try this out! Hopefully it will be good. Ever since my lung collapsed I haven't been able to fly small planes. Hopefully this will be enough to satisfy my itch to hop in a plane again....

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Time to break out the old joystick and learn how to not crash again!

Butch said:

If they keep the realism intact for people that want it this may not be bad. But I think it will be dumbed down for the masses and no longer a "simulator". The best part of flight sims (for me) is the learning. Navigating from charts, programming the flight computers, pre-flight checks etc was a great learning experience for me (and helped get my pilot license).Too bad. But there is always X-plane and whatever comes next from the Eagle Dynamics folks for us "flight sim enthusiasts"...

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

I don't like the pay model, and I hope the "sim" is all there. I'd hate for it to be like a hawk or wii game, that's not what flight sim is all about. So much for being able to fly around, i guess i'll have to wait a year for them to "release" NYS as downloadable and for 1.99... pathetic. Do I hit an invisible wall if I don't own the state to?

Guest said:

I've followed the flight some since I bought 2000, but by no mean I was hard core into it.

The biggest barrier to the flight sim I think has been getting people together, the multiplayer support just was never that impressive and as I understand it until FSX wasn't native to the program. I could be wrong.

Another hold up has been that while there's thousands of aircraft and even more scenery mods made by people. The quality can often leave a lot to be desired. A proper pay model has a chance to improve all this. A store and content manager repository for them it could really add value. Hopefully the barrier to entry won't be too high and devs can publish their own stuff like and app store this could really be awesome.

The video does look like they've just take FSX and gutted / polished it up so it should be very familiar to current users. Hell the mods could even still work.

You will see user's making their own airshows and contest if MS play this right. They won't play it right obviously. But the potential is there.

Taharial said:

For some reason, the first thing that popped into my mind was "Oh boy! A free terrorist training program!" I just feel like a bad person.

Seriously I think it's great they are releasing this for free. I've never used a flight joystick before but after seeing how this flies (pun intended) after release, I may have to consider it. I've been into so many serious "hardcore" games lately that it'd be nice to sit back and relax while I crash into barns and trees.

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