Microsoft’s Newest Flight Simulator Goes Freemium

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In the gaming world, there are gamers, there are hardcore gamers… and then there are flight sim players. These guys exist on a plane of dedication that they can claim almost exclusively, with a degree of commitment matched only by their spiritual brothers: the train sim players.

Alas, no level of dedication can pay to keep the lights on if the fan base simply isn’t big enough… hence the layoff of Microsoft’s entire Flight Simulator team back in 2009. Looking to start afresh and bring new blood (and new wallets) into the fan base, Microsoft’s taking a different approach with their latest game, Flight: it’s going freemium.

Microsoft Flight will be free-to-play when it’s released sometime this Spring… as long as you’re only looking to fly over Hawaii’s Big Island. If you’re looking to expand your horizons with new locations (or to fly in any other planes besides what comes included), you’ll need to cough up some change.

This is… actually quite clever. Microsoft’s problem has never been getting a few people people hooked — it’s getting them to play in the first place. With a freemium model, the user base should spike straight up. And for every player that sticks around and invests in a triple monitor set-up with dedicated cockpit controls, they’ll have a mountain of DLC awaiting. The first hit is free, as they say.

We’ll have to see just how well the game gets embraced by Flight Simulator’s current fan base, though — so far, most of the audiences comments seem to be harping on it as little more than a minor upgrade or bashing its graphics engine. But hey — it’s (sorta) free!