Good news for Microsoft Flight Simulator fans, or at least I think it is: Dovetail Games, the Britain-based publisher of the Train Simulator (nee Railworks) series as well as Dovetail Games Fishing just managed to get its mitts on the license for Microsoft's Flight Simulator franchise. The licensing agreement gives Dovetail the right to "develop and publish all-new flight products" derived from Microsoft's technology, and Dovetail says it expects to have something new to market by next year.
What that initial piece might look like is anyone's guess, be it a standalone product or an expansion to an existing product, say a belated appendage to Microsoft Flight Simulator X -- the last generally respected simulation-grounded release Microsoft put out before its ill-fated dalliance with free-to-play.
Speaking of Flight Simulator X, Dovetail says it's also secured the rights to redistribute a version of that eight-year-old game bundled with its 2007 Acceleration expansion by way of Valve's Steam digital download service. The new version will be called simply Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition. Look for that to appear later this year, says the company.
It's not clear how Dovetail plans to adjust, development-wise, to the challenge of digging deep into the nuances of aeronautics and avionics. Trains are hardly planes, obviously, so I assume there's going to be some hire-on (perhaps ideally involving former Flight Simulator team members, though now I'm speculating wildly).
After the Microsoft Flight debacle, for me anyway, it's as simple as this: If you're going to make a simulator, then make a simulator, not something dumbed down or parceled out to broaden its appeal or sales potential. Figure out how to make ends meet by catering to the demographic that your genre, by definition, appeals to. When it comes to flight simulation, or really simulators in general, that's going to be a niche, and it'll always be a niche, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.