To be honest, I don't think that there really is a huge market of "casual flight simmers" out there.
There are not even many people interested in arcade style flying games. While the Ace Combat series on the PS2 sold well, with two of the titles earning the "Greatest Hits" label they are still rather unknown and low profile. The latest entry, Assault Horizon, have to shift its focus towards being a CoD style clone with jets because the team was told they were not selling enough copies of the previous Ace Combat style. It would also explain why the few arcade flight games released were done by smaller companies. And the number of these games (Lethal Skies, Aero Elite) have been deceasing steadily over the years.
If casual gamers do not have enough interest in Ace Combat style games, I don't see how something more realistic will sell extremely well. They probably would have a more solid market if they stuck with FSX style realism/gameplay.
While I agree that the 'casual flight sim' market is a bit of a risk for mainstream adoption, your cited AC series numbers look a bit off. The AC6:AH alone has sold about 500,000 units world-wide, with the AC6 before that (just Xbox exclusive) being around 900,000 - and AH still has some more legs in it - plus this is console titles at $60 a pop.
To put it in to perspective, Namco/PA have made more money in 'flight sims' (chuckle) than Maddox Games, Eagle Dynamics and any other of the sims we love to play by a factor of about 10 (guessing, unless the DCS series made more than $20 million and they just keep quiet about it lol). Ironically, Microsoft FSX was the last 'mainstream' money-maker for a large publisher (if you ignore Ubisoft's hands-off approach of SH and CloD)
Microsoft will make a profit on Flight, and might have a new franchise to attract console players (perhaps not the 360, but the one after it) - and the idea of 'putt putt'ing around Maui on the 50' TV with friends' could appeal in large numbers.
Personally it's not what I like, i.e. I'd prefer chess over checkers, but I don't see the harm in a world where lots of different types of players exist. Maybe some of them will go on to wanting a more 'hardcore' experience - and all boats float up etc. Given that FSX was dead, and that Prepare3d exists, there's no harm in Microsoft Flight for our hobby.
I'm just saying that despite the series being popular, and for it is (aside from AH) a perfect game, the sales are still very low compared to other genres. For example, Dead Space 2 sold two million copies and that is hardly a year old. And the Ace Combat series has not had any competition for some years. HAWX 1/2 were very poor. Wings of Prey and Apache Air Assault might count, though I believe those fall more into the Strike Fighters category as a "light sim".
I seem to recall the AC AH devs claiming that Namco was considering to stop funding the series, which is largely the reason for the gameplay change, which did not work out so well.
How many people have purchased ONE addon for FS... in the history of the game. I am wiling to bet that 100,000 would be a GROSS overstatement. But even if it were, No software publisher is interested in Developing a significantly complex simulator for 100,000 potential customers.
Now, how many have purchased 2... 3... 4 or more addons. Those numbers are falling precipitously.
Face it, gentlemen (and ladies if there are any of you out there).... we are a lousy customer base.
FS became what is it because twenty some odd years ago, before ABSOLUTE corporate interest took over, a bunch of geeks with mad coding skillz and a passion for aviation created FS and all its progeny. They made an engine that was fairly open and mod friendly that allowed the cottage industry of addons to sprout of and flourish (I did not say prosper). FSX is the culmination of years, if not decades of development. To think that somebody could make something as good today from scratch is folly.
As far as Flight is concerned, I look at it as the logical (albeit distasteful to many of us) progression of the genre in a world where its all about the bottom line.
Edited by LawnDartLeo (02/13/1205:16 AM)
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Simhq Weather man, dropping rain in your parade
we are not a lousy consumer base, they are the one wasting money on huge adds for a game and then wanting those ads to be paid, i said many times, if they lower the budget for marketing,games wouldnt need to get so much sales and could even be cheaper. back in the day you saw a magazine add, some banner on the retail, and at most a tv add, now we have trailers and more trailers,adds everywhere in every gaming site, etc.
It's not aimed at a bunch of gripey old guys that have been hanging around the same forum for a decade and have been playing sims since the 80's.
Remember the microsoft sticks planes in the 80's? What are we playing now?. What will the new generation that will pick up microsft flight be playing in a decades time?, Photo real sims in their 360 degree gaming visors?.
The more flight sims on the market the better, keeps the genre buoyant .