Is Microsoft Flight Simulator half the game it used to be? Probably not but you’d be forgiven for thinking that thanks to a new update that reduces its hard drive footprint from 170GB to 83GB.
The open-world aviation game is a huge game. The listing for the game on the Xbox desktop app says it takes up 127GB in install space, but the actual space needed to move around and download the game is likely even bigger. And while big games are par for the course now in AAA — I’m looking at you, double the install size since launch Gears 5 — it’s not great if you have less than ideal download speeds.
The latest update reduces the size of that download by like, a lot. That’s according to the release notes on the game’s official page, which says that developer Asobo Studio “performed some optimization for the initial full download of the title so the base game is only 83GB instead of +170GB.” Without any explanation as to how they did this, I’m going to assume that’s just some kind of code devil magic.
Other updates include reduction in the bandwith used for weather data, which should lead to better in-game performance in generating real-time authentic flight conditions. Those with less than sturdy PCs have probably noticed that getting “real” weather, air traffic and the like all at once can deal a beating to the framerate.
The patch also issues a number of changes to navigation, weather, and planes, as well as the obligatory bug fixes. The notes also warn of a known issue that causes crashes when exiting VR mode, with some recommendations on how to help the developers solve the problem.
I personally suspect that the new space optimization that brings Microsoft Flight Simulator half the size it was has a purpose: to set up the game for its eventual release on Xbox consoles. Xbox Wire said last December that the game will be coming to Xbox Series X|S in summer, with no date set. This update suggests it might be closer than we think.