Microsoft Flight, the latest entry from the popular and long-running Flight Simulator series for Windows, will feature a new free-to-play business model when it releases in spring.
This new release is not only the first Flight Simulator game in five years but also the first one in the series to adopt the free-to-play approach. Microsoft Flight will feature a store for purchasing and downloading extra content like new aircraft, regions, and customization options.
The microtransaction-based, free-to-play model has brought new life to several dormant franchises in recent years, like Shadowrun, Ultima, and Shenmue. Microsoft recently released a free-to-play edition for another one of its PC series, Age of Empires, in November 2011.
Microsoft's immersive but complex Flight Simulator franchise, which has developed a dedicated following over the last 30 years, seemed in trouble when the publisher closed ACES Game Studio, its development house for the titles, in 2009 to "align [its] people against [its] highest priorities."
The company announced Microsoft Flight last year, however, as an internally developed continuation of the series that takes place in Hawaii. It's designed to be more approachable to novice players, and to introduce "a new perspective to the long-standing genre."
"Aviation can be incredibly technical, but we've taken great care to build an experience that makes taking to the skies thrilling and accessible for everyone," says Microsoft Flight's executive producer Joshua Howard.
Along with its marketplace for buying additional content, Microsoft Flight features heavy integration for Games for Windows Live for updates (e.g. daily challenges), achievements, and playing with others.