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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

January 23, 2009 at 10:27 AM

Is Microsoft Flight Simulator coming to an end?

MICROSOFT

A screenshot of Microsoft “Flight Simulator X” depicting a float plan and the Seattle downtown skyline.

[Update, 11:39 a.m.: Microsoft is indeed closing Aces Studio, maker of one of its longest-running products, Flight Simulator, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed.

“Following our annual strategy review process, [the Interactive Entertainment Business] is making adjustments within our business to align our people against our highest priorities, and the closure of Aces is once of those changes,” he said via e-mail.

Fewer details on the future of Flight Simulator.

“All we’re announcing at this time is that we are committed to flying games,” he continued.]

Game industry news site Gamasutra reports that ACES, the Microsoft game studio responsible for its iconic “Flight Simulator” program, was “heavily affected” by the company’s first widespread layoffs. I’ve asked a Microsoft spokeswoman to comment and will update as appropriate.

Gamasutra citing “development sources” reports that “a large portion of the dev house’s staff has been let go — with multiple reports indicating that the entire Flight Simulator team has been axed.”

If true, what a bummer. As my colleague, Brier Dudley, wrote about “Flight Simulator X” in 2006, the franchise has a special place in Microsoft’s portfolio and a tie to the city’s other principal industry: aerospace.

“Microsoft has been selling ‘Flight Simulator’ since 1982, and it’s now the longest running product in its portfolio.

“It’s also one of the few Microsoft products that seems a natural for Jet City. … [T[he company has taken advantage of the local aerospace industry, working in the past with Boeing. His studio includes a number of people drawn from the local aviation community. Many are pilots, one of whom flew for Horizon Air.”

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