It’s hard to believe that Microsoft’s longest-running software product line isn’t Windows but the Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the hardcore amateur flight sim has been around since 1982. While fans wondered if the franchise had come to an end in 2006 with Flight Simulator X, it got its second wind with the help of Jorg Neumann and some new tech.
In 2020, Microsoft Flight Simulator returned to adoring fans, the number of which is apparently doubling in size with every new platform release. Selling the return to the big boss at Xbox, Phil Spencer, was surprisingly easy. Jorg Neumann, the head of Microsoft Flight Simulator, told VGC that he pitched the new game with a demo of Seatle in 3D. As he flew the demo plane over the building the team was meeting in at that moment, Spencer reportedly asked, “why are you showing me a video of Seattle?” That’s an amazing thing to hear when you’ve created a hyperrealistic simulator game!
The 40th Anniversary Edition update of the game came out in November 2022 with several planes, old and new, introduced to the 2022 game for free. Past models revamped for the new sim as well as a special edition, the massive Spruce Goose from the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, were created for the growing fandom. While plenty of players are truly fans of the aviation aspect, much of the growth has been attributed to the world as well. Being able to fly around the globe in settings so realistic that they can be mistaken for a video was something that caught on while people were kept from traveling in 2020.
While celebrating at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in Oregon, VGC asked Jorg Neumann on his thoughts about the future of such a long-running franchise. Neumann made what may have been a joke about the goal being 2032 for the final game. Considering the PR person beside him reportedly looked shocked, this may be a joke. Especially since this newest edition is 300 GB already! That’s a huge game.
So while it may not have infinite growth opportunities, it likely won’t be done anytime soon. Neumann said he has 80 to 100 planes in development at the moment, all with excellent quality that he says the game cannot ever deviate from. It also turns out the game’s resilient popularity has opened doors, allowing for the devs to basically get any licenses they want. That wasn’t always the case. It will be interesting to see how much longer it can go on.