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Microsoft Flight Is No More

More than 30 employees reportedly laid off, Vancouver studio still operational.

Though the excitement around flight simulators isn’t what it used to be (try telling that to Dave, Vinny or Drew, though), most folks agreed the revival of Microsoft Flight Simulator via Microsoft Flight was pretty great.

Unfortunately, the party’s over.

In a statement, Microsoft confirmed reports about the demise of Microsoft Flight and the unannounced Project Columbia. The result is apparently 35 employees laid off at the Microsoft Game Studios office in Vancouver.

Project Columbia was reportedly going to be a Kinect-enabled shooter.

The company said the Vancouver office is not being shut down, however.

Microsoft Studios has decided to end development on Microsoft Flight and Project Columbia. As a result of this action, some positions within the development teams have been eliminated. Microsoft human resources is working with the affected individuals to find new roles within the company.

Microsoft Studios is invested in British Columbia and still has several teams, both in Vancouver and Victoria, which will continue to produce the best entertainment and gaming experiences possible.

The free-to-play Microsoft Flight remains available for download at www.microsoftflight.com.

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patrickklepek

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Edited By patrickklepek
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Though the excitement around flight simulators isn’t what it used to be (try telling that to Dave, Vinny or Drew, though), most folks agreed the revival of Microsoft Flight Simulator via Microsoft Flight was pretty great.

Unfortunately, the party’s over.

In a statement, Microsoft confirmed reports about the demise of Microsoft Flight and the unannounced Project Columbia. The result is apparently 35 employees laid off at the Microsoft Game Studios office in Vancouver.

Project Columbia was reportedly going to be a Kinect-enabled shooter.

The company said the Vancouver office is not being shut down, however.

Microsoft Studios has decided to end development on Microsoft Flight and Project Columbia. As a result of this action, some positions within the development teams have been eliminated. Microsoft human resources is working with the affected individuals to find new roles within the company.

Microsoft Studios is invested in British Columbia and still has several teams, both in Vancouver and Victoria, which will continue to produce the best entertainment and gaming experiences possible.

The free-to-play Microsoft Flight remains available for download at www.microsoftflight.com.

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movac

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Edited By movac

Well, crap. I was planning to check it out some time.

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IceColdGamer

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Edited By IceColdGamer

Unfortunately knew this was coming. These free-to-play things are just a sad fad. Good luck finding some new jobs in the company duders.

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r3dt1d3

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Edited By r3dt1d3

1) Make sequel stripped of all the features past fans liked

2) Use GWFL

3) Fail to advertise to supposed casual target audience

4) Get shut down

Surprised it took this long to be honest.

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Joeku

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Edited By Joeku

I came so close to buying this on the Steam sale.

...Guess it's a good thing I didn't. Damn shame.

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cbarnes86

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Edited By cbarnes86

I was wondering why the Flight premium stuff was on sale today lol

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russcat

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Edited By russcat

Columbia was fun while it lasted :(

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JesterPC238

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Edited By JesterPC238

And yet a new plane *just* came out.

This is really frustrating, I was on board with it as an evolving platform, I guess now I have $40 of Alaska and Hawaii to fly around. Yay...

Thank the gods we still have DCS games around to hold the torch for flight simmin'. Maybe I'll finally have to give X-Plane a look...

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cikame

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Edited By cikame

More people would have bought the dlc if they bothered to develop cockpits for the planes.

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zaglis

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Edited By zaglis
@R3DT1D3 said:

1) Make sequel stripped of all the features past fans liked

2) Use GWFL

3) Fail to advertise to supposed casual target audience

4) Get shut down

Surprised it took this long to be honest.

Best thing? They can't make ''piracy'' as an excuse now.
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boylie

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Edited By boylie

It seems these days as though the gaming industry hates Vancouver. Suddenly, and with a passion. Good luck to all those affected

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Forum_User

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@IceColdGamer said:

Unfortunately knew this was coming. These free-to-play things are just a sad fad.

Yeah, TF2 and League of Legends are due to stop making money any day now. So are all of those MMOs that obviously failed because they don't make nearly as much money as the market leader. I mean, if you don't make the most money in a field, you might as well not even bother. I keep telling that to all of these music groups that aren't The Beatles, but none of them seem to listen for some reason.

