Microsoft has revealed the release date for its new free-to-play flight simulator, simply titled Flight. The game will be released for download on the official web site on February 29, 2012.
The announcement also reveals three pieces of DLC will be available at launch: the Hawaiian Adventure Pack, the Maule M-7-260C, and the P-51 Mustang.
The Hawaiian Adventure Pack contains the rest of the Hawaiian Islands; twenty new missions; and an additional plane, the Vans RV-6A, for 1600 MS Points ($20). Meanwhile, the Maule and P-51 will cost 1200 ($15) and 640 ($8) Microsoft Points respectively.
Analysis: A lot of people are up in arms over the prices of the DLC. Myself? I’m on the fence. For example, the P-51 Mustang costs $8. Back in Flight Simulator X, the P-51 Mustang could be bought from a third-party vendor as a mod for upwards of $40. The third-party publisher Warbirdsim sells it for $44! Why the high price? Because modeling for flight sims isn’t as simple as making a 3D model and some skins; you have to properly research everything about the aircraft so its flight characteristics in the game are as realistic as possible. In fact, let’s look at the features of the Warbirdsim paid P-51D Mustang content:
- 84 hours of sound effects recorded from two flights in real-life restored P-51D Mustangs
- Seven different Mustangs are included based on seven real-life restored P-51s. Details include both interior and exterior, propeller mountings, and even different types of gun sights.
- The use of original p-51 Mustang production blueprints to model the aircraft in the plane
What do we know of the Microsoft $8 Mustang? That Microsoft didn’t even bother including a model number (is it the -D or -C Mustang?) and even the description makes me feel that they really didn’t give it the care and attention that WarbirdSim did:
Stripped of guns and some weight, this version represents a restored Mustang that might be found at airshows today.
That might be found in airshows today? Why not find an airshow Mustang and recreate it in the game? Then you can say for sure that you have an airshow version of the P-51 in your game.
But what if you want to fly a Mustang but don’t want to shell out $40 for the privilege? Wouldn’t $8 be a reasonable price for a downgraded version? Well, if Microsoft let the mod community have access to the dev tools, we can have excellent free P-51s that would probably put Microsoft’s effort to shame. In fact, Flight Simulator X and Flight Simulator 2004 already have free fanmade P-51D models for download if you don’t want the expensive payware models.
In addition, Flight Simulator X launched with eighteen playable aircraft. Flight launches with two free aircraft. If we take the Mustang’s lower price point as the expectation for new aircraft pricing (640 MS points in comparison to the Maule’s 1200) to get sixteen new aircraft (the number Flight Simulator X launched with) would take $128.
This is the worst of free-toplay micro-transactions models: cheaper initial price but shafting you on the add-ons until you’ve spent more than you would have if you had bought a boxed retail release.