Flight Simulator is Biggest Xbox Game Pass for PC Launch Ever

Posted on September 3, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Games, PC gaming with 21 Comments

Microsoft Flight Simulator has, um, really taken off: It’s the biggest-ever Xbox Game Pass for PC launch with over one million players to date, Microsoft says.

“Microsoft Flight Simulator has a rich history as Microsoft’s longest-running franchise, and we are proud to announce we are celebrating the simulator’s biggest launch in 38 years,” Microsoft’s Jorg Neumann writes. “Just over two weeks ago, Microsoft Flight Simulator launched. Thanks to the incredible support of our community of fans, pilots, flight enthusiasts[,] and virtual travelers, we have had more than one million unique players take to the skies. Additionally, Microsoft Flight Simulator was the biggest game launch in Xbox Game Pass for PC history.”

Granted, that’s not a long history: Xbox Game Pass for PC is still in beta and only launched a bit over a year ago, in June 2019.

But whatever, it’s still a nice success story, and Microsoft adds that gamers have flown over 26 million flights and logged more than one billion miles flown to date, the equivalent of flying around the world over 40 thousand times.

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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Flight Simulator is Biggest Xbox Game Pass for PC Launch Ever”

  1. martinusv2

    For a PC game, 1 million players is a success indeed.

  2. Jim Lewis

    Quote from Vladmir's post:

    "i dont know if there are flight controls for Xbox. I guess there is some joystick available. But that’s not the point. The problem is that the number of required buttons is way over a controller or a joystick. To use all functions you need a keyboard or a mouse. How are they going to implement that on Xbox?"

    The function of the Xbox controls in the sim changes depending on what you're doing, i.e. flying from the cockpit vs. using a camera, like the drone camera in the external view, etc. And whether an Xbox controller is sufficient also depends on what you want to do. There is in-sim "AI" - if you fly in the EASY (beginner's mode), many flight functions are taken care of automatically for you, e.g., your wings never ice up so you don't need to use deicing, etc. If you just want to go for sight-seeing joy rides, you might get by with an Xbox controller. If you want to pretend to be a real airline pilot and start "cold and dark," you might need a lot more "stuff." So I think that's the amazing thing beyond the success of the sim itself. If you check on Amazon or elsewhere, many different types of flight controllers are sold out and then quickly bought out again as soon as they're restocked. It's going to be a bonanza for flight sim add ons, too. My Thrustmaster TFRP rudders pedals are on their way now, my old analog CH FlightStick from the early '90's has been resurrected with a $25 Rockfire USB game port, and when they're back in stock, a Honeycomb yoke and separate throttle quadrant will be heading my way, too. So for a $120 simulation (the Premium Deluxe version), I'll probably lay out close to $1K in simulator hardware (tempted to get a 4K monitor, too). But if you want, you can just get by with mouse and keyboard or with an Xbox controller. It definitely helps to pay attention to the hardware requirements to run the game at various performance levels. A lot of users who are complaining about the sim performance are trying to make do with inadequate RAM and VRAM in older computers with older graphics cards.

    The coolest use of the Xbox controller is if you're not up to squandering a fortune on hardware and just want to have fun, you can use the mouse and keyboard to fly and you can use your Xbox controller to control the external drone camera to get a bigger clearer view at different focal lengths thru the zoom function to enjoy what you're flying over.

    Paul said on Windows Weekly that he intends to give the game a shot when VR is ready to play. To give it a fair review, I think he's going to need a pretty powerful computer. Nvidia just announced the RTX 30 series, which approximately doubles graphic performance at each card level so to have a truly immersive and powerful VR experience one might need a RTX 30 series card in a really powerful desktop computer. I don't think the usual type of laptop that Paul reviews is going to cut it for testing out whether something like the HP Reverb G2 really makes for a WOW! experience with the sim as the VR lives off the machine's graphics card. Maybe Paul should start building his own high-end PC from one of those suppliers who sells a plan and the parts to go with it? Then he can review the whole experience from start to finish.

