I have been a Mac user for years, but have continued to play Microsoft Flight Simulator on my old PC from time to time. Flight Simulator was one of the first titles that I invested in when I first got a PC in 1997, and grew to enjoy being an armchair pilot.
Now, I’m reading reports as well as an official confirmation that Microsoft’s Aces studio, the development team responsible for Flight Simulator as well as global environmental simulations based on that engine, has been completely axed as a result of Microsoft’s recent layoffs. All that remains are six staff members to archive the code and maintain contractual obligations. These efforts are anticipated to last about six months. This means that Train Simulator 2 will likely never see the light of day and, more importantly, the future of the MS Flight Simulator franchise itself has been thrown into doubt. This is very surprising to me, since Flight Simulator has been published by Microsoft since 1982.
However, if there is any good to come out of it is the opportunity for smaller developers to make new, (hopefully) Mac compatible cross platform flight simulators to pick up the baton. Several civilian and commercial flight simulators have cropped up over the years, the Fly! and Flight Unlimited series, but none was able to make significant market penetration into Microsoft’s 500-pound-gorilla franchise. The only exception to this has been X-Plane, which has continued to see constant improvement over the years, but lacks the marketing polish and training/documentation for real mass market adoption. Let’s hope that the dedicated community surrounding civilian and commercial flight simulators pull together to carry on a tradition.