SimHQ: Final question for you to ponder. For the last six or seven years people have predicted the ultimate death of the simulation genre. Where do you see simulations in 3 years? 5 years? Do you see yourself retiring making simulation games or will you have to switch to something more lucrative?
Chris (Lead Pursuit): Reports of the death of the simulation have been greatly exaggerated. 2005 has led to a fresh batch of releases. Long may that continue. Things happen in cycles. People tire of one particular genre and try another. Then they tire of that and go back to something else.
Nils (eSim Games): They’ll live on. Developers, I think, have the responsibility to make their new titles accessible enough to draw fresh blood into the communities — or, in marketing lingo, develop new customer groups. And accessibility goes beyond large options screens to scale realism options to the customer’s wishes. In fact, huge options screens may actually be the problem. They’re the easy way out of making tough design decisions by not making design decisions at all.
Design should follow clear principles, because they make better games. And that’s what it’s all about: Good entertainment for people with a big cranium and an interest in technology.
David (Matrix Games): I think simulations are already making a comeback as advanced graphics become more affordable. I believe simulations will never reach their once lofty positions but will maintain a loyal and steady fan base.
Rick (XSI): I believe you need to be extremely rational with very realistic expectations; the cost of future flight simulations will be much more costly than run of the mill games. Developers are continuously adjusting their market strategies by cutting back on needless development costs, and are constantly searching for new ways to make profits without having to sell at such high volume. With that comes new ways in exploring cost-effective strategies that can help make flight sim developments profitable enough to sustain them into the future. It’s our community, and if we are wise with our decisions, we can help save this genre from an uncertain death.
Julian (XSI): I honestly don’t believe the simulation genre will die. There is always going to be a market for people who want to simulate flight, or driving a Formula 1 car or whatever it may be. I don’t see consoles ever completely fulfilling the requirements of those who want to be on the cutting edge simply due to the fact that they are not able to evolve with new technologies beyond the distinct generations of console. Who knows though, consoles continue to become more and more like PC’s, maybe someone will start releasing hardware graphics or CPU upgrades for them, that would lead to a very interesting conundrum where you’ve now recreated the very monster that consoles were supposed to get away from. In summary though, I think the next 5 years will be interesting. I’d be more towards predicting a rebirth of sims rather than the death of them. Maybe not back to the level of 7 or 8 years ago, but I think as the size of the online market starts to be realized, more developers will start to break the mold of the “conventional” development/publishing model and simulators will become much more viable. I’m certainly looking forward to it.
Steve (Battlefront): I think that sim fans should accept the thought that the genre will go pretty much the same route that wargames went a few years ago and arcade type games went before them and text adventures before them, and simple pong type games before that, etc.
Martin (Battlefront): The big mainstream publishers are shying away from what they see as time and money sinks, while the gold is lying on the street in other genres (perhaps even some kind of hybrid genres that have yet to be invented). You will no doubt see more and more independent devs self-publish their games, much like we do (for our games, and for others).
Rick (XSI): I would really like to take this opportunity and thank the wonderful staff at SimHQ for including XSI in this fantastic round table discussion. You have amazed and inspired many real pilots, aviation enthusiasts and flight simmers from all over the world, you have sustained and encouraged this wonderful hobby of ours for many years, and hopefully many more years to come. You are unquestionably a big part of the sensation behind many of the successful flight sim products. I would also like to thank the hard working international team behind XSI Fighter Ops, if it wasn’t for their continued vision and support for this difficult undertaken, I would not be representing my thoughts and opinions at this round table meeting.
Julian (XSI): Thank you for the opportunity, SimHQ is certainly a leader in creating interesting discussions in an intelligent manner. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to put my thoughts on the table, for what they are worth, and will be very interested to see the discussion that comes out of this article.
SimHQ: And we would like to thank you all for your participation in this roundtable, and doing what you do to further our hobby. We think this roundtable discussion will be very beneficial for the simulation community and we hope everyone has a successful sim year!
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Special thanks to Tom “WKLINK” Cofield for coordinating this series.