More candid insight from Aerosoft's project manager on MSFS, the CRJ, the SDK and the add-on market

Aerosoft’s project manager Mathijs Kok has shared more interesting insight on the CRJ and the market in general. Have to say, I always appreciate reading from him. He’s a veteran of the industry that has been around for a long time, and he doesn’t really hold back.

First on the CRJ:

Ahh yes, Jorg spoke about it yesterday I assume, missed it. Asobo and Microsoft are indeed very much involved. I know we have discussed that a few times but let me go over it one more time.

As you all know we were in many ways involved with the release of MFS. We did the boxed version, have been one of the first add-on developers to see it and we have been able to give some advice based on our nearly 30 years of experience with flightsim. After the release we had access to the first versions of the SDK (together with some other selected partners). This allowed us to have add-ons like OnAir ready on release.

We very early decided that we would use the CRJ made by Hans Hartmann as our first aircraft. It has just the right complexity to really task the developing SDK. The Airbusses would be too complex, the Twin Otter too easy. As Asobo had zero experience with running the far more complex code in their simulator, it was rather easy to set up a system where Hans would show them what was needed and Asobo basically would try to get the code running. Of course knowledge flows both ways. We learned a lot about the sim, how to use it efficiently. Of course the comment will be that the SDK and the sim will be made to get the CRJ running. And yes, to some degree that is true. Hans and Asobo worked together every day, often until very late in the evening. There was a huge investment from both parties. But the CRJ is a very ‘standard’ airliner. An 737 might be a bit more complex in the Flight Guidance Systems, but most of the other systems are comparable. If lateral guidance works, vertical guidance is just modestly more complex. AutoThrottle, that the CRJ misses, and an aircraft like the 737 has, is a very basic system. You need some tables to manage climbs and descends but that is something add-on devs dealt with for over a decade. Does not make it easy, but doable.

We are not the only company who has access like we have btw, we are bit surprised other companies do not use it as much as we do. Perhaps it is because you need to invest many many months of work without any payment. With the seriously reduced income from P3D add-ons some smaller companies might be low on cash. There are a lot of commercial elements that are not obvious to most people. If you want to read my rantings about that, check this: A glass of wine and mildly vindictive ponderings - English - AEROSOFT COMMUNITY SERVICES


So what does that mean for the CRJ? Are we close to release? What is included? What is the price?

It means that we are gearing up for a release. File are being tested, marketing is being done. BUT, we really need a a few bits to work that do not work right now. We can’t release without those bits and we can’t include them because the sim does not play ball. But as said, coms with Asobo are very good and every day things are solved. We still do not know when we can release, but we have made some decisions.

The goal of this release was to match the P3D V5 version. Apart from some aspects, like the option to show charts in the EFB and a real weather radar (so not one that only shows weather a weather engine made) that matched to the weather that is shown in the sim, we can basically deliver. The current version of the sim simply does not allow that. Our code is ready and when the sim is we can include it. We do not believe those are show stoppers. Many P3D add-ons do not have it now, heck, apart from our Airbusses no add-on is capable of showing weather that is read from the sim itself. The release will not be stopped because of these things.

Price will be modest. We believe prices for MFS add-ons will be lower than for P3D add-ons because we simply have a lot more customers. No discount for existing customers. The investment done is just to massive.

Early next week we’ll know more and will show more.

Secondly, on the add-on market in general.

I felt rather unhappy about some of the discussions on our forums (and the accusations made) in the last week, so I decided to have a glass of wine and reflect on them.

First, we do not remove a discussion from view without a lot of internal discussions. We only do so when we feel the discussion is unjust, contains incorrect information or simply violates our idea of what is right and wrong. Our forums are NOT ‘public’ forums like on other sites. We decide what is welcome and what is not. Now there are very few forums without commercial links (if a website has a shop you will see not everything) but you can still find them and you should be free to post about Aerosoft what you want there. But you will find a LOT of posts on our forums that start with “I expect this to be removed very soon” that are still public. In fact, we are very lenient on these things compared to other forums. If we remove something from view you can almost always find it in Avsim in minutes.

Secondly, we are willing to discuss almost anything and willing to defend the decisions we make. But there is Aerosoft’s own productions and Aerosoft’s product where we just sell what we get delivered. Of course, we only sell what we feel is correct. But if you want to know why a developer decided to do something in a certain way, we can only forward the question. We agreed it was suitable to sell (and feel free to discuss that) but the decisions are not made by us.

Thirdly, these are exciting times. A lot is changing. If you see a person posting a rather serious complaint about Aerosoft, do check if they have commercial interests that might conflict with ours. If you see somebody complaining about our focus on MFS, check if they have commercial interests in P3D add-ons. Ask them if they might have been refused higher levels of MFS development support. Check their (ex) role on P3D forums. It might show things in a quite different light.

