The final model of Microsoft Flight Simulator got here out in 2006. Many, myself included, had written the franchise off for lifeless. Now it’s again, due out for PC and Xbox One in 2020, with a complicated set of property pulled straight from satellite tv for pc imagery on Bing. Earlier this month I traveled to Seattle for a hands-on demonstration of the brand new Microsoft Flight Simulator. Later, I sat down with Jorg Neumann, head of Microsoft Flight Simulator, to reply the query: Why now?

“I think there’s probably two answers to the question,” Neumann informed me. “One is more of a corporate answer; Phil got promoted.”

Phil refers to Phil Spencer, who has been head of Xbox at Microsoft since 2014. But, in 2018, there was a little bit of restructuring inside Microsoft. Now Spencer reports directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. That means gaming is extra vital to the software program big than ever earlier than. As a outcome, Microsoft determined to plant its flag as soon as once more contained in the world of PC gaming.

“With that [promotion] comes a a totally different view on gaming at Microsoft,” Neumann stated. “We had Xbox. It’s profitable. But […] we needed to carry again the PC video games that we had for the hundreds of thousands of people that cherished them. So, we restarted Age [of Empires] and we restarted Flight. Those have been the 2 huge pillars to return into true PC gaming.”

The solely query for Harrison and his new friends at Microsoft was if the expertise was there to help the funding. Thankfully, whereas HoloLens didn’t find yourself being a viable client product, it did get the wheels turning.

Neumann factors to 1 demo particularly, known as HoloTour, as straight inspiring the strategy his staff is taking with Flight Simulator.

HoloTour permits customers to expertise locations like Rome and Machu Picchu from the consolation of their very own properties. The expertise was so impactful for Neumann that he was sure the identical form of strategy might be utilized to Microsoft Flight Simulator. More importantly, it helped his staff re-imagine a hardcore simulation expertise into one thing that even most people may get enthusiastic about.

“It makes Flight Sim purposeful for people who find themselves not into simply the tech,” Neumann stated. “All of a sudden you want to go to places, and the places look real. And that’s now possible, and it’s awesome.”

To hear Neumann inform it, Microsoft Flight Simulator is as a lot about studying to fly as it’s about having the ability to journey the world with out ever leaving residence.

“This is the planet we live on,” he continued. “You end up really loving it, and I think seeing it through the eyes from the plane is an amazing view. And I think that’s why, that’s why I think [our demo at E3] resonated so much, and that’s why we’re doing this.”