Microsoft Flight Simulator makes its debut on August 18, and if those cloud-backed promises hold weight, it's set to be a disruptive new entry to the virtual aviation scene. Tapping into Microsoft's cloud empire, the title leverages satellite mapping, artificial intelligence, and various supplementary data, eyeing a full digital replica of planet Earth. We've also seen preorders go live exclusively through Windows 10's integrated Microsoft Store, spanning three flavors, from $60 through $120.
But with Microsoft Flight Simulator on sale just weeks before launch, the publisher still hasn't talked a release through other storefronts — namely the world's most prominent, Steam. That follows several high-profile Microsoft-published franchises recently making the jump on day one, including Gears 5, Halo, and Age of Empires for PC.
We also saw Microsoft publicly commit to bringing its future library to Steam, as a part of an extensive manifesto from executive vice-president of Gaming at Microsoft, Phil Spencer, back in 2019. "With that in mind, our intent is to make our Xbox Game Studios PC games available in multiple stores, including our own Microsoft Store on Windows, at their launch," it stated. "We believe you should have choice in where you buy your PC games."
And while Microsoft isn't ruling out Microsoft Flight Simulator on Steam for the future, it appears the initial launch will focus on that Windows 10 version. "We have nothing new to share regarding additional versions, but our goal is to have 'Microsoft Flight Simulator' available on as many platforms as possible," a Microsoft spokesperson told Windows Central.
The strategy marks a departure from Microsoft's recent approach it PC releases, with many seeing simultaneous availability on the Windows Store, alongside Steam. It also means that, unlike many recent Xbox Game Studios titles, support for Windows 7 and Windows 8 appears out of the picture. The exact reasoning remains unclear, but don't stay hopeful for things to change before launch day.
The Legend Returns
Prepare for take-off.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 takes to the skies on August 18, promising a cloud-powered globe, with authenticity on an unmatched scale. It's headed exclusively to Windows 10 PCs, with preorders now live in three flavors.
Flight sim accessories
Into flight simulation games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, Ace Combat, Elite Dangerous, or Star Wars Squadrons? You'll want to check out these accessories.
Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS (Xbox, PC) ($80 at Amazon)
As one of the only flight sticks available for Xbox One, this is your best option for taking to the skies in style.
Thrustmaster 2960778 T.16000M (PC) ($160 at Amazon)
If you want to get more serious with your flight on PC, this is your best bet.
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Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is a demanding game and it needs quite the PC to run it comfortably. If you don't have a PC yet dedicated to gaming, you'll want to pick from one of these to really bring the cockpit to life.