• Flight Sim World - One Year Later

    Endgame

    On April 23rd 2018, a press release was posted onto the Dovetail Games blog announcing the end of Flight Sim World and everything that was to be. Citing the lack of direction and falling number of users, it was decided that all development would stop for the platform immediately, and on May 24th the simulator would be removed from the Steam and Dovetail stores entirely. Those who owned the simulator previously would keep it, but no-one else would ever be able to purchase it thereafter. The day came and went and with that, the once growing platform with so many ideas ahead, fell into the depths of flight simming history.

    Flight Sim World     Flight Sim World

    So What Went Wrong With Flight Sim World?

    There are a number of factors that came into play with the demise of Flight Sim World. Some played a much bigger factor than others, but all combined, led to its downfall. Below I will highlight some of the major reasons that I feel led to the fall of the platform.

    Developer Backlash

    Soon after Dovetail Games first announced Flight Sim World, there were some talks behind closed doors about agreements between DTG and third-party developers. Not much is known about what was said and what offerings were made, but soon after release, there was some major backlash from a number of developers that targeted Flight Sim World as a money-grab scheme. This led to some conflict between Dovetail Games, Flight Sim World, the community and payware developers which never really calmed down.

    Flight Sim World     Flight Sim World

    This lack of third-party support meant that already, Flight Sim World was threatened with quite possibly a very limited amount of content coming into it from other sources. This definitely pushed away a lot of users who like to add high-quality content alongside their base game from a number of reputable developers.

    Lack Of Add-Ons And Jets

    Speaking of lack of add-ons, this was also an issue in itself as it limited the replayability of Flight Sim World. Most people will have two or three high-quality aircraft and a number of smaller less-advanced ones to fill their virtual hangar, however FSW only had a small handful of GA aircraft to choose from.

    Flight Sim World     Flight Sim World

    I remember a couple of days after release I managed to figure out a way to mod aircraft and scenery by editing the simulator config files directly, and so published this onto the Steam Guides system as well as onto YouTube. To this day, two of my four guides are sitting in the top four most popular for FSW, with the aircraft guide sitting at the top of the list. Unfortunately however these were not without their own flaws as gauges and switches are compiled in 32-bit. The upshot of this is that these would not function within the simulator and therefore could not be manipulated (although they still displayed correctly).

    An SDK was released by Dovetail as part of the Pro Mission Editor, and for a year after closure was still maintained by the developers, meaning people could in actual fact create their own aircraft and scenery for the simulator (however, very few people did).

    Flight Sim World     Flight Sim World

    The Dwindling User Base

    From its initial release, fewer and fewer people were attracted to it, regardless of updates and new features. The sim's peak stands at 644 users according to SteamDB, and that was on release day. In comparison, FSX: Steam Edition peaks at 5,821, while X-Plane 11 held 2,268 at one time - both of those numbers not including third-party and DVD users! This lack of interest from the community meant that Dovetail was trying to provide high-level additions and features for people that were not even there. While many hoped that it would slowly increase in usage, this just never happened and as a result, the only alternative was to axe the whole thing.


    7 Comments
    1. b52bob's Avatar
      b52bob -
      This was a great sim with great potential. It was killed in all directions - Steam’s rumored control of third party add ons, backlash from developers, criticism from the community and the impression that Steam was just money grabbing. I liked it, supported it, and still have it on my system. It was a mess brought about by all sides. Have gone to XP-11, deleted FSX, and use P3D rarely only for those aircraft not in XP.
    1. rooitou's Avatar
      rooitou -
      I agree with review. It wasn't a bad sim, but wasn't compelling enough to have in addition to FSX, P3D or X-Plane11. The market simply was saturated and FSW didn't offer anything which stood out to make it a "must-have". Personally I didn't like the scenery that much as the trees didn't blend well and stood out too prominently. I also found their new cloud technology a bit strange as it created a FLIR-like image when inside them and looked like cellophane plastic from the outside.
    1. eric5150's Avatar
      eric5150 -
      The best thing I thought Flight Sim World provided was better flight dynamics. I am soon to be a private pilot and when trying to practice spins and even stalls to a certain extent in both P3D and FSX, it is not realistic. In Flight Sim World, it was a lot more realistic with the way you would enter a spin/stall and the recovery. I still to this day cannot do a realistic spin in P3D or FSX. I obviously can get the plane to stall in both P3D and FSX but it does not mimic the real-world "feel" of stalls that well. (I also wish that FSW came with a Cessna like I fly in the real-world)

      The thing that killed FSW is the monetary structure of addons and not trusting creators outside of FSW. You need to give free reign to other creators as that is what has made FSX and P3D an excellent sim in terms of scenery, addons, aircraft. I tried X-Plane 11 but it is too foreign for me and even though it has made leaps and bounds in scenery creation, it still is not enough for me.

      I'm now, after reading this article, reinstalling FSW to relive it with my new computer (Core [email protected] GeForce 2080 RTX OC). We'll see how much better it is now.
    1. vegad's Avatar
      vegad -
      Good article. Thank you. FSW was/is a very good sim killed by greed. DTG reps did initially say devs would have to sell via Steam but revised their statement saying they didn't want to alter the existing ecosystem. Major P3D/FSX devs were sore they didn't get Microsoft to allow their consortium to build on ESP but went solely with DTW. They started a negative campaign driven by mob mentality that quickly scared folks from investing on FSW. Similar statements have already been released from some of the same developers/influencers about MS FS 2020 as a form of warning to Microsoft. Notice how quickly Microsoft clarified their position towards developers. All we have is hope that Microsoft doesn't turn greedy asking for a cut of each dev sales. If things turn out as the influential devs want it, I'm sure will still have to pay full price for the same airplanes in MS FS 2020 for one of the devs.
    1. zswobbie1's Avatar
      zswobbie1 -
      vegad, the new simulation from Microsoft is called Microsoft Flight Simulator, & NOT MS FS 2020.

      Us simmers should stick to the actual name of the forthcoming simulator, as stated by Microsoft themselves, & not made up names such as FS2019, FS2020 & the name now used by yourself.
    1. K0TNT's Avatar
      K0TNT -
      After seeing the early videos for FSW and the declaration that a six core was the minimum hardware needed, I managed to move to an 8 core computer that really runs rings around my old dual core that couldn't even load XP1)! Literally the week I bought the new computer came the news of FSW's demise. Fortunately I was able to get one of the last copies and it is really stunning. I run it from time to time ahead of FSX Steam and XP11. Altho XP11 has come a long way with addon aircraft, none approach the visual experience in FSW. Still my favorite despite some of the minor bugs and glitches. Former Link C-11 Instrument Trainer instructor, USAF.
    1. neilfb's Avatar
      neilfb -
      If Dovetail Games had one as I suggested and make a 64bit FSX then everything would have worked! Okay they wouldn't have made as much money but many people would have moved from FSX because of OOM's alone. It's a shame really I got the impression FSW was made by computer guys and not flightsim enthusiasts.
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