Why Microsoft Flight Simulator isn't coming to Xbox One (yet)

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Flight Simulator has expanded to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, bringing the full scope of its cloud-powered aviation to the couch. The title recreates the globe with satellite imagery, geospatial data, and artificial intelligence, with an original PC release taxing on even the latest high-end rigs. But Microsoft Flight Simulator on Xbox serves as an incredible technical achievement, doubling as a graphical showcase for Microsoft's best Xbox consoles.

While Microsoft Flight Simulator soon launches on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, it's also the first Microsoft-published title to skip Xbox One consoles. Microsoft has made it clear that previous-generation devices won't receive the game, excluding a sizeable install base with older hardware. But why is that the case? Here's what we know.

The reason Microsoft Flight Simulator isn't coming to Xbox One this July

Xbox One X

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Microsoft Flight Simulator is easily among the most demanding titles on the market, aiming to deliver photorealistic visuals across the entire globe. The PC experience pushed even the best CPUs and GPUs to their limits in 2020, with ultra-tier settings at 4K resolution nigh impossible for most high-end PC rigs. The complexity of its virtual world demands high system requirements, notably CPU-bound, to achieve steady performance.

While Microsoft hasn't provided total clarity around its decision to skip Xbox One consoles, the intention is evident when looking at what's on offer. The aging Xbox One hardware ultimately falls short for Microsoft Flight Simulator, including the revised Xbox One X from 2017.

The biggest advancements of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S naturally benefit Microsoft Flight Simulator, including a new custom AMD Zen 2 CPU pushing up to four times the power of Xbox One X. The affordable Xbox Series S rocks an eight-core CPU at 3.6 GHz — a clock speed just short of the 3.8 GHz achieved by Xbox Series X. Their similar brains outpace previous-generation hardware, meaning Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S can deliver a stable experience, as outlined in our Microsoft Flight Simulator Xbox review.

The Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S also have speedy solid-state drive (SSD) storage, alleviating another major bottleneck from past consoles. The faster read and write speeds reduce loading times and help support more complex worlds. That SSD technology goes in hand with a vast recreation of planet Earth.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

While the Xbox One X delivered sizeable upgrades over earlier Xbox One consoles, its weaknesses would still hold back Microsoft Flight Simulator. Upgrades to Xbox One X pushed a new six teraflop GPU, while the CPU remained largely untouched. The slower internal hard drive also causes issues when rendering the game world. The same shortcomings also apply to earlier Xbox One consoles and the Xbox One S. Ultimately, Xbox One consoles seemingly aren't fit to deliver a steady Microsoft Flight Simulator, pushing Microsoft to pursue Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S exclusivity.

I thought Xbox Series X|S wouldn't have exclusives yet?

Microsoft has previously stressed plans to continue Xbox One support, especially with Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S in short supply. Upcoming titles like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 launch on older Xbox One hardware, whereas previous console launches saw older hardware ditched at a much faster pace.

Xbox One remains a viable gaming platform in 2021, with almost every new title still shipping on the previous generation. We expect this to continue alongside current hardware constraints, with ongoing chip shortages bottlenecking who can purchase the consoles. However, for next-generation experiences like Microsoft Flight Simulator, we see a shift in the trend.

Will Microsoft Flight Simulator ever come to Xbox One?

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Most likely. Microsoft has no plans to bring Microsoft Flight Simulator to Xbox One, at least natively. However, investments in Xbox cloud gaming could directly benefit Xbox One owners still to upgrade at a later date.

The ongoing Xbox Cloud Gaming rollout recently saw iOS and PC testing expand to the public, joining Android devices in remote Xbox gaming. It brings full-fledged Xbox experiences to mobile devices over low-latency streaming, with planned expansions to smart TVs and even older Xbox One hardware. The move will essentially turn obsolete hardware into nodes for cloud gaming, including titles exclusive to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

"For the millions of people who play on Xbox One consoles today, we are looking forward to sharing more about how we will bring many of these next-gen games, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, to your console through Xbox Cloud Gaming, just like we do with mobile devices, tablets, and browsers," Microsoft stated.

Microsoft has been steadily upgrading its Xbox cloud gaming servers with new Xbox Series X hardware, providing a new way to access current generation experiences. Microsoft appears set to bring the new Flight Simulator to Xbox One. It's just not clear when the platform will be ready to deliver those experiences.

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

  • The affordable Xbox Series S rocks an eight-core CPU at 3.6 GHz — a clock speed just short of the 3.8 GHz achieved by Xbox Series S ? I think this is the X? The idea of an older console just becoming a portal to stream cloud games is certainly one way to keep hardware useful for longer. Definitely a worthy idea.
  • Oops, thanks for that!
  • We use the Kinect on our Xbox One, so there's no reason for us to get rid of it until the whole thing just stops working. I play MSFS on my PC, which allows me to fly in VR...again, no reason to buy a console.
  • A joke.
    its under 1 year since Xbox head Phil Spencer very clearly stated.
    None of Microsofts own in house titles, will not be exclusive to next gen consoles.
    and 1 year ago.. you can bet he was familiar with MS flight sim. and it would be comming to Next Gen.
    and numerous users also saying, that MS flight sim was being played in prestate on the One X. Its the One S that is the bottleneck.
    and sure they both have jaguars CPU but at way different specs.
    The cores in the Xbox One X are also optimized for DirectX 12 and are clocked at 1,172MHz — much higher than the Xbox One and Xbox One S. The CPU offers a roughly 30 percent increase in clock speed, so it feels a lot more powerful in its own right.
    The One X is potent fellow of a system.
    6.0 teraflops GPU. 12GB ram, and v3ry high memory bandwith. around 330Gbps as I recall.
    that is a lot.
    The Series X is around 465 in average, as some of it are at higher and some of it are at lover (10GB at 560 and 6GB at 336)
    the PS5 is around 440GBps as I recall.
    the Series S is way lover at 10GB and the 8GB is at 224GBps and the 2GB is at 56GBps.
    so the old One X memory bandwidth is very high at 326GBps.. Microsoft flight sim would be able to run fine on One X at around 1440 to 1600p.. though some notices.(run it from an ext SSD) like most people that is running demanding games on Ps4pro or Xbox One X. It's Microsoft that ain't got the balls to separate the One X from the older One S and One.. those machines are very slow.
    Their memory bandwidth is at merely 68 Gbps-.(Xbox One) and there we have the problem.. vs One X with 326GBps. I tried both the Microsoft flight sim and Cyberpunk2077 on a Powerfull PC and how demanding they are, and if the Xbox One X can run Cyberpunk2077 at DRS 1800P 30hz, and after the latest patches it run it very well, according to users on ext SSDs that plays Cyberpunk2077 on OneX - then Microsoft flight sim. would also be able to run well on One X at around 1440 to 1600p30hz and Microsoft do know that many users are running demanding games from ext. SSD. that is also why the One X system support 3 or 4 ext. seperate SSDs at once.
    Microsoft dont wanna seperate the Xbox One/S from 2013 with the way more powerfull One X, and thats a shame in these times where people cant purchase next gen consoles.