    P.S. I haven't tried it with an Xbox controller yet, but with just a mouse you can do a lot of stuff, e.g., change the view within the cockpit, zoom in or out on control panels, click and drag to push or twirl flight controls like the throttle or the control panel backlighting. So if there is a click-and-drag function for the Xbox controller in conjunction with your screen cursor, you can do "everything" in just the same way. Same goes for a VR headset. How can you control anything with that or adjust your controls (you can no longer see physical controls on the table in front of you!). One way is just to target stuff with your gaze and then control it in mousy fashion with your VR controllers. So before I buy a VR headset, I'll be looking forward to Paul's review and how well VR works to control his plane. I think he should report on trying to fly the Airbus A320 or the Boeing 747-8 or 787 with a VR headset!

  3. red.radar

    A title worthy of building a halo computer to enjoy.

  4. MutualCore

    This really should be a launch title for XBox Series X.

  5. chrissickels

    I also had install issues and issues where I need to reboot my system before i start playing but besides that I love it!!!

  6. proftheory

    So is Brad flying over "Tornado Alley" looking for storms?

  7. Scott Ross

    Yup I am one of the many who downloaded it with game pass. Still trying to get the sim to work with my Logitech G29 set up I do not want to buy any flight sticks or controls

  8. xapache

    It is a fun sim that I missed flying with from the years gone by. Wondering if they are going to add helicopters....Since I'm a helicopter pilot.

    Also, the initial install was a terrible experience that took far too long which I had to repeat twice before I got it successfully installed. I'm sure my ISP appreciated the gb of data I downloaded.

    Other than that gripe I like it.

    • sydney2k

      In reply to xapache:

      Helicopters are coming up soon on the roadmap.

      Also the first patch has just been uploaded, and that should alleviate most if not all of the issues people had with downloading the game- so give it another spin.

    • Jim Lewis

      In reply to xapache:

      Besides helicopters, hot air balloons and gliders have also been requested. They have an MSFS forum category called "Wishlist" and people who participate in the forum can upvote features they most want but it's a long and winding road .... They have to take care of the weather. At a number of places in the world it's always blowing from 225 degrees @ 3 knots right now! - in spite of the world weather data provider saying everything's OK on their end going into the pipeline. And some places in the world have too many trees, others too few or trees only pop into detail at a reasonable height when you get close. But a reasonably small number of gotcha's aside, it's incredible.

  9. duncanator

    It's been fun to fly using the training flights but now that they've been completed, there's a huge gap to go from those to just flying somewhere. If you're not a pilot, it's really difficult. Still, it's a lot of fun.

  10. Vladimir Carli

    The main problem on Xbox is the controls. It becomes more an arcade game

    • Paul Thurrott

      That sounds like an advantage, not a problem. :)
      • Vladimir Carli

        It depends a bit how one wants to play. The arcade part is to fly around and watch the scenery. That's amazing in the beginning but I believe it becomes much less interesting over time. What gives the depth to the game is the simulation part and that's going to be though on xbox. How are you going to tune a radio or program the flight management computer? With a controller one will encounter the same issues that you have when you have to type in username and passoword with a controller. Mouse and keyboard becomes essential

    • paulkocz

      In reply to Vladimir:

      Thrustmaster make these: https://www.thrustmaster.com/en_US/products/tflight-hotas-one

      I have one which I use on PC and XBox One X. Great device - reasonably priced. There is more coming as well.

    • Vladimir Carli

      In reply to Vladimir:

      i dont know if there are flight controls for Xbox. I guess there is some joystick available. But that’s not the point. The problem is that the number of required buttons is way over a controller or a joystick. To use all functions you need a keyboard or a mouse. How are they going to implement that on Xbox?

    • SvenJ

      In reply to Vladimir: You don't think there are flight controls for XBox, or there won't be more?

      • Paul Thurrott

        Yes, some were announced this week. https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2020/09/02/designed-for-xbox-new-look-continuous-compatibility/ "Honeycomb Aeronautical is a worldwide leader in flight simulator hardware, both for home use and flight training. They will be working with Microsoft on developing the next generation of class leading flight controls for Xbox Series X and Microsoft Flight Simulator."
  11. pauldain

    Any scuttlebutt on what the actual Xbox version will be like? I'm only using Windows 10 in a Parallels VM, but have been very tempted to get a capable PC exclusively for MFS. However, if the Xbox version is genuinely on the horizon I may wait.

  12. mattbg

    FS seems like the ideal product for xCloud, with it being a large game with a low frame rate. Not sure how you would play this with an XBox Controller, however.

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