Microsoft has stopped all work on Microsoft Flight, the successor to Microsoft Flight Simulator. No official announcement at the product’s website yet, but various sources, including Kotaku, have posted a statement from the company:
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. For “Microsoft Flight,” we will continue to support the community that has embraced the title and the game will still be available to download for free at http://www.microsoft.com/games/flight/.
Apparently, most of the team that was working on Microsoft Flight has been laid off, so it’s not clear if Microsoft has any plans for its line of flight (and flight simulation) products. For now, the core of Microsoft Flight Simulator X lives on in Prepar3D, developed by Lockheed-Martin.
Update July 28, 2012:
Microsoft has posted the following statement on the Microsoft Flight website:
We know there are a number of questions out there in the community about the discontinuation of development for Microsoft Flight. We wanted to make to be sure to clarify a few things. While we will not be continuing active development, we are committed to keeping Flight available for our community to enjoy. All the content you have paid for is still valid, and the content that is available for sale will continue to be available on http://www.microsoft.com/games/flight/. If any further information becomes available for us to share, we will do so.
Microsoft Flight, the successor to Microsoft Flight Simulator, is in beta. Now more details about the new game (Microsoft dropped simulator from the title) are emerging. You can find a summary from one person who attended the unveiling at Microsoft here.
As I’ve noted elsewhere, the game will be offered as a free download. That initial release includes only a couple of aircraft and the scenery and activities are limited to Hawaii. Users eventually will be able to download additional scenery, aircraft, and activities from Microsoft, with each module coming at a price, as yet unannounced.
According to the account above, however, Microsoft will not publish information about how to create add-ons for Microsoft Flight, and, apparently, it will not allow others to host or distribute additional content for the game. Everything will come from Microsoft.
That latter point is telling, and it ends a decades-long practice that led to a worldwide community of developers and enthusiasts who created add-on aircraft, scenery, and features for the Flight Simulator franchise.
The Microsoft Flight team has announced the beta of the successor to Microsoft Flight Simulator. You must apply via the website; email inquires don’t count.
According to the announcement, the beta test begins in January 2012.
For more information about Microsoft Flight, see the product website.
The Microsoft Flight team released a bit more information about the successor to Microsoft Flight Simulator on 15 November. You can read the update here. It includes details about the hardware you’ll need to show off the snazzy new graphics.
It includes a teaser for “an exciting announcement” in December.
Unfortunately, we still don’t have answers–even hints, really–about what Microsoft Flight (the new product’s title doesn’t include simulator) is. Will it continue to re-create the entire world? Will it include navigation data, ATC, and other features essential to a simulation? What aircraft will be included? Will any add-ons created for Microsoft Flight Simulator work with the new “game”? So far, Microsoft isn’t saying.