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fatpat268

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Edited By fatpat268

@R3DT1D3 said:

1) Make sequel stripped of all the features past fans liked

2) Use GWFL

3) Fail to advertise to supposed casual target audience

4) Get shut down

Surprised it took this long to be honest.

Yup, pretty much this. Microsoft Flight was ultimately an insult to us who played the previous flight simulators for thousands of hours in the past. MS Flight was just a half assed effort (evidenced by the lack of modeled cockpits in dlc planes) in order to make a quick buck.

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MosaicM80

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Edited By MosaicM80

To bad, I just picked this up on the Steam sale and havent checked it out yet but it looked fun.

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megasoum

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Edited By megasoum

It's really sad for the people loosing their jobs, I'm in the same industry so I know the feeling but I saw that one coming miles away.

Microsoft Flight was complete crap and a HUGE stepback from the past games in the franchise.

It's like if Activision would put out a free2play version of Call of duty with only 2-3 guns and 1 map and say they are aiming at casual.

Now if they would have made a true successor to Flight Simulator X and put it on steam (and even better, with steam workshop support!) it would have sold a bunch. Sure in the end it's still a niche market but at least it's a market...

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Forum_User

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Edited By Forum_User

@Megasoum said:

It's like if Activision would put out a free2play version of Call of duty with only 2-3 guns and 1 map and say they are aiming at casual.

That might be a little closer to accurate, if Call of Duty wasn't one of the best-selling game series'. Then again, that seems to be very much along the lines of what Tribes: Ascend does (well, the weapons part), and it seems to be doing just fine.

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andygazi

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Edited By andygazi

Hmm. Just bought it all on the steam sale.

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skyline7284

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Edited By skyline7284

@Forum_User: VGChartz is never very accurate, especially for PC games.

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camp7203

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Edited By camp7203

A real flight lesson is cheaper.

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deerokus

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Edited By deerokus

This game had some potential - it got me playing it, as someone terrified of flight sims (X-Plane is intimidating as hell). The idea of a user-friendly but realistic flight sim is very compelling. They quickly squandered it through poor decisions, such as releasing very poor quality DLC (disaster when DLC sales are the only way you're making money) and so on.

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butano

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Edited By butano

Got the map packs on the steam sale for 10 bucks. Really bummed they ceased development on it.

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Edited By Forum_User

@skyline7284 said:

@Forum_User: VGChartz is never very accurate, especially for PC games.

I guess you're right. I will edit that out.

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fri3drich

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Edited By fri3drich

Why did most dlc planes have NO COCKPIT?!?!

you can do that in a racing game, because there is a lot of variety to the environment (tracks) and you get a better overview. But in a flight sim/game/whatever there is nothing to be gained by looking at your plane from behind. In the air your INSTRUMENTS are CRUCIAL because there are no reference points in the environment and plains are much more complex than cars. How could the suits think taking away this most basic and mandatory feature would somehow get more people into flying?

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deerokus

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Edited By deerokus

@fri3drich:

Yep. Especially when they're charging quite a lot of money for those planes with no cockpits... the average player who isn't super into flight sims and just wants to fly some planes around (me!) is better off just playing Just Cause 2 or something like that.

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asmo29a

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Edited By asmo29a

Mere days after I gave in and bought all the DLC on summer sale. Pfffff.

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Psychohead

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Edited By Psychohead

Damn shame. Game seemed promising, but I never went in on any of the DLC because it was just a little too pricey for my blood.

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Duxa

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Edited By Duxa

Thats unfortunate... Im guessing this is related to crappy year for MS overall, so they are "re-structuring".

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Pixeldemon

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Edited By Pixeldemon

This is unfortunate. Flight Sims are probably too niche to sustain a F2P model on, however.

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Performance

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Edited By Performance

I guess I didn't really expect it to go too far. Not enough of a following for a free-to-play style, as others have said.

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IceColdGamer

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Edited By IceColdGamer

@Forum_User: Simply because a few games are successful doesn't mean every developer on the planet can crank out a highly successful free-to-play game. Team Fortress 2 was released because of the dedicated fan base of TFC as well as Valve's popularity as a highly successful and creative development studio. LoL is based off of a DOTA system created for the wildly popular Warcraft 3 system, bringing with it another huge dedicated fan base.

Guild Wars 2 will use the same model. Bringing a vast fan base from a previous title and exploiting their desire for new content for their beloved franchises.

These free-to-play models are a great idea until these huge developers realize that the return on their investment is most likely going to minimal. Especially with the flood of F2P's on the market.

