It’s been a long time since the name Microsoft Flight Simulator was a buzzworthy topic in gaming. The free-to-play offering of Microsoft Flight in 2012 was rejected by the fanbase and ultimately failed, with Microsoft stopping development on the title in June of last year. Before that, you need to go back to Microsoft Flight Simulator X in 2006 to find a release for the once-loved sim franchise.
Meanwhile, “simulator” titles have exploded in popularity. Even ignoring the wacky titles of Goat Simulator and Grass Simulator, who have appropriated the simulator term for their madcap offerings, legitimate simulation games seem to have found a new audience. One of the publishers leading the charge is Dovetail Games, who has found success with rail sims — including their most recent title, Train Simulator 2014.
Microsoft was evidently impressed with Train Simulator 2014, because they have chosen Dovetail Games to publish Flight Simulator titles. The publishers of the Train Simulator series have announced that they have signed a licensing deal with Microsoft, and their first action is going to be a relaunch of Microsoft Flight Simulator X on Steam.
The re-release, which will be known as Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition, is scheduled for take-off on the online distribution platform late in 2014. Paul Jackson, CEO of the UK-based Dovetail Games, said that the developer was looking forward to “using our extensive expertise of Steam publishing to successfully bring Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition to a broad new audience on the Steam platform.” He also added that he was “delighted” to be working with Microsoft.
The relaunch of Microsoft Flight Simulator X, however, was just the tip of the iceberg. Dovetail Games also announced that they would be working with Microsoft’s flight technology to develop all-new flight simulation titles, aiming for a new game in 2015. It remains to be seen whether this will be a game in the Flight Simulator franchise, or an entirely new IP based on Microsoft’s tech.
Kevin Perry, Executive Producer at Microsoft, said that Dovetail was “the obvious choice” for Microsoft to work with, citing their “premium quality simulation games” and adding that he was looking forward to “seeing their vision of the new chapter in flight simulations.” He also said Microsoft was impressed with how Dovetail was using Steam, which suggests their success with the distribution platform could have been a major factor in the licensing deal. “They have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to launch simulation projects successfully via online platforms,” said Perry.
Meanwhile, Steve Bainbridge, the COO of Dovetail Games, was quick to open communication with the flight simulation community. “We know that they are a very knowledgeable, passionate and committed group of individuals,” said Bainbridge. “We welcome their feedback and involvement as we start to create the next generation of games in this area.”
Flight simulators were once a large part of the PC gaming world, but have seen their popularity dwindle over the last few years. It remains to be seen just how strong Dovetail’s titles will turn out, but here’s hoping some of that old success can be rekindled.
What do you think of this licensing deal? Do you think it’s a step in the right direction for Microsoft, who has promised support for PC gamers in 2014? Do you think there is still a market for flight simulators, and is Dovetail Games the right developer to try to bring back the genre? Let us know in the comments.