What happened to the modern combat flying sim?


Mar 18, 2004
I remember when I in 1993 bought the TFX game made by DID (Digital Image Design). I spent hours and hours playing that game. For its time, it was extremely advanced and while not as detailed as the falcon f-16 games, it think it could nonetheless be classed as a study sim (although with 3 planes). In 1995 I bought the EF2000 (EF = EuroFighter) game. That featured a manual of several hundreds pages and detailed descriptions by one of the EF program managers. It was a truly wonderfull game with a dynamic campaign engine. Then in 1998 the Total Air War F-22 simulator was released. I didn't get to play it until 1999, as my PC wasn't equipped to handle it. This game was the best game I have ever played - well, maybe a tie with Tie Fighter (pun intended :). I still play it from time to time, but I have lost the log file hack that allowed me to fly all the mission from the start (the game's only fault was the amount of succesfull missions needed to be flown before being allowed to do something interesting). The disaster struck, and DID was aquired by RAGE. RAGE managed to truly dumb down the follow up to EF2000 (called Eurofighter Typhoon) to the point where it wasn't even enjoyable

Fast forward to today, we have MS Flight Sim, some WWII combat simes (not study sims IIRC) and maybe some survey sims with previous generation fighters. But where have all the detailed study sims gone? Although I'm extra picky because I'm mostly drawn to simulations depicting the bleeding edge in aircraft technology, but it seems like nothing is available. But why has this happened?
Is it because the computer gaming business has increased to much that the relatively low amount of money to be made of study sim enthusiasts is just not appealing anymore, or is there another explanation?
Maybe I just haven't been looking hard enough, but if so please enlighten me.



No Lifer
Jul 15, 2003
Too complicated for the average gamer, or at least the target audiance.
Aiming for the lowest common denominator is the sure way to success in bussiness. Much as I hate it, that applies to video games as well.

There are a crapload more people with consoles than with good gaming computers, and consoles and their target customers want relatively simple games. Companies also hate spending a ton of money on developement. Thats part of the reason we have an assload of First-person-shooters and EA keeps making the exact same sports games every year.

Detailed flight sims wont sell millions of copies like most other genres, so they get low priority with publishers. Yes, there are people who like them and will buy them, but not enough to justisfy huge teams of programmers and artists.

This is somewhat related to an issue I've been having since the golden days of Deus Ex and Baldurs Gate. But I am tired and will comment more later tonight.


Diamond Member
Oct 11, 1999
The good ol' days, when flight sims came with a huge binder for you to study before you could actually play the game. No easy feat mastering all the radar functions, weapons, enemy fires and avoid hitting the ground. Janes's Longbow, Longbow 2, F-15E, Microprose Falcon 4.0. I miss those games.


Junior Member
Jan 30, 2008
I'm under the impression, that Falcon 4.0 is still the best out there, even having some modernised graphics and whatnots.


Diamond Member
Oct 17, 2006
This discussion has been debated in the past.

Falcon4 being the last big budget study sim. It took 5 years to develop, it cost Microprose millions of dollars, and needed to sell about a million copies to break even.

I think it sold about 400,000. Which would be considered a big hit by most game sales. However, being that Microprose at the time shifted all its resources to the project. The company also produced the Civilization series, Master of Orion, Longbow, and countless other franchises, which they had to stop developing on. (Sid Meier was the brainchild for Microprose F-15 flight sim before he got into Civilization and those types of games)

That meant they put all their eggs into one basket, and it failed. Microprose had to sell its IP and fold. Hasbro bought the Falcon4 which it later sold to Atari. Sid Meier created Firaxis and bought the Civ IP. That other dreadful company bought Master of Orion and made number 3 and ruined that series.

Anyways, the moral of the story is this. Study flight sims require lots of work, alot of resources to create. I can guarantee you that Falcon4 is a more complex piece of code than any Half Life, Doom, Grand Theft Auto, and so on. Not only that but you can't create a "fantasy" game with made up stats. You have to have pilots test drive the game to indicate if its operating like an F-16 would, and use them as consultants.

Its much easier for to dumb down the game, and whip something out that doesn't require so many resources. Jet Fighter games is a prime example of that. Their target 40,000 in sales, and they'd usually get about 50,000 which made it profitable. Falcon4 required 20 times that.


Jan 7, 2000
There have been some good reviews of the new Acceleration expansion for the MS Flight Sim which has the F-18. Has anyone played that yet? I, too, have been lamenting the lack of flight sims these days and was hoping that it is as good as the reviews I have read say.


Apr 8, 2002
heh friend and I are flying together in FSX and were talking about maybe trying out a fighter sim. I cant believe the lack of fighter sims out there.



Sep 10, 2001
Eh it's a funny evolution in gaming really.

The population grows bigger yet the choice in games grows smaller. Soon the only choice will be to play World of Warcraft.


Diamond Member
Aug 10, 2005
I don't think the hardcore sim genre will ever die completely, it's just going to take a lot longer between releases. The community is probably one of the best, whether it's the submarine folks or the flight-simmers or something in-between. If you are looking for a mature community that's helpful and friendly, this is it.


Diamond Member
Sep 6, 2005
I'm just amazed at how buggy Sim games are these days, Silent Hunter 4 is off the hook with the bugs. And that latest bUbiSoft Blazing Angels wow, it's like they are releasing Alpha code.


Nov 26, 2001
I miss flight sims and tank sims.

Why can't PC driving games be good as top tier console racing games?