Fourth, Aerosoft is a commercial company. We are with some margin the largest flight simulator add-on company. We have over 50 employees and a lot more people we depend on us in other ways. My own departments (support and internal aircraft development) got 5 new full-time employees in the last 9 months. That is a ■■■■ load of money to be paid to these people every month. So, while we still love that FSX customer who wants an update for a 16-year-old sim and a 12-year-old product, it is just not going to happen. If you feel your 27-euro purchase in 2009 entitles you to an update to make the airport look like it does right now, sorry. Everything we sell is without ANY promise of new features. Name me any company that does that differently.

Fifth, (I should stop counting). We like P3D V5. Honestly. It has some fantastic new features, but when we see that the same files produce different brightness levels in EVERY update or hotfix and to correct all of that for every update takes us 2 weeks to match the new sim standards, we say that we rather wait for Lockheed to make up their minds. Most lights in P3D are 1999 standards, we must calculate how a light source works with a surface. So that is why our Airbuses work well on some airports where PMDG aircraft do not and there are airports where the opposite is true. In MFS we just define the light, modern standards.

Again, we love P3D V5. We just do not love the fact it is changing its mind all the time. Now I am not blaming Lockheed. They always made it clear their professional customers come first. They loved the fact a few tens of thousands of simmers bought the sim and tested it. They also made an add-on market possible and to be honest, we got to correct a lot of professional users every month who believe a 40-euro purchase allows them to use the add-on on multiple stations. The basic fact is that Lockheed lost thousands of testers and dozens of developers. Because just check most developers who worked on P3d v4 addons might have release version that that ‘work’ in P3D v5 but very few actually spend serious time on P3D v5 features. New P3D releases are like hens’ teeth at this moment, exceedingly rare. And if there are any, they are not overly exciting.

If people honestly believe that my comments about the open issues in P3D v5 affect developments I am seriously honored. But it is laughable. The dev companies who use us as publishers are smart. Most have been doing add-ons for a few decades. They know where the money is. Just as we do.

And the money is in MFS. All these people got to pay invoices, just as we do. We do not ‘decide’ what platform to make add-ons for, we go where the customers are. If you get me five thousand FS2002 users willing to buy add-ons we gladly make add-ons for that platform. We will make serious money as making add-ons for FS2002 is super simple at this moment. But these customers are not there. Just as FSX customers are not there and as P3D customers are not there. Even serious P3D users who do not even think about looking at MFS are not buying add-ons right now. There still are a huge amount of FSX users. But for us, they are non-existing as they stopped being commercially interesting in late 2017. There is a serious amount of users of P3D and they were all very willing to buy add-ons, but they stopped buying add-ons in early 2020. X-Plane users are still remarkably interesting as they keep on buying add-ons. Do not be surprised to see X-Plane add-ons being made, they simply sell.


Aerosoft does not ‘make’ the market, we follow. For sure we have commercial interests in X-Plane 11 and MFS and will promote these platforms. Openly. We are co-publisher for MFS (as we did the boxed version) and we have been co-publisher for X-Plane for the same reason and we still hold a lot of the Steam rights for that sim. We are proud of that. We invested hundreds of thousands of Euro’s in those products. But we sell what customers want.

I realize this message might sound vindictive. And to a certain degree, it is. I am upset about comments posted that have a hidden agenda. We do not delete them because that only boosts the ‘Aerosoft deletes all negative post’ idea. Which, again, is simply nonsense. If people claim that, ask them, what posts are deleted, the internet does not forget right? But again, if you see something posted that is rather negative, search Google for the poster. If the poster is not man enough to use his own name, that should tell you something. If he/she does us his own name, good for them, I respect that a lot. But check if they are selling P3D scenery (or tried to). I can understand they are upset if a business venture fails, been there. I do not understand how speaking bad about a competitor that is successful helps in any way.

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You have to appreciate someone being straight forward and honest,

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Very well said, Thanks Aerosoft.

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great, very good post.
i do am waiting for your Otter hehe

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Not being a full-on simmer I had never even heard of aerosoft before this forum.
I find his inside posts very refreshingly open and realistic, I am impressed! To the point of likely buying the CRJ (which is an airplane and type of flying I have no interest whatsoever in) just because it fully utilizes the sim and because of how the guy talks!

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Interesting that Xplane sales are still strong. Good signal for the future, as competition is always good for the customer

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Mathijs is clearly implying the future is with MSFS. P3D will gradually become obsolete in the consumer market (consumer market, not commercial market). And for now, X-Plane users are still purchasing add-ons. But according to Mathijs, you can even sense that X-Plane is in trouble and if MSFS keeps advancing and more 3rd parties switch to MSFS, it may be a matter of time until X-Plane becomes obsolete.

Personally, I think the more competition is better. The problem with X-Plane and P3D are that their engines are 10 years old and are engines from the last generation. Given time, it’s not looking good for X-Plane and P3D, especially as MSFS keeps getting better.

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Fantastic post. To me, the most interesting piece of info was that X-plane users are still buying addons, while P3D users have stopped. This indicates that P3D and MFS share a user base, while X-planes users want something else in their flight sim. What could this be?

All along, I had believed that P3D was the platform for simmers interested in complex aircraft, while X-plane users were more concerned with VFR flying. So I expected that in the early days of MFS, P3D would stay strong while it still had all the complex aircraft, and X-plane users would mainly switch over.

