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Webmaster's Mailbag: Payware





Most of my email is pretty routine stuff, but sometimes I get caught off guard. It's really kind of shocking what some people think of our beloved hobby, for example this email just received (paraphrased a bit, and atrocious grammar and spelling corrected):


I have read articles regarding web sites that are trying to turn people away from the hobby. Some of the reading is so shocking that web sites will do anything just for the money. FlightSim.Com and Avsim can't say they are not doing this, when they are.


I cannot believe when web sites say it is the peoples' choice what they upload. It's not true at, all payware means money and money turns to greed so web sites will do anything just to sell payware only.


A payware will be sold by the web site one day and by three days later the web site is flooded only with repaints from that product.


What a sad and cynical statement. I wonder where all these articles are? Here's my reply:


After operating FlightSim.Com all these years I find myself rather baffled by your comments. We certainly are not trying to "turn people away from the flight simulator hobby"...just the opposite in fact! One of my primary goals in operating the site is to serve as sort of a cheerleader for the hobby, promoting it in all its aspects.


However, I can only lead to a certain extent. Though you don't seem to believe it, it really is true that our file library is completely driven by the interests of the developer portion of the flightsim community. We do not control or limit the file library contents in any way; what you see added there each day depends entirely on what community members choose to contribute. If some of the files are add-ons (textures, etc.) for payware products that's only because that is what interests those people.


You said: "A paywear will be sold by the website one day and by three days later the website is flooded only with paywear textures from that product." Well, think about how natural that is. It's simple human nature to be interested in the latest thing, whatever that might be. When a new airplane comes out people are going to get it and repaint it, whether it's payware or freeware. While it's new there will be lots of repaints and then eventually something newer will come along and repainters will flock to that.


As for our file library, I took a look at today's submissions. There are 61 new files, of which 47 are freeware and not tied to any payware product. I think that's pretty typical. There's plenty of freeware available, if anything the most difficult challenge is choosing since no one can possibly try it all!


Instead of complaining I suggest that you just enjoy our hobby. We have an abundance of great things available to supplement the basic simulators.


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I am sorry that you received this sort of E-mail from some-one out there. As a feverent supporter of all freeware and a senior member of a flightsim group, I find this type of letter to be scandalous and unsupportable, if it was not for the availability of mostly freewar:- aircraft/scenery/terrain/textures/mesh/repaints and so forth, then most of the flightsim community would not be able to function or fly. I will bet that if most of the flightsim community looked into their libraries, they would find in excess of 60% as freeware in their systems. Yes, we all know as soon as a good payware aircraft comes along, within 24-48hrs the repaints follow, and does this not increase the fleet of various airlines in our systems. A site like this is very heavily reliant on the amount of uploads that come into the various libraries and also on the amount of downloads that take place on a daily occurrence, but this can only happen if there is a good network of people who furnish their time freely doing so to make such uploads for all. If it were not for these type of library websites then I am afraid a lot of flightsimmers would pack it in and not fly. Keep up the good work that you do here at Flightsim and keep us flying.

Yours truely

Myk Varker


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I purchase a lot of payware. However, my favorite aircraft, which is a frequent topic of discussion at the FlightSim.Com Aircraft Customization forum, is a fusion of a $10 payware aircraft with I-haven't-counted-how-many freeware aircraft and utility components -- gauges, an airframe. I would not -- could not -- have my favorite aircraft without the work of so many dedicated developers who offer their work for free to the rest of us.


That said, when someone decides to give huge chunks of their life to the hobby, why should anyone expect them to work for nothing? If it weren't for the payware aspect of the hobby there are many excellent FS-related products that simply would not exist in anything but rudimentary form, if at all.


Mike McCarthy

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Perhaps the negative blog quoted above is more the product of an angry and confused mind than a real comment on our hobby. When comments are this far off the wall, they belie the illness of the author not the faults of the web site or its users. Edited by jgspangler
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Myk's points are well taken indeed. While I hope and still believe that the letter writer does not represent the common view among flight simulation enthusiasts, it is no less troubling that Websites such as FS.Com and Avsim are assailed for their content. Quite frankly, where else would we turn for such a vast library of free (and I emphasize that word) material?


I have been involved in this hobby for about thirteen years now and have written for a major flightsim print magazine for the past seven and a half years and in that time have seen a marked shift toward the prevalence of commercial vs. freeware titles being offered to enthusiasts. Our magazine has received many letters on that subject due in part to the fact that we rarely review freeware titles any longer. It is not because we are part of the same conspiracy that has purportedly driven FS.Com and Avsim to the "dark side" of payware promotion but simply the fact that there are far more high quality commercial products than freeware available today. This is not a slam on freeware developers in any way but simply an economic fact of life.


