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skyguy04

X-plane 10 - True contender or just status quo

24 posts in this topic

Let me first start out by saying that i am a huge fan of X-plane.  I want to see X-plane shine above all others!

What concerns me is that not enough money is being invested in it.  It seems that Austin, i mean Laminar Research, is afraid of taking the risks necessary to be #1.  Over the last few years, they have had a VERY RARE opportunity to take X-plane and run with it.  MS shut down their FSX development team and left X-plane pretty much the only contender on the market with any potential.  Why not take out a huge loan and RUN with it?!?!  Hire lots of developers, invest in marketing, invest in everything else necessary to be #1.  Step up X-plane 10 development and truly make leaps and bounds towards being THE next generation flight simulator.

Instead, it appears to me that Austin and those involved are content filling small niche markets like android apps, ipad apps, and riding on the coat tails of their simulated wind tunnel technology.

Let me ask one question... What happens if MS Flight includes a similar (maybe better) wind tunnel simulator on top of all the other stuff:

Persistent world MMO style

Usage of the "cloud" idea (ie. more server resources and less client-side requirements)

Amazing graphics

Amazing weather

Amazing tools for aircraft and scenery developers

etc.

How hard do you think it would be for them to make apps for android, ipad, etc.  Would they even bother?

Does Laminar Research really consider X-plane the best simulator on the market?  Do they even want to compete with MS?

It just concerns me when i see statements like: "Just some TEENY little tweaks and enhancements to make v9.xx perfect:"

I don't consider X-plane to be "perfect".  Honestly, I see x-plane stuck in neutral and a very weak contender for MS to snuff out.  There is NO sign of Laminar Research making strides to be THE best simulator on the market.  IMHO, a HUGE opportunity has been missed.

At the very least, INVEST in some heavy marketing.  It will help on all fronts including bringing in some much needed revenue on all existing products.

Just my 2-cents. 

EDIT:

Let me just say one more thing…

Austin,

I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but let’s just say I am a project manager and also a developer.  I know all too well the challenges associated with relinquishing control of a delopment project that you consider “your baby”.  I may be completely wrong about this, but as an outsider looking in, it appears that you are afraid of relinquishing control.  In order for “your baby” to soar, you have to surround yourself with good people and let them work.  Stand back and let them surprise you.  It’s the only way to succeed.

Good luck my friend.  I truly want to see X-plane soar above all others!

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Your message (a reasonable one, I might add) seems to address Austin directly. There's an underlying assumption, then, that Austin reads this forum.  I don't see any definitive evidence to support such an assumption.

If you want him to see your message, email him.

I agree that the lull in MSFS development represented a huge opportunity to capture a portion of the msfs market, hungry for new development. All it would take is:

- an investment in some terminal scenery and landmarks for the major fields around the world (lots of work, but of finite complexity, and can be farmed out to a massive number of scenery developers).

- development of some high quality stock aircraft with 3d cockpits and a working FMS.

An extraordinary number of MSFS users would come running over to the new platform if these were in place.

The question would be, will Austin make more money in this model, taking into account the development cost of those two features?

IPhone/Android sales are not a 'niche' market. I've been working with a guy that runs a software company that, up until recently, was focused on console development...but is now shifting to the mobile platforms.  Mobile is seeing MASSIVE adoption rates, and opening up an entirely new market for game developers, well outside the demographic of the typical 'gamer' market.

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Your concerns are seriously unfounded, way off base and indicate a vast amount of ignorance of what is going on.

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Your message (a reasonable one, I might add) seems to address Austin directly. There's an underlying assumption, then, that Austin reads this forum.  I don't see any definitive evidence to support such an assumption.

If you want him to see your message, email him.

I agree that the lull in MSFS development represented a huge opportunity to capture a portion of the msfs market, hungry for new development. All it would take is:

- an investment in some terminal scenery and landmarks for the major fields around the world (lots of work, but of finite complexity, and can be farmed out to a massive number of scenery developers).

- development of some high quality stock aircraft with 3d cockpits and a working FMS.

An extraordinary number of MSFS users would come running over to the new platform if these were in place.