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Quantical

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Edited By Quantical

Aww man! I bought all the DLC during the Steam sale. I was hoping they were going to add some more terrain at some point. That and some more aircraft with actual cockpits.

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Edited By Draxyle

Really a shame. MS Flight was pretty dry and boring, but it had some good production values in the core of the game (not with the DLC, apparently). I loved the user friendly UI, checklist, and the attempt at a "narrative". If they had put all those things in a tried and true sim game, it'd be perfect.

A kinect-based shooter though..? That's what they were sent to work on? Ouch, this explains a lot. I wonder how those kinds of decisions get made in the first place without the room bursting in laughter.

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ltsmash

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Edited By ltsmash

It looks like Microsoft flipped the plane upside-down and hit "EJECT"...

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Edited By Forum_User

@Pixeldemon said:

This is unfortunate. Flight Sims are probably too niche to sustain a F2P model on, however.

I don't really understand that reasoning. One of the main points of F2P is to get more people to try a game.

The two things that are really important:

1) The quality of the product. (Obviously.)

2) Is the paid stuff really compelling to people, beyond what they get for free?

Based on comments I have read, this product doesn't really win on either of those points. Also, Microsoft's free-to-play stuff seems to be more along the lines of "demo" than true free-to-play. That was certainly the vibe I got from the launch of Age of Empires Online. It seems to be a bit of Microsoft misappropriating a term.

Microsoft bullshitting people. There's a new one, huh?

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Forum_User

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Edited By Forum_User

@IceColdGamer said:

@Forum_User: Simply because a few games are successful doesn't mean every developer on the planet can crank out a highly successful free-to-play game. Team Fortress 2 was released because of the dedicated fan base of TFC as well as Valve's popularity as a highly successful and creative development studio. LoL is based off of a DOTA system created for the wildly popular Warcraft 3 system, bringing with it another huge dedicated fan base.

Guild Wars 2 will use the same model. Bringing a vast fan base from a previous title and exploiting their desire for new content for their beloved franchises.

These free-to-play models are a great idea until these huge developers realize that the return on their investment is most likely going to minimal. Especially with the flood of F2P's on the market.

What makes you so convinced that all these other games would do so much better as pay-up-front products? Free-to-play gets more people to even try the game. It's kind of the point. Of course, it tends to work best with online multiplayer games that people keep going back to, not games that most people are going to play for a dozen hours and never touch again.

Also, Guild Wars 2 isn't free-to-play. $60 isn't free. I don't know why people keep misusing the term for MMOs in regards to the lack of a subscription fee. That's not what it means. Incidentally, Guild Wars 2, in a roundabout way, shows the underlying logic of free-to-play games. I mean, Guild Wars 2 is kind of double dipping. You have to buy the game, and then it also has some of the sorts of things a free-to-play MMO might have in its store. What I mean is that a lot of these companies making free-to-play games would do that, if they thought it would be more profitable, but instead they give people the base game, because it gets them hooked.

Then you have The Secret World, which triple dips. You have to buy the box, it has a subscription fee, and then they also sell some cash shop crap. (Of course, it's pretty obvious that game will be free-to-play soon enough, based on Funcom's other titles, and the trajectory that most MMOs have been on lately.)

So I find your logic is actually kind of backwards. The free-to-play model works best for games that are relative unknowns or games that have sold most of the boxed copies that they are going to already (hence why a lot of recent fairly big name MMOs launch with the traditional model and then transition to free-to-play once that well has dried up.) The games that are going to sell well for $60 - those are the ones that have little incentive to launch as free-to-play.

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Rawson

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Edited By Rawson

MS Flight was such a dumb idea, anyway. There wasn't any sort of advertising involved to try and drag in the new blood with a "light" flight sim, and everything else about just pissed off the core flight sim community. One of the biggest affronts was the fact that they didn't allow 3rd party mods and add-ons that were previously integral in the MS Flight Simulator series. Instead, they wanted to try and rake in more money via DLC, without realizing that they simply weren't up to snuff to compete with their own community.

Edit: Seriously, who the hell thought MS Flight was actually good or worthwhile? They couldn't even be assed to put in cockpits in paid planes. The whole thing's a joke.

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gamer_152

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Edited By gamer_152  Moderator

Well that didn't take long. Fair thee well Microsoft Flight.

