Microsoft Flight Simulator Xbox launch time: When you can play, download size, and more

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Diamond DA 40
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Diamond DA 40 (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft Flight Simulator soon arrives on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, porting its groundbreaking virtual aviation to consoles one year after the PC debut. The game brings the same cloud-powered globetrotting experience to Microsoft's newest consoles, leveraging satellite imagery, artificial intelligence, and geospatial data. The result is an incredible digital replica of planet Earth, replicated down individual buildings and trees.

The Xbox release brings the complete PC experience to the living room, from world-famous landmarks or checking your neighborhood from up high. The console release condenses the whole experience to a standard controller, with rock-solid performance on both consoles, as detailed via our Microsoft Flight Simulator Xbox review. Microsoft even made this release its most accessible entry to date, but with depth also available to accommodate even the most diehard aviators.

The new Microsoft Flight Simulator is almost here on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, albeit with a later-than-usual launch time, plus some things to consider before taking to the skies. Here's what you need to know.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Xbox release date

Microsoft Flight Simulator launches on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on July 27, following its PC debut in August 2020. However, the new Xbox port unlocks at different times depending on your observed time zone, meaning those in Australia and New Zealand will experience the title from early on July 28.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Xbox launch times

Microsoft Flight Simulator has a July 27 release date on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, marking its anticipated expansion to home consoles. The title sees a universal rollout on the latest Xbox console family, with the title set to launch at the same point in time for all regions. Microsoft has opted to drop the title later on Tuesday, unlike many video game releases that unlock at midnight in your respective time zone.

The new Microsoft Flight Simulator launches on Xbox at 3 p.m. UTC for all users, including those with a preorder via the Xbox store or an Xbox Game Pass subscription. It remains unclear whether those with the physical disc-based version of Microsoft Flight Simulator for Xbox Series X can access the game before this time lock.

That universal release means availability varies depending on your location, with the title unlocking early in the morning in the U.S. but later as you move eastward. The complete list of Microsoft Flight Simulator launch times follows for various time zones across the world.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Region/time zoneTime
Los Angeles (PDT)8:00 a.m. (July 27)
New York (EDT)11:00 a.m. (July 27)
Brasilia (BRT)12:00 p.m. (July 27)
London (BST)4:00 p.m. (July 27)
Paris (CEST)5:00 p.m. (July 27)
Cape Town (SAST)5:00 p.m. (July 27)
Moscow (MSK)6:00 p.m. (July 27)
Singapore (SGT)11:00 p.m. (July 27)
Tokyo (JST)12:00 a.m. (July 28)
Canberra (AEST)1:00 a.m. (July 28)
Wellington (NZST)3:00 a.m. (July 28)

Microsoft Flight Simulator unlocks for all at 3 p.m. UTC, at which point players should restart their consoles to ensure the game is playable.

Microsoft Flight Simulator preload and download size

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft has launched Microsoft Flight Simulator preloads for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, providing the opportunity to download the title before the July 27 release. The download eliminates the wait on release day, ensuring you hit the runway on schedule. The preload is accessible via My Games & Apps on your Xbox console, available to those with Xbox store preorders and all Xbox Game Pass subscribers.

Microsoft Flight Simulator clocks in at 97.2 GB on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, taking up a large chunk of storage on either system. Those tight on space can reduce the size to 42.4 GB by removing the "Offline Mode" pack, an optional installation that downloads a basic world map, alleviating the always-online requirement for the game. It generally won't impact those with a stable internet connection. However, the game will be unplayable if day-one server issues or future Xbox Live outages occur.

We also recommend expanding your Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S storage, providing a much-needed expansion to devices notoriously tight on drive space. The best hard drives for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S start at relatively affordable prices, with speedier SSDs also available that closely match internal storage.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Xbox 'Day One Update'

Microsoft Flight Simulator Xtra330

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Unfortunately, it does seem like Microsoft Flight Simulator for Xbox has a day one update players will need to install before playing, even if you preloaded or preinstalled the game before hand. If only the "online mode" is installed on your console, the day one update should be about 18.39 GB, while those with the full game installed will have to download a larger update at about 27 GB.

Is Microsoft Flight Simulator coming to Xbox One?

Microsoft Flight Simulator targets Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S for this latest release, with no plans for an Xbox One version at this time. The title, CPU intensive, leverages one of the most significant advancements of the new system. Its onboard solid-state drive (SSD) only further streamlines performance over the aging Xbox One family. With Xbox One systems sporting hardware first brought to market in 2013, it's little surprise that Microsoft's most intensive title to date skipped the older generation.

Microsoft has implied the game could join its Xbox cloud gaming offerings later, potentially opening the experience to mobile devices and older Xbox consoles. However, the existing version remains exclusive to those with Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S.

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.