Update: Since this article, Xbox has launched Microsoft Flight Simulator on xCloud, making the game playable on Xbox One, and mobile devices. For further details on how to play MSFS on Xbox One, tune into a more recent version of the article by clicking on to the preceding link.
After 4 decades of PC exclusivity, Microsoft’s cloud-based flight simulator finally made its way to the consoles this July, launching on Xbox’s newest devices-Series X and S. Arguably, the most realistic simulator ever, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 creates an uncannily realistic replica of the globe owing to geospatial data, satellite imagery, and artificial intelligence. This includes, but is not limited to, recreating real-time weather conditions and traffic systems. All of this immersion, however, comes at a cost- the AAA title can be really taxing even for the most high-end rigs. Hence, the launch of MSFS 2020 on Xbox consoles serves as an incredible technical achievement.
While Xbox series X and S users are all set to take off, millions of Xbox One users will have to wait further to enjoy the full scope of cloud-powered virtual aviation from the comfort of their couch given MSFS is the first Microsoft-published AAA title not available on Xbox One (as of yet). So, exactly when is MSFS coming to Xbox One?
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Xbox One Release Date permalink
As of now, Microsoft has no plans to bring MSFS to Xbox One in the immediate future, with the company making it clear that previous-generation devices won’t receive the game. So, the question is, will Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 ever come to Xbox One? Most likely, yes!
Xbox’s investments in cloud Gaming could directly benefit millions of Xbox One owners, enabling them to play the game on their “obsolete” consoles. Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service (formerly xCloud) enables users to play hardware-intensive PC-quality games on mobile devices by connecting to a server in the cloud running exclusive Xbox titles. While initially limited to Android devices, the service has recently expanded to Windows PCs (Windows 10 exclusively) and iOS devices. Plans for expansion of the service to previous-generation consoles are also in effect, as pointed out by Microsoft.
"For the millions of people who play on Xbox One consoles today, we are looking forward to sharing more about how we will bring many of these next-gen games, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, to your console through Xbox Cloud Gaming, just like we do with mobile devices, tablets, and browsers", stated Xbox.
While one should certainly hope for the best, as of now, it is unclear when the service will be expanded to consoles. It is also worth mentioning that Microsoft Flight Simulator isn’t available for streaming on xCloud as of yet, although it was released on Game Pass on day 1. Also, Microsoft hasn’t specified a date for either of these releases so, Xbox One users will have to wait indefinitely.
Why isn’t MSFS 2020 coming to Xbox One in 2021? permalink
While initially announced as an Xbox One release, Microsoft quietly removed any references to the console during Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020’s advertising. If you have tried the AAA title on a PC, you already know why.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is an aesthetical masterpiece-arguably, the best-looking game ever-but all of these graphics come at a cost. The game can be really taxing for even the most high-end rigs, especially the Graphics card. Prior to the launch of Nvidia’s state of art Ampere GPUs and AMD’s 6000 series, there wasn’t a GPU on the market that could top 60-fps on Ultra 4K settings.
The aging Xbox One hardware is unable to meet the game’s exalted requirements. The 8-core AMD Jaguar (clock speed of 1.8 GHz) processor and a slow internal hard drive are severe shortcomings, rendering the console incapable of running the game. Although it packs an upgraded six teraflop GPU, the same shortcomings apply to the much-improved Xbox One X one, with the updates leaving the CPU untouched.
Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator, Jörg Neumann voiced similar concerns in his interview to Eurogamer, stating, “I guess it’s a timing thing. Obviously, memory matters. Certainly, on Ultra settings, you need a big PC-well, that’s a lot, lot more memory than what you had on an Xbox One. So, it’s a journey, like most things, you know – let’s get the Xbox Series X and S versions done, and then we’ll look ahead after that. We never close doors, and there are other options, though it’s a little bit too early to talk about it”.
The consoles that do run the game are free of any such weaknesses. Xbox series S, for one, boasts a new custom eight-core AMD Zen 2 CPU at 3.6 GHz. For context, that is 4 times as powerful as the Xbox One’s. Xbox Series X performs even better, clocking in at 3.8 GHz. Not to forget, the Xbox S and X series are also free of Xbox One’s greatest shortcoming - slow internal hard drive. Featuring lightning-fast solid-state drives (SSDs), the consoles offer brisk read and write speeds able to manage the complexity of Microsoft’s revolutionary flight simulator.
While Xbox One’s aging hardware limits its ability to run CPU-intensive games like Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, things could change drastically with Microsoft’s latest ventures in cloud gaming. Statements from the top brass have been generally positive, and with millions of users, Xbox One possesses too lucrative a fan base for Microsoft to miss. Hence, the optimism is justified!
That being said, for now, Xbox One users will have to patiently wait for their turn to enjoy the full scope of virtual aviation from the comfort of their couch. Till then, they could always turn to one of the best PCs for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. Wait, did I say something blasphemous? 😉