The question would be, will Austin make more money in this model, taking into account the development cost of those two features?

IPhone/Android sales are not a 'niche' market. I've been working with a guy that runs a software company that, up until recently, was focused on console development...but is now shifting to the mobile platforms.  Mobile is seeing MASSIVE adoption rates, and opening up an entirely new market for game developers, well outside the demographic of the typical 'gamer' market.

Thanks for the reply Keith.  I guess what i meant by Iphone/Android apps being a niche market, is they don't really address the primary users.  I see X-plane as a simulator for real pilots, flight schools etc.  They sell keys that enable flight schools to build an FAA certified simulator.  The iphone/android apps allow you to fly an airplane on your phone.  Hardly the same market....

You could argue that Laminar Research is trying to market to ALL people that will pay money to use their product.  Ie. Be all things to all people.  Well, if that's the case, common sense would tell you that you have a real possibility of being mediocre in all markets.  The only way any company could pull that off is to invest some SERIOUS resources to development and marketing.  I don't see that.  Ask the average person if they have ever heard of X-plane and they will tell you no.  Ask them if they have heard of MSFS, and they will say yep!  If X-plane is trying to be all things to all people, shouldn't the average person know of it's existence?

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I concur with Tom.

+1. Kind of important considering he's on the development team for Laminar.

Thanks for the reply Keith.  I guess what i meant by Iphone/Android apps being a niche market, is they don't really address the primary users.  I see X-plane as a simulator for real pilots, flight schools etc.  They sell keys that enable flight schools to build an FAA certified simulator.  The iphone/android apps allow you to fly an airplane on your phone.  Hardly the same market....

You could argue that Laminar Research is trying to market to ALL people that will pay money to use their product.  Ie. Be all things to all people.  Well, if that's the case, common sense would tell you that you have a real possibility of being mediocre in all markets.  The only way any company could pull that off is to invest some SERIOUS resources to development and marketing.  I don't see that.  Ask the average person if they have ever heard of X-plane and they will tell you no.  Ask them if they have heard of MSFS, and they will say yep!  If X-plane is trying to be all things to all people, shouldn't the average person know of it's existence?

Given all you have said, I'm going to give myself the "okay" to say you have no idea as to what really is going on at Laminar. At the same time, I don't fault you entirely for it. I suppose as someone who is heavy on the development side and "in bed" with more of the Laminar people, I would be more educated in the matter. AND, with that said...I'm not sure Austin cares that everyone know his financial situation when it comes to the sim...

Marketing was the task of previous firms who published. The contract was always for them to do it. Whether they did the job, I have no idea, but I do know that the sim ended up in many, many more stores than it ever used to. Wal Mart being one, but from what I gather that's probably the last time that will ever happen again.

I don't want to be the one that lets out "all the bits," but the Laminar team is now very large from what it ever used to be. It's not the mom and pop development firm anymore, and Austin isn't the only one at the core. There's now numerous programmers, numerous tasks, and a plethora of 3D designers, texture artists, etc. If you only knew the costs involved to produce what is soon to be "X-Plane 10" then I'm sure you'd change your tune a bit.

Over and onward...

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Your concerns are seriously unfounded, way off base and indicate a vast amount of ignorance of what is going on.

You make some accusations without backing them up with any real information.  Your whole post is 1 sentance....

I'm simply concerned that Laminar Research is not investing enough in marketing and development.  Unless you are already a user of X-plane, can you honestly say that they are investing money in marketing the coming of X-plane 10?

A) They give the impression that their development team is very small.  Can you argue that?

:) Their marketing is minimal.  Can you argue that?

C) They give the impression that their focus is all over the place.  Patching 9.xx, iphone apps, android apps, etc.  What is their real market?  

If I was a scenery developer or an aircraft developer, i'd be really concerned about building anything for X-plane because they have no focus.  In fact, given all of the points above, i wouldn't want to risk my company on a product that appears to be all over the place.  For example:  They have to support their product.  In x-plane, they would be fielding questions like, "This Bonanza V35 i just bought works on my PC but not on my android phone".   See the dilemma?

So although i welcome your comments, i would like a serious response and not a 1 sentance accusation that i'm an idiot.