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Edited By IceColdGamer

@Forum_User: You're right I misused the F2P term with Guild Wars. I don't consider MMOs F2P. I guess I just feel like releasing a title with the hope that people will get hooked and sink money into it is a risky business practice and it usually costs developers their jobs. You can see it all over the news with Zynga's stocks diving 40% this quarter because of such a terrible loss. Releasing a game free-to-play to get someone hooked has been done for decades. Except up until a little while ago they were called demos.

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Edited By bacongames

Microsoft Flight failed because they were stuck between two audiences, casual and hardcore, doing nothing to entice or incentivize either. All they had going was a simplified game with a F2P business model with no marketing or other hooks to actually entice F2P people. At the end of the day its kind of a dry and featureless flight sim, who wants that? Not enough people apparently.

Whatever its just restructuring and dropping product that doesn't seem to be working, nothing too surprising or noteworthy in this story.

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Th3_James

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Edited By Th3_James

Next time just make a hardcore flight sim.

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dwgill

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@IceColdGamer said:

@Forum_User: Simply because a few games are successful doesn't mean every developer on the planet can crank out a highly successful free-to-play game. Team Fortress 2 was released because of the dedicated fan base of TFC as well as Valve's popularity as a highly successful and creative development studio. LoL is based off of a DOTA system created for the wildly popular Warcraft 3 system, bringing with it another huge dedicated fan base.

I think you'd be surprised with how many people playing LoL came to it with no prior experience with the genre. Valve certainly benefited from having an already established userbase when it went free to play, but the DOTA genre was definitely a niche market at the time of LoL's release, and Riot Games really had to build their market.

Besides, neither of your excuses explain why the free to play model isn't sustainable or capable of growth. You've offered two explanations of why two popular f2p games are so wildly successful—one of which I concur with, the other less so—but for it to be a 'fad' you need to offer a reason why they will not continue to be, and why others cannot similarly reach sustainable profitability. I'll freely acknowledge that Valve & Riot's success do not in themselves prove that every other developer can be as successful at the model, but that's also true of every business model and media genre that exists. MMO's seem ill equipped to function under a traditional single-purchase model (guild wars appearing to be the exception proving the rule), but likewise shooters have been unable to adopt the subscription model with much success.

The question isn't whether f2p is the hole in which all pegs will come to fit—although that may be a question worth asking in regards to the extreme long-term future of gaming—but whether it is a viable business model, and one that can support quality games. LoL and TF2 have shown that, at the very least.

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gbrading

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Edited By gbrading

The future of flight sims isn't with Microsoft anymore sadly (or thankfully?). I tried Microsoft Flight and it was alright, but the value proposition was way too high. If they had set the level of entry cheaper, maybe it would have lasted longer.

Sad to see Microsoft Flight be thrown into the Game Room Forgotten Corner though.

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jasondesante

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Edited By jasondesante

at least its another free game on steam. lets hope it doesnt disappear and stays there to provide additional free value to steam.

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fistfulofmetal

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Edited By fistfulofmetal

awww. i just started getting into Microsoft Flight. SUPER LAME.

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MikkaQ

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Edited By MikkaQ

Too bad, I've learned to like the game quite a bit. It does a lot of things well that other flight sims have consistently failed at, and it's rather polished. It's definitely a good compliment to doing somewhat uninteresting commercial flights in MS Flight Simulator X. It's a great game to fly around in a few specific planes and enjoy some of the nicest scenery I've seen in a flight sim.

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Hurricrane

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Edited By Hurricrane

Whaaaat? I just bought a few things from it during the steam sale and played it for a long time before that.
Of course they did kinda kill themselves by putting out so little at such a high price. $7 for a goddamn plane with no cockpit? That's utterly pointless

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Hurricrane

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Edited By Hurricrane
@R3DT1D3

1) Make sequel stripped of all the features past fans liked

2) Use GWFL

3) Fail to advertise to supposed casual target audience

4) Get shut down

Surprised it took this long to be honest.

^^^^ That.
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mtcantor

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Edited By mtcantor

THey should reboot the entire series. But this time it should be in space. And you should fight giant cat people.

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Sooty

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Edited By Sooty

@IceColdGamer said:

These free-to-play things are just a sad fad.

Couldn't be any more wrong if you tried.

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Edited By BurningStickMan

@mtcantor said:

THey should reboot the entire series. But this time it should be in space. And you should fight giant cat people.

"Microsoft Wing"?