Does anybody have an idea about why things have gone the other way? One thought I have is VR - X-plane’s VR implementation is great. But I still don’t think VR users make up enough of the market for that to be a deciding factor here. Could it be the type of addons that people buy for these sims? Would love to hear some explanation of this.

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Thanks for this. It puts the present situation into very clear perspective.

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Im so ready to fly the CRJ. The visuals look stunning, the systems are hopefully good, and just a new airliner to fly!

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Mostly, P3D has been created basically as a hobby project for Lockheed Martin, they never intended it to be a core business, so they don’t care if it sells like peanuts.

That’s why it has ridiculous pricing practices and pretty literally zero marketing.

In another post Kok mentioned that while LM doesn’t say official numbers, Aerosoft’s estimation is that P3D sold 20-30K units overall. That’s indeed peanuts even for niche games.

On the other hand, while I have no idea about specific sales, X-Plane is Laminar Designs’ core business, so they actively work to sell it. As a consequence, it sells (I’m sure not as much as MSFS, but I’m also positive better than P3D).

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I always said Mathijis is one of the smartest operators in the sim world. I have a lot of respect for him, he certainly has opened up my eyes in the behind the curtains world of sim development.

I know if I was him, I’d probably have lost my patience eons ago with the way some members of the public act on Aerosoft forums.

I for one look forward to the many wonderful creations that he has in the works.

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Great perspective. This quote however is exactly why I feel Asobo should have never bothered with the A320. It’s not a simple aircraft to simulate properly, and not a slightly more computerized Boeing, which it isn’t. This says something if the dev can’t yet put their beloved Airbus line in MSFS2020. We know the SDK has been a challenge for the dev community, but interesting to hear the impact that has on what can be included given the current state.

If I understand this correctly, It’s not a matter of waiting for add-on devs to provide payware quality aircraft, it’s getting the right SDK platform to permit it. I love MSFS2020 for GA. But my airliner flying and complex aircraft flying will be left to X-Plane and P3D for now.

Yes and no. It is more complex to develop, but it’s also the most user-friendly. It does make sense to implement it instead of a 737 in a sim that aims to hit a larger market.

I own all three platforms. I’ve had X-Plane since version 9 and all the prior Flight Simulator / P3D versions.

We all know many of the truly deep, study level aircraft made for P3D. For me, it’s mostly been the airliners. In X-Plane, I have a few airliners and but several GA that are study level and high quality. Let’s not forget helicopters which are absolutely horrid in P3D but will make you work in X-Plane to master.

I agree with his statement that unless the add-on is something I really want and is exclusive to P3D, I most likely wouldn’t buy it. I’m looking forward to a soon-to-be released study level MD-11 on X-Plane and I just picked up the fantastic SR20/22 combo.

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If Asobo did not “bother” with the A320, they would not realize what is needed to support this type of aircraft going forward. Far better to design the MSFS system now with an eye to the future, than to have to keep changing it, going forward…,

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As I have the three platforms , in my point of view, is that X-Plane is some what a compromise when I switch from MSFS to fly an airliners. You get not bad graphics, good night lighting, slopped runways even on default airports, also the feeling of flying a plane , I don’t know I am not a pilot bit it feels good.
Now one day I tried to fire P3Dv5 for fun , just horrible graphics , buildings of scenery like minecraft (I have all the orbx stuff), broken EA and worse of all, DXGI errors and vram CTD , that really I couldn’t tolerate that drove me nuts to just remove it from my machine.
Also I appreciate the community engagement with the sim and so far that has been fantastic in both X-Plane and MSFS with open dialog with the community and influence from the community that you’d appreciate. In P3D it always felt to me like a secretive project out of touch, only selected chosen people get access to their beta with no merits or what so ever which pushed me away from it more and more to X-Plane and MSFS. I just don’t like to see some handful of people keep playing the influencer card in Avaim P3D fourm just because they are part of P3D the chosen elite people.

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I hear your point. My thought was that putting a “generic” A320 with the intention of learning about it to make it better is a bit of a drag for the devs and community. My point was, stick to fully representing what the current SDK allows, then introduce an A320 when ready and able to do a proper one.

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Well, I finally decided today to stop the development work I was doing in MSFS, shelve it, and come back in the new year.

Just too many needed things missing from, or not documented in the SDK, and way too much time wasted playing the “MSFS Quest game” seeking out the Hidden treasures from Hidden locations, only to find that those treasures transform overnight into useless trash, after each Update.

I develop Flight Sim content as a Hobby, and it should be FUN – not a constant frustration, where I am beating my head against a brick wall of secrecy and misinformation.

I have a new, added respect for those that have chosen to do this for a living, and who continue to pursue their targets (having little choice), and beat a path for the rest of us to follow.

I wish them every success, and thank them for being the ones at the forefront, helping shape the future of MSFS, specially from the perspective of 3rd party development.

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Thank you but please give Twin Otter quick :slight_smile:

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