Thanks!

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You make some accusations without backing them up with any real information.  Your whole post is 1 sentance....

You do realize he works for Laminar...don't you?

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I concur with Tom.

+1. Kind of important considering he's on the development team for Laminar.

Thanks for the reply Keith.  I guess what i meant by Iphone/Android apps being a niche market, is they don't really address the primary users.  I see X-plane as a simulator for real pilots, flight schools etc.  They sell keys that enable flight schools to build an FAA certified simulator.  The iphone/android apps allow you to fly an airplane on your phone.  Hardly the same market....

You could argue that Laminar Research is trying to market to ALL people that will pay money to use their product.  Ie. Be all things to all people.  Well, if that's the case, common sense would tell you that you have a real possibility of being mediocre in all markets.  The only way any company could pull that off is to invest some SERIOUS resources to development and marketing.  I don't see that.  Ask the average person if they have ever heard of X-plane and they will tell you no.  Ask them if they have heard of MSFS, and they will say yep!  If X-plane is trying to be all things to all people, shouldn't the average person know of it's existence?

Given all you have said, I'm going to give myself the "okay" to say you have no idea as to what really is going on at Laminar. At the same time, I don't fault you entirely for it. I suppose as someone who is heavy on the development side and "in bed" with more of the Laminar people, I would be more educated in the matter. AND, with that said...I'm not sure Austin cares that everyone know his financial situation when it comes to the sim...

Marketing was the task of previous firms who published. The contract was always for them to do it. Whether they did the job, I have no idea, but I do know that the sim ended up in many, many more stores than it ever used to. Wal Mart being one, but from what I gather that's probably the last time that will ever happen again.

I don't want to be the one that lets out "all the bits," but the Laminar team is now very large from what it ever used to be. It's not the mom and pop development firm anymore, and Austin isn't the only one at the core. There's now numerous programmers, numerous tasks, and a plethora of 3D designers, texture artists, etc. If you only knew the costs involved to produce what is soon to be "X-Plane 10" then I'm sure you'd change your tune a bit.

Over and onward...

Thank you for the reply.  This is exactly the type of information i am looking for.  

You are probably right.  I may not know what is going at Laminar Research.  But that is exactly my point.  I have been a user of X-plane for a very long time.  I read x-plane.org, x-pilot.com, and Ben Supnik's blog just about every morning when i get to work.  I am constantly looking for information regarding improvements to my favorite sim.  So, you could say I'm way more "in-tune" than the average user.  

However, if you think that everyone should invest the same amount of time that i do in reading all of these forums, blog posts, news articles, etc., then I am 100% dead on with my original concern!

I am a 29 year old private pilot who also happens to be a project manager in charge of a small team of web developers, programmers, marketing people, content writers, etc.  The only reason i'm as engaged as i am is because i'm in front of a computer every day, all day.  85% of the guys in my flying club are not.  However, 50% of them are semi-tech savvy and would be interested in having a home flight simulator.  If they were aware of even an ounce of hype about X-plane (TV ad, article in PC mag, article in PC Gamer, coverage on G4 TV, ANYTHING!), they would all go out and buy it.  Just like i'm sure they will all go buy MS Flight as soon as it comes out.  And just an FYI, they are all familiar with that title's up-coming release.  

So... to those that say i'm an idiot and I don't know what i'm talking about, what do you have to say about those who are familiar with MS Flight and not X-plane?  Keep in mind that MS was not even in the game for the past 3 years!  IMHO, they have done minimal as well.... Just wait until they start ramping up....

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However, if you think that everyone should invest the same amount of time that i do in reading all of these forums, blog posts, news articles, etc., then I am 100% dead on with my original concern!

The focus right now internally is to get the core of the product done, compile it together, and share it with the world. I'm sure you'll see some heavy marketing in due time. Just today I read an article with an interview from Austin about X-Plane 10. Right now, it's all about updating the current X-Plane user base as to what's going on.

(TV ad, article in PC mag, article in PC Gamer, coverage on G4 TV, ANYTHING!), they would all go out and buy it.  Just like i'm sure they will all go buy MS Flight as soon as it comes out.  And just an FYI, they are all familiar with that title's up-coming release.

