Earlier this week, Microsoft announced a surprisingly early August 18 release date for its upcoming Flight Simulator title. With the closed beta set to begin near the end of this month after almost a year since the first Tech Alpha release, the official release is only one month away. The game is also set to get a physical release in Europe in the form of 10 dual-layered DVD discs.
With this week's regular development update, the focus resides on the closed beta, as one would expect. However, a new in-game Marketplace Partner Program in the form of an SDK update has also been announced and detailed today.
As far as the closed beta is concerned, good news arrives for those who were a part of the Alpha program. Early access to the beta is being granted to these participants starting today. For those who weren't selected in the Alpha program, Microsoft will start sending out invitations from July 23, presumably through July 30 - which is when the closed beta begins. The nondisclosure agreement (NDA) that was drawn up for Alpha participants is still applicable to the beta.
Moving on, the Marketplace Partner Program unveiling means that for the first time in a Flight Simulator title, a built-in marketplace that enables partners to sell content directly to gamers will be provided. Microsoft has also indicated that it is open to partnering up with more content creators; signing up for the program is completely free, though only approved applicants will be allowed to make their content available through the marketplace.
The Flight Simulator team explained the working of the Marketplace in the following way:
The Marketplace will operate under an Agency model, which means that you, as the content creator, will set the price for every piece of content you submit. Becoming a partner doesn’t alter your ability to sell your content on your own websites and storefronts. Just like with FSX, you can continue to sell your content outside of our Marketplace. Becoming a Microsoft Flight Simulator Marketplace Partner essentially unlocks another channel for you.
With regards to the actual SDK, documentation on the living world, airport services, jetways, ground vehicles in airports, and SimVars has been improved. Other QoL improvements and bug fixes have also been made, and a couple of new samples have been added. Wrapping up this week's announcements, the latest preview version of the development roadmap is now available in the Insider Area.