SimHQ: Games like Microsoft’s flight simulator have benefited from the add-on market. In fact, most of the cost shelled out concerning MSFS goes to add on scenery, aircraft and airports. Modularity has created a huge market for their title. Using MSFS as an example do you see any viability in a “modular” type of sim where customers purchase a base sim and then purchase subsequent high-quality add-ons (theaters / planes)?
Steve (Battlefront): Yes, very much so. In fact, this is pretty much the same direction we are going in for the last 2 years of behind the scenes development of the successor to Combat Mission.
Rick (XSI): The modular approach is a very accommodating tool, and it is a very good example of why successful companies such as MSFS are tremendously successful. They have built an organization that allows for the integration of prosperous third party developers. With the huge costs of developing simulations from scratch, the modular add-ons definitely cater to a development team’s substantial growth, as well as allowing the entrepreneur and consumer the ability to prosper and expand as well.
Julian (XSI): Absolutely, with the high start up costs of building a simulator, add-on modules give the development team a chance to recoup some of those costs, while it gives to the consumer a simulator that continues to grow with their hardware and expand.
David (Matrix Games): This goes way back to one of the first questions. A simple way to create a cost-efficient game is to sell a low price single plane simulation and then create add-ons for low prices. I believe this is the future for companies currently caught between small budget and large budget publishing.
Nils (eSim Games): I don’t see it as long as retail sales dominate the distribution channels of computer games. With pure download distribution, that may change. It also is a question of multiplayer compatibility — I’d hate to have a simulation where I couldn’t play against other customers of the same title simply because they bought an add-on that I didn’t.
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Coming tomorrow in Part 4 of Developer’s Roundtable:
“Consoles, Controllers and Other Hardware Impact on Simulations”