Microsoft Flight Simulator now available on Xbox Cloud Gaming

Microsoft Flight Simulator now available on Xbox Cloud Gaming

by Lily White
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Microsoft and Asobo Studio have launched Microsoft Flight Simulator on Xbox Cloud Gaming. Now, one of the most technically impressive titles is playable on mobile and even Xbox One.

Last year, Microsoft launched Xbox Cloud Gaming on Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One. The initiative to bring the power of the cloud to consoles meant that players could have the option to jump in and play a title without the need for an installation or software update. Alongside the announcement, it was revealed that Microsoft Flight Simulator would be arriving on Xbox Cloud Gaming. That moment has arrived.

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Subscribers of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Microsoft’s $16.99/month service, will get access to Xbox Cloud Gaming. Through this service, Microsoft Flight Simulator is now available to play and experience. Asobo Studio first launched the title in 2020 on PC before porting it to Xbox Series X. It’s been acclaimed for its deep mechanics and innovative use of Microsoft Azure. Though it was once reserved for more powerful hardware, Xbox Cloud Gaming integration means Xbox One and mobile players can now take to the skies.

Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator Jorg Neumann sat down with us to discuss the exciting launch for cloud gaming. From the outset, bringing the flight sim title to the cloud and launching it on other platforms seems like a daunting task. However, for Asobo, it was a rather straightforward process.

“Honestly, it was remarkably easy,” says Neumann. Typically, you put like six months or a year to do a port with a lot of people. In this case, I think we have one programmer and our UI artist part-time just to make some changes.”

Asobo Studio has been utilizing Microsoft Azure and AI technology to generate unbelievably photorealistic depictions of cities and vistas. Buildings, trees, and natural terrain are all rendered accurately thanks to cloud technology. Though, one major talking point whenever cloud gaming comes up is stability. Connection speeds are always a concern. Microsoft Flight Simulator, while a complex title is said to be fully optimized, even on 10mbps connections. Neumann assured me that low-powered devices can “run the sim at 1080p at 30FPS.”

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Xbox Series X/S titles such as Recompile, The Medium, and The Riftbreaker have also become playable on Xbox Cloud Gaming. While these are current-gen exclusives, none are as technically demanding as Microsoft Flight Simulator. It was impressive to see Microsoft Flight Simulator come to Xbox Series X/S without major concessions to fidelity or gameplay. Though now, players on last-gen hardware can stay in the conversation and play the sim they are otherwise unable to experience thanks to the cloud.

Bringing Microsoft Flight Simulator to Xbox Cloud Gaming is only the latest update in the growing amount of ongoing support. Since its launch, the title has seen numerous World Updates, adding real-time snow and environments. Numerous regions around the world now see Photogrammetry support. Microsoft Flight Simulator also has the Top Gun: Maverick expansion due in May. Each update has the potential to add four to 10GB, totalling around 150GB. Xbox Cloud Gaming ensured that Asobo could simplify the backend process.

“Instead of having to download all the World Updates yourself, we actually already put them up into the cloud,” says Neumann. “For example, [the update which includes] Germany, Austria, Switzerland, is already there for the player. They don’t have to sit there and have yet another download. It’s the goal to have people start and then 15 to 30 seconds they’re in the sim flying around the world.”

When discussing whether new ecosystems impacts impact future support, Neumann looks at Xbox Cloud Gaming as “a new platform.” With Microsoft Flight Simulator now on mobile, the team is looking to improve UI and functionality. Neumann states that a touch overlay system is being worked on. “We have not implemented this yet, but we will,” the studio head said. Flight stick support is in development as well.

“I think it’s good, it’s very mind-opening; I really feel like now, I’m no longer constrained by the hardware. It really just comes down to our own creativity and what we’d want to do and how we approach it. It has almost no limits.”

Neumann and his team are also taking notice of the possibilities and benefits outside of gaming.

“Pilots use Flight Sim a lot, actually. When you talk to people flying around air buses and Boeings in the world. When they don’t fly or when they can’t get to a big simulator, they actually fly in Flight Sim just to keep their skills up.” Rather than have to be at a dedicated piece of hardware, these tools are now within reach within their pockets.

Working with Xbox Cloud Gaming has left Neumann feeling optimistic about how this platform can grow and evolve. He seems adamant to see more developers take the plunge and check out the possibilities.

“I can say for any developer out there, it looks scary. Like the cloud and what is all that? It really is simple. The team did a good job preparing APIs that make it easy to understand. I believe every game will come to the cloud eventually. I really do.”

Xbox Cloud Gaming is available on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Android, and Mobile. It is available in Canada as well as in a variety of other countries.

Image credit: Xbox

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