PMDG, is there turbulence ahead in the Flight Sim world?
FSX was released in October 2006, or exactly 3860 days since today. Since then we have enjoyed a decade of platform stability, especially since Microsoft’s Aces team ceased development on the platform. Whilst many were concerned about FSX’s future, it has proven to be reliable and incredibly successful especially as more modern hardware has become available. Whilst many would have liked a newer FS version from Microsoft, the fact we had a single platform did provide some benefit. For a start, there was no need to update add-ons very frequently. Once a developer had worked out all the bugs you were set and could spend you’re well earned money on new sceneries, aircraft or other enhancements and knew that wouldn’t have to pay the developer just because a new FS version broke something. This meant many of us could build up huge libraries of FS add-ons meaning the FSX many of us fly in today looks and feels completely different to Microsofts original product. This could be about to change, as Prepar3D v4 is being developed with a much hyped 64bit version on the way and the recent Dovetail games announcement about Flight Sim World. Our stable FS world is about to fly into uncertainty and possibly some turbulence as developers come to grasp with the new platforms, learn to develop for them and more crucially decide which platform to develop for. PMDG have wondered about this themselves and have published an insightful statement which we left unedited below:
There is an ancient curse that occasionally comes to mind: “May you live in interesting times.”
As a software developer and a pilot, I am a big fan of boredom. Boredom means everything is stable. To my point of view, stable is good.
A few years ago the sim world went into panic when Microsoft killed off their flight simulation development and walked away from the market. Those of you who have been here a while will recall that I have been quite vocal in my musing that this was a good thing, as it would open the door to newer ideas and innovation and might signal a renewal of the hobby after a period of pain. I have continued to support this point of view- and I think 2017 will be the year that finally begins to see modern software and hardware architecture bringing joy to simmers.
We are coming out of a period of unprecedented platform stability. A full decade with a single platform has allowed developers to innovate and build capability without having to re-learn the process every two years as we used to do “back in the day.”
With that in mind- we are starting to get quite a few folks asking questions about future platforms so I wanted to put a bit of information out to you in order to ease any concerns you might have about our plans for the future:
There is quite a bit of “noise” in the community, none of which has been confirmed, indicating that Lockheed Martin is working on the next iteration of Prepar3D. For our P3D customers, please know that our long-standing policy has been that we intend to support our existing products through P3D v4 “at least.” This is included in the purchase you have already made and will not require further costs. It is reasonable to expect that a new version will include new features, and we expect that we will adopt those that make sense and roll them out using the micro-update process we have been developing over the past couple of years.
All of this is just a re-statement of the policy we announced in January 2015 when we launched our first products for Prepar3D- nothing has changed.
Dovetail Games’ Flight Sim World:
A number of folks have been wondering what our official position is with regard to the recently announced Dovetail Games’ Flight Sim World package. I wanted to summarize our thoughts in hopes that it will prevent some of the uninformed conjecture that has started up on the topic.
Summary: We are very excited to see Dovetail’s work beginning to bear fruit and we look forward to learning more. At this juncture it is really not a simple task to answer the many questions being asked about whether or not PMDG will support the platform, whether our existing product line can be converted to FSW, etc etc. The bottom line is that we don’t know much of anything about the platform.
For a period we were in fairly regular communication with DTG regarding their plans and progress, but that communication dried up shortly after we declined to offer our product line via the DTG controlled Steam channel for FSX-Steam Edition, and we haven’t really heard much of anything from them since that time. We received a few email announcing staff changes, but we received no replies to our ongoing outreach effort, so at the moment when I look at the planning board for the next year, I see only a question mark next to the DTG platform.
We are simply waiting to hear, and remaining open minded.
With that said, I can boil the whole thing down pretty easily: Once we have a platform and an SDK and some marketing direction from DTG to work with, we will make a business decision: If the platform is capable of supporting highly complex simulations of modern airliners (we presume it will) and if we are able to market our products through our existing channels then there is a high degree of certainty that we will support it. If the market will require participation through a market controlled channel such as steam, the likelihood of our support diminishes rather significantly depending upon the costs of doing business through that channel.
As for whether our products can be ported to their new platform- it is safe to presume that they can… After all- it is just software. We do not doubt that it will require some dedicated development work and that is why we have the big question mark next to DTG on the planning board… We know work will be required, but we don’t know when or how much to plan…
So stay tuned…
In the mean time, work progresses on the nearly completed PMDG DC-6 Cloudmaster for FSX and P3D, and the PMDG 747-8 Queen of the Skies II for both FSX and P3D is well on it’s way to testing. We will likely have another couple of updates for the 747-400 very shortly, as we have been continuing to chip away at open items as we move the 747-8 down the assembly line.
As you can imagine, adding in all of the 747-8 functionality has created a bit of chaos in the code base, which has slowed down the update cycle for the 744, but I think we are through the worst of it now. (touch wood, hold thumbs, cross fingers and toes, etc…)
These may not be “interesting” times, but they are darned exciting!
Oh and wait until you see what else we are working on.