Not sure about TV ads...not sure Austin cares for them, and frankly, I wouldn't either. That said, I have seen X-Plane in PLENTY of magazines ad wise, and I have also seen it covered on TV with an interview from Austin...G4 was the channel I believe, actually.  

So... to those that say i'm an idiot and I don't know what i'm talking about, what do you have to say about those who are familiar with MS Flight and not X-plane?

I didn't put you in the idiot bandwagon, but I put you in the misinformed one. However, you asked what anyone would have to say...my response is simple. It's Microsoft.

And, lastly...you had talk about the iPad/iPhone/Android development. Believe it or not, this has probably been the BEST move yet by Laminar. The amount of people who came flocking for the desktop version after seeing these apps is HUGE.

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So... to those that say i'm an idiot and I don't know what i'm talking about

I did not call you an idiot, you are simply ignorant of what is going on inside laminar.  Ignorance indicates a lack of knowledge, nothing more...it's usage has been bastardized by others...I am ignorant of lots of things myself.    I'm sure you are quite intelligent and smart and you're writing was very well worded in that it clearly conveyed your "concern", "observations" and "opinions".  I wish others would write just as clearly.

We're dealing with a philosophical approach here.  "hype" is not what we do...."deliver" is what we do.  There are those that may argue, but this is a fact and that is that the x-plane market has grown steadily since the day it was introduced and is growing at a phenomenal rate.   We will begin marketing when we have marketable materials to market.

The public all sees the same information, but others do not gather what you gather nor conclude what you conclude.  We can't help that...but I can say that there is not a single concern that you mentioned that is not being addressed.  If you think we should be marketing more, well then...that's just a tactical difference we have I guess.  Rest assured, lots of money, talent, time and work are going into making x-plane 10 and beyond a really cool sim.  X-plane 10 will lay a final foundation (the DSF / object 8 was the first) to build upon.  X-Plane 10 will have much more scenery, but still not as much as MSFS due to its maturity; however, we ARE building easier tools to make scenery for the community than MSFS had and we hope that the community will help build the x-plane world.  "Give a man a fish, you feed him for one meal,  Teach a man to fish and you feed him his whole life".  I'm sorry if you took offense to my comment, it was not intended.

-Tom

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You make some accusations without backing them up with any real information.  Your whole post is 1 sentance....

You do realize he works for Laminar...don't you?

I didn't, but i do now.  Nice to meet you Tom.  I appreciate you taking the time to respond.  

That doesn't change what i posted.  IMHO, in order for X-plane to be #1, this whole attitude you've got to know everyone's userID, have 1000+ posts, and be the most "in-the-know" person, has got to change.  That, in it self, is a problem.

I'm glad that Laminar is no longer the mom and pop shop.  I know that several developers have been hired recently.  I've followed Ben's blog when he introduced the new ATC developer that was brought on.  I thought that was great!  The only reason i knew that was because i'm a regular reader of Ben's blog.  Why was that not marketed?  

What is currently being done for marketing is sub-par, when is should be top notch.  Release a freaking video or something about the "coming of X-plane 10".  Don't make people dig for information.  The average person does not have time for that.

BTW, I appreciate those keeping this topic on the subject of bringing more awareness to X-plane.  I realize this topic may be controversial, but i am truly after trying to address the topic of making sure x-plane succeeds as the #1 simulator on the market.  

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That doesn't change what i posted.  IMHO, in order for X-plane to be #1, this whole attitude you've got to know everyone's userID, have 1000+ posts, and be the most "in-the-know" person, has got to change.  That, in it self, is a problem.

Dude...you're kidding right? I asked you that after it's already been MENTIONED earlier in the thread that he's a part of Laminar...my question was basically "Are you even reading all the posts that are up here in response to your topic in detail?" If you were, you'd realize he was with Laminar. It has nothing to do with knowing ANYONE's user ID.

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"here, try this new game i got on my phone today for $10... it lets you fly stuff, just twist the phone around and try not to crash..."

