Last month (May 2017) Lockheed Martin announced the release of Prepar3D Ver-4, the first flight simulator based on Microsoft’s original FSX code to be converted to 64-Bit. (X-Plane has been a 64-bit program for many years but it’s not based on Microsoft’s code). The really interesting thing about this is that the Prepar3D Ver-4 programmers have managed to adapt the original code so that some existing (32-bit) add-ons (f which there are thousands) will be able to run on the platform while certain others will perhaps be able to run after being patched. This has immense implications since the problem with Prepar3D running out of memory on a 32-bit framework will be hugely reduced (or so the theory goes !).
What does this mean for you and me?
Here is the way I see it.
Disclaimer: The following is merely my opinion for what it’s worth …
- The future of flight simulation looks like it will be dominated by two major platforms – X-Plane and Prepar3D. Whether Dovetail Games’ upcoming FlightSimWorld (also 64-bit) gains significant traction remains to be seen.
- Both X-Plane 11 and Prepar3D – 4 are serious flight simulators and really shouldn’t be regarded as games. In fact, Lockheed Martin explicitly indicate that Prepar3D is a training tool and you have to be at minimum a registered student to legally operate the software. X-Plane 11 has no such restrictions but it’s sophistication is such that it is not really a “jump-in and fly” game. This means serious commitment to the aviation community – a good sign for the future.
- A few days ago I received notification from a payware scenery producer that they would be concentrating on X-Plane 11 and Prepar3D – 4 compatible products from now on because the memory advantages of 64-bit for scenery complexity is significant; 32-bit FSX compatible products will gradually be phased out of their product lineup. The writing is now firmly on the wall. I expect to see most add-on developers doing likewise.
- While I still feel that X-Plane 11 is far and away the best flight simulator available particularly because of the approach-ability of the developers at Laminar Research as well as payware and freeware add-on developers (you can actually talk to them!) and let’s not forget the passionate X-Plane community; Lockheed Martin has made a huge stride and when all is said and done, competition on a reasonably level playing field can only benefit the end user.