Microsoft might long ago have abandoned Flight Simulator X when they dismantled its developer shortly after release, but for the past eight years the game has been supported dutifully by its community and third-party developers. That's continuing next week when Dovetail Games - famed for Train Simulator and its oodles of DLC - are bringing an updated version of the game to Steam. The slight revision will feature "enhanced multiplayer functionality", along with Windows 8.1 support and a future of (albeit paid-for) updates.
This obviously has consequences for other third-party Flight Sim X developers, though Dovetail say they'll make "every effort to ensure that as many of them as possible work".
I long ago abandoned Microsoft's series for its rival X-Plane, but I'm aware that there's much I'm missing out on. For that reason, I'm interested in a Steam release with a few extra flaps and rudders because it offers an easy opportunity for me to re-visit it. But as Tim Stone reported when news of this deal was first announced back in July, not everyone is so keen.
Flight Sim X doesn't just have modders, but a pocket industry of satellite companies who make and sell add-ons to the game. Those additions are essential to making Flight Simulator X the robust experience it is, so it's similarly essential that the Steam version continue to support them, as A2A Simulation's Scott Gentile explained to The Flare Path in the story linked above.
The announcement mentioned add-ons from both Dovetail "and partners", so I reached out to find out exactly what that meant. Here's the official statement:
There are so many add-ons currently available for FSX that we cannot promise that all of them will work with no issues. FSX: Steam Edition is installed in a different way to the boxed version and occupies a different location so it is possible that some add-ons may not work, but rest assured that we have made every effort to ensure that as many of them as possible work. Where add-ons do not immediately function with FSX: Steam Edition we will try to work with the community, developer or publisher of the add-on to find the solutions as needed. Again, we cannot promise that 100% of all add-ons released over the history of FSX will work with FSX: Steam, but we are committed to trying.
Which doesn't address all the questions I had about profits and payments, but does make a solid commitment to making sure the Steam edition's benefits aren't undone before the game's left the runway. A2A's Gentile reached out in light of this story with his current thoughts as to the Steam release:
"I can understand those who are optimistic and those who are not, based on the recent rocky history at Microsoft. One would have to think Dovetail will do a better job managing the community than Microsoft (which for some reason appeared lost at best), but with any new release, you have to get past the honeymoon phase to know the true mettle of a developer / publisher. It’s all in their hands and time will tell probably pretty soon."
This story has been updated on 13/12/2014.