Microsoft Flight Simulator goes Freemium – Phoenix takes Flight in the Spring of 2012

From my previous article Minecraft Apple iPhone and iPad making brick building Games Social, you can see how fan support, especially from rabid, half-crazed fans who apparently have Acme Acres of free time on their hands, can propel a Gaming Cinderella to the darling of the Social Gaming elites. Interesting, as Minecraft is a Premium subscription Game.

Support of another type too, this time of the increasingly popular Freemium Gaming model, can also propel games to stratospheric heights of super stardom, most notable example being Angry Birds. After all, aside from giving away money (Gold perhaps?) what else can beat Free?

With some hard numbers from analyst Flurry to back up the increasing popularity of the Freemium gaming model, especially among Game Developers and Publishers as noted in the article Smartphones and Apps -Freemium Games are No. 1, it should thus come as no surprise that the Gaming Industry would start jumping on the Freemium Bandwagon in droves. Notable examples abound:

  • The Lord of the Rings Online which went Freemium in 2010, tripling publisher/developer Turbine’s revenue
  • Team Fortress 2, which went Freemium last June 2010 and has seen added financial benefits in addition to increased gameplay
  • World of Warcraft from Developer Blizzard now has a free-to-play option, effectively an adoption of Freemium

Game Developers and Publishers EA (Electronics Arts) in on it like Peanut Butter on bread as reported in my article EA’s Tetris on a US$30 yearly subscription: VIP for Casual & Smartphone Gaming Addicts. Might I add I am a VERY BIG Tetris addict?

So it comes as no surprise that Microsoft has re-branded the popular franchise Microsoft Flight Simulator as Microsoft Flight using the now hugely popular Freemium model, right? Even more interesting, is that the Microsoft Flight Simulator Press Release had made the announcement for Beta Testers to hop on board and test out the tires on the new Microsoft Flight back in early December 2011AD!

This despite Microsoft historically being notorious for overcharging on its software and making it very expensive to purchase or fully utilize, especially after you have lost your Product Key as noted in my article How to Legally Activate installed Microsoft Products – Office 2010’s in the Lost and Found.

For those who came late, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a PC Game designed by Microsoft Studios, their in-house Developer that had originally debut Microsoft Flight Simulator in 1982 (before my time) and was a niche market among avid PC gamers who could afford the then expensive joystick and foot-pedal controllers that made the Game a niche favourite among simulator fanatics.

An early forerunner of what we now call MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) it was later revamped as Microsoft Flight Simulator X in October 2006AD but went into hibernation ever since, with Microsoft being tight lipped about sales numbers.

Microsoft Flight Simulator’s photo-realistically and controller wise simulates the joy of flying for the avid flight enthusiast or would-be pilot so much so that even the US Military bases began using the software to teach pilots for basic pre-flight training for its pilots!

Fast Forward to the Spring of 2012AD, folks, specifically CES (Computer Electronics Show) on January 10th -13th 2012AD, with the newly minted and re-cast game Microsoft Flight! The Gaming Rig requirements are pretty basic for such a high end simulator gone Freemium and are quite modest (for a Gamer… that is!):

  • 2 to 3.3 GHz Dual Core processor or better
  • 256 MB to 1GB MB graphics card
  • 2 to 6 GB of RAM.

With the rebranding under Freemium, the closest Microsoft will ever get to making any of its products Freeware or even Open Source (nope, Silverlight does not count……that’s a plugin!!) the download of Microsoft Flight gives you the following:

  • One plane, the 2-seater Carbon Fiber amphibious ICON A5 to fly around, designed by modeled by the same team that designed Virgin’s Galactic SpaceShipTwo
  • Login to the Game with your Games for Windows Live account and you get the classic Boeing Stearman biplane trainer and more challenging missions
  • Daily challenges and a Treasure Hunting Game in the sky that reminds me of StarFox, a nod to casual games worldwide!

Here are a few screenshots to titillate your senses and make you want to soar like a bird before you take the plunge to download the Game!

Definitely, going Freemium is the best decision that Microsoft could have made to revive this old franchise. A few suggestions to Microsoft Studios as to what goodies would make Microsoft Flight an above ground hit are in order, though:

  • Making it a Social Gaming Experience (flying over Google Map based terrains of the world to meet friends?) like Minecraft as per the article Minecraft Apple iPhone and iPad making brick building Games Social
  • Facebook integration both in terms of posting screenshots and video uploads for the Game
  • Additional planes you can compete with other online for online “bragging rights” in the skies
  • Developer integration to allow Developers to build their own environments and planes
  • Apps for Apple iPhone, Windows 7 smartphones and Android iPhones, with add-ons made by Developers under license from Microsoft
  • Microsoft linking with the RC Plane Enthusiast and thus get software development going to make versions of Microsoft Flight for RC Planes!

Definately another item online worth spending your newly minted Scotia VISA Debit Card on as per my article ScotiaBank’s VISA Debit Card – Jamaica’s Online E-Commerce Renaissance, make this a must-have Game for both Casual and Hardcore Gamers here in Jamaica (fingers crossed)!

Folks, Microsoft Flight is a Phoenix that takes Flight from the Ashes in the spring of 2012AD. With such stunning visuals, I am sure many cannot wait for Microsoft to announce its release in the Spring (First Quarter) of 2012AD as promised, preferably long before London Olympics 2012AD on July 27th 2012AD, so I can get some Game time in!

Interested to get up into the skies and see if your Gaming Rig is up to snuff? Then keep watching the Geezam blog for a follow-up article where we will do a review on Microsoft Flight and post a link to downloading the Game, which is coming out in the Spring of 2012!

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.