<insert 5 minutes of laughter here>

"hey, i got this new "flight simulator" ... come around to my place one night and i'll set up my joystick, teach you what 10 buttons do, try and help you fly for a bit and you can see if you cant crash, but if you want a copy of it for yourself you'll have to wait two weeks+ for postage as you cant buy it online and i cant copy it for you."

'whats a flight simulator?'

"it lets you play a game where you fly around..."

'does it let me shoot stuff?'

"no... its more about teaching real pilots"

'yeah id rather watch LOST, thanks anyway.'

....Yep, iOS was a really bad marketing move.

In this, the day of social networking and viral advertising, you advocate, what, advertising in a printed magazine that costs me $15+ to buy?

Advertising on TV that no one in the demographic even watches? ... and if they do, it's probably a rip, or an itunes copy of the series with no ads in it anyway.

Blogs, youtube and -in your face- mobile gaming and content is exactly where it's at.

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Ok, well I can admit when i'm wrong.  It appears that i may be wrong.  Thank you for taking the time to respond.  I really do appreciate it.  

If all of what you (all) say is true, then I have nothing to worry about.  I hope that's the case!  I look forward to flying in X-plane for many years to come!

Take care.

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One final thing I'll say...with regards to you comments on marketing.  We don't have enough material yet to market..at least not in one place.  Right now, we are like "sub-contractors" where we all have our "bits and pieces" and none of that has been pulled together for final assembly...and final assembly is where the marketing materials will come from.  Showing bits and pieces is not sexy....so when the time is right, the marketing will come!

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....Yep, iOS was a really bad marketing move.

Ben,

I didn't say iOS was a really bad marketing move.  I expressed concern that it introduced some serious scope creep.  Scope creep is a result of lack of focus.  If you lack focus, you can bet that others will pass you by. 

I am well aware of the value of social media, viral marketing, and word of mouth.  They are THE BEST forms of marketing.  However...  If creating an iOS app delays the release of your core product so much that when it's released, it's not even a competitor in the market, then you should be worried.  I hope that's not the case here. 

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The scope creep of iOS was addressed at length in Ben S' blog, the masses were rather vocal in their concerns on this issue.

A good iOS game is a license to print money.

The risk of porting to iOS with Apples full support and guidance thrown at you to make it happen

vs

The risk of taking out a "huge loan" in the middle of the GFC when one of the worlds biggest and best Marketing companies has just canned their entire competing division...

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If you lack focus, you can bet that others will pass you by.  

I totally agree, but this is where perspective's differ.  The release of the ipad and iphone versions of x-plane were absolutely critical in their timing...if Austin had not done that, other's could have passed him by.  This is public knowledge...by austin himself.  He garnered nearly 3.5 million dollars in sales in the first 1.5 years off those apps...and THAT is funding x-plane 10 development now.  Without the handheld sales, we would have no x-plane 10.  Austin is managing development brilliantly...no loan needed! 

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Austin is managing development brilliantly...no loan needed!

Ok ok!  ;D 

Then i will disappear back into the masses of those waiting anxiously to see what Laminar delivers.

Regardless of what we all think, in the end, money talks.  :-) 

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I'm glad of the IOS stuff because the tech and code updates developed for it give us some wicked FPS upgrades in the desktop sim version. They learn a trick to make stuff work on the Iphone and bring it to the desktop. Good R and D and it makes money. :)

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to reply directly to the first post, if you are really an project manager then you should know very well how to much growth in a short time can topple a company, especially an art centric development company whose number one contributer is also the leader in all of this.

Austin would first have to give up being a true contributer and turn himself into a ring leader. From what i have heard i don't think he will do that anytime soon.

Plus, sometimes the small guys win.

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I believe XP 10 will live up to the hype, will advance Xplane to the next level, If you are into Simulators you will know about X-plane, The market is small but very well informed, The point is MSFS people will not not change until the product is better, then they will change ships, but remember they have invested a lot of money in their platform, So XP will have to be above average to get them to come over.

Except for the brilliant Ben Supnik and Chris, I do feel that Austin needs a better public relations effort, Information is inconsistent and even sometimes plain rude, yes X-Plane is "his baby', but we have to help in the parenting....

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