Microsoft Flight, Project Columbia cancelled following layoffs

By on July 26, 2012, 4:30 PM

Microsoft has cancelled two projects including its recently launched flight simulator, following layoffs at its Vancouver studio. Released in February, Microsoft Flight is a free-to-play adaptation of the company's popular Flight Simulator franchise, which was axed in 2009 with the closing of ACES Studios.

While previous MSFS entries focused on delivering a hardcore sim experience, Microsoft Flight tried making the genre more palatable to casual players. The game offers a few planes and Hawaiian islands to explore, while new aircraft, locales and in-game goals are available as downloadable content.

MS Flight and its DLC will continue to be available as is, but nothing new will be created. Assuming it hasn't made (and won't make) the company much money, it seems like an opportunity to score points with PC gamers by opening the software to community-made content, but we wouldn't count on it.

Project Columbia has also been cut. First announced last year, the initiative aimed to let kids interact with TV shows using the Kinect, with partnerships including Sesame Street and National Geographic.

Microsoft didn't say how many people are affected, but sources report that all 35 employees at its location on 840 Cambie Street in Vancouver have been laid off. The company said its decision boils down to "portfolio management."

"Microsoft Studios is always evaluating its portfolio of products to determine what is best for gamers, families and the company, and this decision was the result of the natural ebb and flow of our portfolio management. Many factors were considered in the difficult decision to stop development on "Microsoft Flight" and "Project Columbia," but we feel it will help us better align with our long-term goals and development plans."

Interestingly, last week, Capcom also laid off 20 workers in Vancouver and Rockstar recently closed its Vancouver studio, though it offered employees positions at other locations, including its Toronto office.

User Comments: 6

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Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

One of the best parts of previous flight simulators was the ability for users to create their own content. The fact that they made it not possible to do so in the most recent flight simulator prevented me from buying it. Hopefully it's possible for them to open it up to user created content. If so, maybe I'll take another stab at it.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I wouldn't mind having a flight training program in the form of an educational game. Something that tells what all the little buttons and gadgets are for and doesn't cost a fortune.

If only games such as this was used for pre-enrollment purposes. There are many professions that could be learned (at least the basics of the profession) through gaming, if nothing more than to satisfy ones curiosity. Sure there are Youtube videos that can be watched but that gives nothing to interact with. There is no challenge in watching video clips.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

MSFX made money because it didn't do the stupid F2P model with only 1 island, everything dlc, casual garbage. If MS honestly wants to be make money all they have to do is make a real microsoft flight simulator.

avoidz avoidz said:

Not really surprised about Flight. Microsoft blew it by making it DLC only and not moddable by users.

Guest said:

I tried Flight and it was too casual, it's fun for maybe the first 30 minutes then there is not much more too it, nothing to keep your interests. A number of years ago, I had a helicopter simulator that had a couple of modes; Auto in which the computer controled the hard stuff and you just controlled the basics (direction, elevation) and Full in which you had to control everything. It seemed to be good for both the casual and hard core person. Even the SIM Helicopter game I had years ago was far better, casual controls but a fun, fun game.

Guest said:

As an owner of half of all MS Flight Simulator games ever made, I was disappointed when Flight was detailed. Then, when I found out the pricing for content I got angry. Hours of fun (and frustration) where had enjoying very talented people's creations in the earlier games and to have modding removed from the equation......stupid idea. Casual players are NOT going to spend 10 some odd dollars on 1 aircraft. Bring back the real deal with updated/more thorough flight instruction and some type of leveling reward system and people will support them.

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