How Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 will sell user-created mods and content

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

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 soon wraps its closed Alpha testing, with its long-promised closed beta currently targeting late July availability. Development on the cloud-backed showcase continues, parsing petabytes of mapping data in real-time to deliver unmatched scale and visual fidelity. The title represents Redmond's anticipated return to the genre after almost one decade, set to drop later this year.

We've witnessed an open approach to creating its next Flight Simulator, with the team steadily breaking down its world systems, and plans for the title at launch. That also comes with day-one support for third-party modding, which Microsoft has acknowledged as the series' lifeblood during its earlier absence.

Microsoft pitched a reimagined experience for mods and add-ons for Flight Simulator, offered through the game's integrated storefront. The digital marketplace aims to provide one-click installs for various content, helping creators better promote their contributions. "I'm coming more from games. It's kind of weird. I need to go to a website and drag stuff into a folder, like — odd. I'm not used to that anymore," Jorg Neumann, Microsoft Flight Simulator head, told Windows Central in 2019.

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

We already know the Microsoft Flight Simulator software development kit (SDK) is in-hand for some developers, previously touting over 150 third-party companies. We've now received a clearer understanding of how that storefront will operate via some reputable leaks.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 will feature an aptly-named "Flight Marketplace," according to @h0x0d on Twitter, a reliable source of past Microsoft leaks. The destination will feature free and paid community content, with purchases made using "Flight Coins," over a real-world currency. That's a near-identical implementation to Minecraft and its "Minecraft Marketplace" hosting community creations obtained with "Minecraft Coins." The practice creates a disconnect between the items and real-world currencies while ensuring a single global price tag.

While Microsoft has initially shared its SDK with select developers, it may soon open up contributions. In a now-deleted page on the official website, we received our first glimpse at the "Flight Simulator Partner Program," reportedly providing an avenue for partners to release content via the store. It once again shares Minecraft's proven marketplace template, which features a familiar partner application process.

It's just a glimpse into Microsoft's envisioned future for Flight Simulator 2020, helping promote third-party creations, soon more accessible to players. We've previously seen the team discuss the title not only as a game but also as a platform — with this storefront set to shake up the modding scene.

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Matt Brown

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.