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Microsoft Flight Simulator targets 30 FPS on Xbox Series X|S

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

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Flight Simulator will target 30 FPS on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles, Microsoft has announced.
  • The game launches on July 27, 2021, exclusive to the latest Xbox consoles, alongside its existing PC release.

Microsoft Flight Simulator heads to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles on July 27, promising global aviation on an unmatched scale, all from the comfort of your living room. The console debut aims to translate the acclaimed PC experience, headed exclusively to Microsoft's latest machines, packing some of the best video game hardware.

But Microsoft Flight Simulator brings ambitious scale and density, among the most demanding PC games available today. It's no surprise the game is skipping Xbox One, with fast-aging hardware unlikely to deliver an adequate experience, even with serious optimization. But Microsoft has now provided an insight into Xbox Series X|S plans, including expected performance targets.

Microsoft Flight Simulator is set to achieve a 30 FPS "base framerate" with its console version, the franchise's official Twitter account has stated. However, the tweet also claims gameplay may exceed 30 FPS when hooked to variable refresh rate (VRR) displays. This technology adapts your TV or monitor refresh rate around the game, designed to eliminate screen tearing. It should, in theory, ensure a consistent experience when played on either console.

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Microsoft's proposed target might fall short of many Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S games, some even pushing 120 FPS, but it's the expected performance for the title. Unlike many of those games, Microsoft Flight Simulator's pacing rarely demands the fluidity higher performance would bring.

Microsoft Flight Simulator has also gained a reputation for its high PC system requirements, with many of the best graphics cards available struggling to maintain a high framerate at 4K resolution. While we're yet to learn target resolutions on console, we'd hope Xbox Series X falls between 1440p and 4K resolution while Xbox Series S achieves close to 1080p.

We expect to learn more about the Microsoft Flight Simulator Xbox experience over the weeks ahead, with Microsoft gearing up for a July 27, 2021 release date. The game is now available for preorder through the Microsoft Store, starting at $60, while also set to join the list of Xbox Game Pass games on the console.

Matt Brown
Matt Brown

Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Games 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.

12 Comments
  • Do we know WHY exactly can this run on the Series S but not the One X? Is the game relying mostly on CPU instead of GPU?
  • I don't know if One X could run it, but One S surely can't. And there cannot be One X-specific games.
  • I don't know that you can say it's relying mostly on the CPU, but by all accounts I've read, it's a heavily CPU dependent game. Here's a Eurogamer article from last year talking about it on PCs: https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2020-flight-simulator-... Key quote: "You see, Flight Simulator is also extremely heavy on the CPU, where scalability is far more challenging. To show the extent of the challenge, I set resolution to 540p, then created an AI flight path across New York - established as one of the most dense and challenging areas. The idea here is to isolate CPU performance, with any GPU easily capable of rendering the scene at such a low pixel count. My Ryzen 9 3900X delivers 50fps here - and it could be even worse depending on the view. What I discovered during this testing is that Flight Simulator is essentially optimised for six physical CPU cores - meaning that the SMT/hyper threading on my processor doesn't do much, if anything, while the other six cores are basically idle. This means that single core performance is key and Intel processors have a big advantage here." Apparently the sim has had additional optimizations on the PC since this article to improve multicore performance, but it's still an issue where the performance of the Ryzen CPU cores in the Xbox Series X|S CPU are way above what the old Xbox One/One X Jaguar cores can achieve.
  • Hardware stats aside, the simple fact that it's impossible to release for One X without also releasing for One S means that they can't put this on One X at all. I think that's the bigger reason here honestly.
  • ???
    How so?
    The SS has the exact same CPU as the SX just slightly underclocked and as the cited article above pointed out, frame rate performance on this game (if not many--withness the large number of FPS Boost games) is CPU dependent, not GPU or resolution dependent. Indeed, for most games of the current generation the SS keeps pace with SX by simply giving up render resolution and making it up with upscaling at display time. Given the, by now, proven effectiveness of advanced image reconstruction scaling the choice is looking wiser by the minute. The emerging rule of thumb seems to be that CPU bottlenecks frame rate, GPU bottlenecks resolution, and memory bandwidth bottlenecks environment/stage size/complexity. Assuming competent, experienced coding, of course. The latter being the most limited given how early it is in the console generation and the rawness of tools.
  • Yeah, I think CPU what what I remember hearing. I played it on my laptop with a 1060 in it and I maintained a solid frame rate until I hit a lot of buildings on the ground and then it tanked.
  • If you bought the PC version, can the series x version use the same key, so you dont pay twice?
  • I guess we will find out. Did you buy from the Windows Store?
  • Yes I did
  • It wasn't advertised as an Xbox Play Anywhere title, but that was probably because the console release wouldn't be ready for months when the PC version became available.
    The Store pages for the PC editions are still PC-only, but the main product page for the Xbox edition shows PC+Xbox (https://www.microsoft.com/store/productId/9NRRJLLXM68V), so it seems they might be doing the right thing, unlike what they did with Halo MCC.
  • I think they couldn't do MCC because of the APIs if I remember right. At least they got most of the save synching and achievements to act like it is XPA even though it isn't.
  • I believe it's purely a financial decision because they decided to create the PC version much later and enabling Play Anywhere would make it more difficult to reach return on investment of the PC version as lot of customers would get it for free (as in "already paid for Xbox version").
    Apps and games packages in the Store can be different for different types of devices and CPUs, while sharing a single SKU. I think it's possible to provide a Win32 app for PCs and a UWP lightweight version for Xbox, yet another one for Hololens, etc... if they want to.
    Even if that wasn't possible, they can also be different product but give a 100% discount to owners of another product, Xbox 360 backward compatibility titles automatically get licensed to you if you own the digital Xbox 360 version, so making us pay twice is not a technical limitation.