Will it work?
I have been monitoring an interesting discussion thread at the Flight Simulator Network and the discussion led to add-on capabilities of MS Flight versus previous versions. It is my understanding that there will not be any backward compatibility for add-on content for MS Flight. Therefore, 3rd party developers (such as myself) will have to redesign content from the ground up. Those of us who recall the transition from FS 2004 to FSX know the challenge this presents. The increased complexity brought about using fancy new material techniques nearly tripled the development cycle time of FSX native creations. The pain involved with getting things going in MS Flight remains a mystery.
How do I get it?
The discussion then led in the direction of how add-ons are going to be obtained. Now that Microsoft has embraced the Games For Windows Marketplace concept of software distribution, I strongly suspect that this will be the only portal in which 3rd party applications will be obtained for use with MS Flight.
Do you realize that Apple’s App Store aims to sell nearly $2 Billion worth of apps in 2011? MS has certainly caught on to the appeal of earnings from the “app store” approach.
What about the developers?
A central marketplace means A LOT more exposure to the end-users of MS Flight. I suspect that over 70% of MS FSX users today do not realize that there are add-ons readily available for it. If it were not for word-of-mouth and niche communities of flight sim enthusiasts, there probably would not be a significant market for add-ons. On the flip side of the coin, submitting goods to MS for sales in the marketplace will warrant some sort of “seal of approval” – heavily buggy products will probably not be allowed on the store and will force developers to be diligent in bug fixing before submittal to MS.
What about my favorite outlet?
What does this mean for the existing sites of FS software distribution such as SimMarket, FS Pilot Shop, or the AVSIM Store? Unfortunately, these guys will be cut out of the loop for newer Flight related goods. That also means that 3rd party goods will disappear from store shelves (though there have not been very many anyway). The ripple effects will be far and wide, but this new strategy will get exposure almost guaranteed for developers of add-ons for MS Flight, and these folks help keep the franchise going between releases.