Dovetail Games. The latest contender trying to make move to take over the flightsim throne from FSX. Can they do it? Do we even care? I think we should care. And I think they can.
If you haven't already read it, read part 1 first: Future Flight Simulator: Part 1 - P3D
At this point we're all basically cheering for anybody trying to make it to the top, because we need a new king. While diversity is great and keeps everyone on their toes, we also need one sim to rule them all.
There have been a lot of rumors and discussions about Dovetail Games, their plans and licensing deal with Microsoft. I'm not privy to the specifics of their deal with Microsoft, but from what I have read in the various discussions and press releases, I'm optimistic and excited about the Dovetail deal. This deal seems to be very similar to the type of deal Lockheed Martin has. LM has created their own simulator; P3D. Dovetail has also "acquired a global licensing deal with Microsoft, granting us the rights to develop and publish all-new flight products based on Microsoft's genre-defining flight technology", according to a press release by DTG, which means they will also be making their own sim based on FSX. Just like LM with P3D. Same thing.
Yes, I’m assuming the new sim by DTG will be based on FSX. Why not MS Flight? Because Microsoft literally could not give that sim away. It was available as a free download and Microsoft, with all their marketing power, could not give it away. MS Flight was available on the market for only 13 months before it was shut down. Why would anyone want to license a product with that kind of a track record? FSX is the current king of flight simulators and LM has proven with P3D that you can license FSX, make a great new sim from it, gain a following and make money. Which one would you license?
If Dovetail can take FSX and do for the consumer market what Lockheed Martin has done with FSX for the commercial use, military and academic markets, then I think we may possibly have a winner in the form of a new leading sim and a future for our hobby. But it all comes down to one thing; backwards compatibility with FSX addons. I believe this is the foundation of P3Ds success so far, and it will be the make it or break it point for Dovetail as well.
Backwards compatibility for addons is truly the blessing and the curse of flight simulators today. It's the reason P3D has shot past an establish sim like X-Plane even though XP has been in the market much longer. But on the other hand, backwards compatibility was probably a major factor in the downfall of the MSFS franchise as well. Going from FS9 to FSX there wasn't 100% backward compatibility and it made a lot of simmers sit back and hold out on buying FSX. FS9 is still the second largest sim around with a 4:1 margin down to P3D in third place. Ultimately, I think FSXs failure to sway all those FS9 simmers to make the switch made a huge impact on the money MS made, and it was a part of the reason why they quit. That's how much backward compatibility means.
Backwards compatibility, in terms of addon portability, is also the reason X-Plane hasn't been able to capture any sizable market share at all from FSX even though development of FSX ended years ago. Even if XP is a great sim, you lose all your FSX addons switching to XP. And over the years we have all accumulated quite a few of them. The sim itself is now by far the cheapest part of your flightsim setup. With all those addons in your hangar you can't afford to switch to another sim! And we all have too many addons we can't live without.
I think LM has done a great job with P3D. All Dovetail has to do is follow in LMs footsteps and make the new sim backwards compatible for old FSX addons – and then of course market it to the consumer entertainment market. I'm hopeful. Because it really is their only choice. If they don't, they're dead in the water. Unless they can come up with something truly revolutionizing - they're dead in the water without backwards compatibility.
But on the other hand; why else would Dovetail license FSX if they don't intend on making the new product backward compatible? They already have in-house world simulation technology which they currently use for their train sim. Might as well make good use out of what they already have and develop a flightsim out of that instead of giving all their money to Microsoft. I think there is only one reason they're not doing that and licensing MSFS technology instead; backward compatibility for old FSX addons. It's coming. That's my prediction.
Anyone hoping to knock FSX off its throne has to come up with a solution for the addon market - or do something revolutionizing for the flightsim world. Truth be told; either one will work for me. I just want a new sim. A market leading sim that people want to buy addons for. I think we all do.
I'm excited about the announced 2015 release by Dovetail Games. It could be another MS Flight, but it could also be something big if they do it right.
We’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but is the light coming from a sunrise or a sunset?
What do you think about Dovetail Games and the future of flight simming?