FS technology and by no small coincidence, our expectations of any given product (yes, freeware files ARE products) have progressed to a point that it is just no longer feasible for for most individual hobbyists to devote the sort of time and effort required to produce an aircraft, scenery or utility that meets our expectations. I won't even go into the issue of freeware developers being discouraged away from contributing by users hounding them with negative comments.


The fact that Websites offer a plethora of free repaints for commercial aircraft packages is not a stain on their record of benevolence to the hobby but exactly the opposite. Obviously people are buying these packages, otherwise no one would either be offering nor interested in repaints for them. Many developers of these commercial packages offer a limited number of additional repaints, if any and it is the enthusiasm and generosity of their customers who make it possible for others to find that particular livery they may be looking for.


As Nels said, the file libraries of both sites are totally driven by the contributors who upload these files and if if they reflect a shift toward support of payware products, it is because that is the prevailing trend in the hobby, not greed. Nels may correct me if I am wrong but I'm pretty sure that neither he or Tom Allensworth receive any direct financial reward from commercial developers for making free repaints of their products available.


Tony Radmilovich

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There are two sides to everything, and same goes for this letter... I can truly understand the frustration in his/her words, especially in the years since what I call the golden days of MSFS (FS2000). Of all of the video games released in the last 10 years+ (and yes, MSFS is just a video game.. a platform as it is, and even a training tool, but nonetheless primarily a form of interactive entertainment), MSFS is one of the very, very few that is modded by the community on a commercial basis.. Half Life, Neverwinter Nights, Call of Duty, the list of modded programs goes on an on, yet almost none of them are commercially marketed modifications, and so for those entering our hobby in recent past, it is a concept difficult to grasp, and for those who have been with the hobby since the early days of modding FS, we look back to the days when Payware modifications were very few indeed, and you could have nearly anything you wanted in the form of freeware.. Unfortunately, in my opinion, we as users are just as responsible for this shift, as we demand, yes, I mean DEMAND increasing amounts of authenticity, functionality and precision, which require extensive costs in time, material, and money to produce, and anything short of perfection is immediately blasted into obscurity, or worse, in cases of a few freeware developers who have been run out of the hobby entirely.


Like Mr. McCarthy, I too have several aircraft that I just love to fly that are simple freeware or basic, "budget" payware aircraft that have a reasonably decent visual model, which I generally rebuild the flight dynamics, supplement, or even replace the cockpit gauges, and so on to get what I consider the perfect joyride. However, that is beyond the reach of many people, and such they go looking for complete, ready to run packages, and in the form of aircraft, these have indeed dwindled to a small fraction of what was available in diversity 10 years ago. But this is a problem that we, the users have created, by our increasing demands for "quality" and our refusal to accept anything short of absolute perfection.. I truly felt sorry for people like Mike Stone, who just enjoyed creating things, and then sharing them with the world, only to have everything they did (free of charge, mind you) picked apart and thrown in their faces because it couldn't hold up to the quality level of PMDG or Flight1.. At one point in time I was of the thoughts that there were developers out there that turned their backs on freeware in the name of money, but the Developer's Forums changed my mind on that (or maybe gave them an easier avenue to communicate with individuals without having to go through piles of hate mail).. But for them, the world of FS ceased to be a hobby, in my opinion. It became a business opportunity, and the best and brightest will continue down that road as long as there are people willing to spend money for their creations. It is the most basic law of economics in action, and cheers to those who succeed in their endeavors. Yet we must look at ourselves and ask if we are demanding so much perfection that we are strangling the creativity (or at least the willingness to share that creativity) out of those who only wish to enhance their hobby for the sake of it, rather than for financial gain.


And Mike, go back to the glory days and check out a lot of what was cutting edge, envelope pushing material in the days of FS98 and FS2000. I'm not saying that people shouldn't be rewarded for their efforts, but payware is not responsible for the excellent FS products, they were already on the way, people just decided that there was a market for those products and chose to be compensated for their time, and congrats to them for their successes..

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I know what the glory days were like. I don't need to check because I've been simming since the days of Bruce Artwick's ATP. So all along we've had both payware and freeware. While the coimponents of my favorite aircraft are mostly freeware, the fact is that these days the aircraft I acquire are almost exclusively payware.


I go to the file library for gauges and utilities, and sometimes I'll download an aircraft just to get at its gauges, but for me the glory days of freeware have been replaced by the current glory days of payware.

