Back in August 2020 when the AAA title was launched, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 could eat up 170 Gigabytes of memory. Since then, however, the install size of the base game has been reduced to 83 GB. The initial steam download comes in at a little over 700 MB and once you have that running, another 81 GB of data is downloaded. It is pertinent to mention, however, that this does not include addons or update and is only relevant to the base version of the game.
A major grievance that simmers have held with MSFS 2020 is the game size, and rightly so. The base version of the latest iteration of Microsoft’s Flight simulator series is the 8th biggest game of all time and that’s after a meaty chunk had been cut off in the 18.104.22.168 sim update. Needless to say, the game takes up a major slice of your SSD.
Things could have been much worse, however. The initial release of MSFS2020 took up well north of 170 GB and was almost inaccessible for people with limited memory and/or slow internet connection. It almost took you back into the 90s when you had to leave your PCs up for overnight updates.
One year into the release, Microsoft launched the Sim Update IV (22.214.171.124). Among other things, the update reduced the size of the Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 to 83 GB, marking a decrease of over 50%. Microsoft and Asobo Studio didn’t clarify what had gone under the hood to bring about such a drastic reduction; only saying, ‘we performed some optimization for the initial full download of the title’.
A major chunk of optimization could be associated with Microsoft’s desire to port the game to the Xbox consoles. With consoles, storage comes at a premium. So, unless the studio wanted users to uninstall every other game, some form of optimization was needed. Microsoft seems to have come through, with the game now available on Xbox series X and S and also available on Xbox One via xCloud.
With MSFS 2020 addons, sky is the limit. You have access to hundreds and thousands of paid and free aircraft, airports, sceneries, and missions. Sounds lucrative, no? Well, the only downside is the storage. With addons, you could go well north of 1 Terabyte. I am an occasional simmer and even I am up to 800 GB.
To conclude, the base version of MSFS 2020 only weighs 83 GB. You would still, however, need 150 GB of free storage to install the game, or the launcher won’t run. That seems about right given each update adds to the size and the extra memory provides a headroom for updates.
You shouldn’t, however, get a 150 GB SSD for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. Even without addons, your game size would approach 250-300 GB after a couple of weeks of use. In case you want to fly with all the bells and whistles you can muster, I would recommend 1-2 TB of storage. Opt for the former only in case you don’t intend to play other AAA titles.