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I'm going back to the Aircraft Customization forum where, for the most part, peace and harmony reign. A year ago I promised myself not to get involved in other parts of this site, or any of the other usual sites. While this thread has been peaceful so far, I can see the controversy from here and I want to avoid it.
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It's amazing how some people can miss the point. Our hobby is different to each of us. Without flightsim.com where would we turn? It can get frustrating if you check out the pages and don't find what you are looking for every time out. Each of our interests are as varied as we are. That's what makes this hobby great. Keep up the good work even though some may not appreciate it.
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I like to express my dissapointment at the persons comment that led to this discussion. I have found the flightsim.com site to be the absolute best site for free add ons. The quality of most add ons is incredibly good. I have been looking almost dayly at the offerings and I must say that I have never been dissapointed. I am running a dual cockpit simulator set up on FSX and whilst I have some Commercial add ons, I have found some of the free offerings from flightsim.com to be often as good and at time better then the commercial products. A great site. Keep it up. It adds a awfull lot to our hobby. Franz, Australia
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What does it come down to? MONEY. People nowadays want everything for free or darn near it. They expect quality products at a ridiculously low price, or better yet, that it be given to them for free because the world ows them a living. As a business owner, I have seen this type of attitude over and over again. They want your quality product for the price (or cheaper) sold at a mega store that imports from all over the world (e.g. China). People have their priorities wrong. They want the high end products, be flashy and all, however, when it's time to fix all of them "Look at me how good I am" stuff, they expect cheap repairs because they have no money left.

As mentioned, what you upload is YOUR choice, your business. There is still a huge amount of freeware out there, and yes, even at FlightSim and AVSim. FlightSim does a fantastic job at giving equal opportunities to developers.

So, for the complainer, quit your whining. As I like to point out to people like you, if you don't like the music, don't listen to it. YOUR CHOICE, get it????????? YOUR CHOICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I agree with just about all of you. I was into the flight community way back during FS2000. My wife used to call it the other woman in my life. Well, I got rid of her & now jumped back in with the newest FSX. While the community has changed a lot, it's still one of the best group of people I have ever been associated with. The payware is a little more expensive than it used to be but so is everything else. It it truely more realistic & more fun to fly. I find myself spending more & more time tweaking & flying than ever before & can't wait to check out the newest files each day. This is the only hobby that I know of that you can buy an inexpesive base game & in two weeks of downloading free stuff, it doesn't even look like the same thing at all. All I can say is keep up the great work & us old guys will keep haveing more fun. Also, I want to thank all of you that spend so many hours of your time to keep improving an already great hobby.
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Weighing in here: websites like flightsim.com have been fantastic for the hobby of flight simulation. Payware and freeware both have a valuable place in the hobby and I have enjoyed both. If developers would like to be paid for their work, then let them charge. If it is worth it in my opinion, I'll buy it. If a developer wishes to give it away and hope that someone thanks them and I think it is worth it, I'll download it and thank them. If flightsim.com chooses to promote one set of developers over the other, that is fine by me and if they choose to charge for advertising and then promo the payware products, that is perfectly fair and fine. It keeps the site running and keeps our hobby "flying."


Flight simming is not a "right" nor is it a "right" to just have freeware or just have payware. It all works together nicely provided everyone plays fair and aims for the enjoyment of the hobby first.


Keep up the good work Nels and all the developers out there.

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What a load of nonsense. Just where is this chap coming from?


I think FLIGHTSIM has a wonderful balance between PAYWARE and FREEWARE offerings. Just checked my own SIMOBJECTS/AIRPLANES folder.... (excluding multi textures for the same A/C) - 202 Aircraft of which 25 are PAYWARE products. Akmost all of the 202 are FLGHTSIM sourced. If a particular PAYWARE product comes onto the market and it is in my specific area of interest then, more often than not, I shall purchase it.


To support a home for the offerings of the FREEWARE developers I recently took out a 3 year sub. They desrve much praise for their efforts.


I do not know if the above proportion is representative of the majority. I suspect it may be. If so, then that surely gives the lie to FLIGHTSIM being 'developer' driven.



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I think that there is a fairly good balance of free and buy ware here. However I have noticed an upsurge in re-paints for the commercial products. The only problem I have with buyware is this, there is a lack of objective and comprehensive reviews out there even here. However I do not completely blame web sites for that as that it is more of the wild variety of PC set-ups out there. One review will say that a particular aircraft has smooth frame rates another for the same product will call it a frame rate hog. Plus of course some reviews are done (I feel anyway) by reps or friends of the developer to boost sales. I personally think Nels does a pretty good job balancing the needs of both sides of this issue.
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Flightsim.com is one of the contributing factors for me becoming an airline pilot. That being said I have been using Flightsim.com for over a decade, and this fellow who wrote this nasty gram to Flightsim.com doesn't seem to grasp what it is all about.


Thank you Flightsim.com for providing such a great resource to the aviation community.

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