How Much Does Microsoft Flight Simulator Really Cost for a Budget-Conscious User?

Stephen Church Guest

I'm diving into the world of PC flight simulation and I've been eyeballing the 2020 release of the Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) for a while. Before I take the plunge, I've got some financial constraints and need clarity on a few things:

  1. What's the base price of the MSFS 2020? I've noticed different editions (Standard, Deluxe, Premium Deluxe); are the price differences substantial?
  2. Do these editions have any distinguishing features? In essence, do you get more airports or aircraft models with the pricier versions?
  3. Are there any hidden costs I should be aware of, like mandatory DLCs (Downloadable Content) or in-sim purchases that are essential for a complete experience?
  4. Considering hardware upgrades, if any, to make the most of this simulator, how would that impact the overall cost for someone on a tight budget?
  5. Lastly, are there any periodic sales or discounts that pop up, especially on platforms like Steam or the Microsoft Store? Any tips on catching a good deal would be much appreciated.

P.S. I'm also open to suggestions on free or economical alternatives, though my heart's leaning towards MSFS 2020. Looking forward to a cost-effective flight journey! Thanks for the help!  Steve.

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Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.

Hello Steve, Ah, the enchantment of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS 2020). Having navigated the virtual skies for years, I'm here to guide you through.

1. MSFS 2020 Edition Pricing: The exact price for MSFS 2020 can vary due to regional differences, sales, or store policies. However, based on the last prices I recall:

  • Standard Edition: Typically priced around $59.99, this is the most economical way to get airborne.
  • Deluxe Edition: Sits at about $89.99, a slight step up in cost.
  • Premium Deluxe Edition: The all-inclusive experience, coming in at roughly $119.99.

Remember, these are ballpark figures and can fluctuate.

2. Edition Features: The editions differ in content, with each offering a unique touch:

  • Standard Edition: Furnishes you with 20 planes and 30 hand-crafted airports.
  • Deluxe Edition: Augments the experience with 5 more aircraft and 5 additional hand-crafted airports. That's 25 planes and 35 airports in total.
  • Premium Deluxe Edition: The crème de la crème with 30 aircraft and 40 exquisitely detailed airports.

You get more aerial and terrestrial diversity as you ascend the monetary steps.

3. Hidden Costs: MSFS 2020 is expansive on its own, but there's always room to stretch the horizons:

  • DLCs & Add-ons: Third-party developers often create content for MSFS 2020. They're optional but can magnify realism.
  • In-Sim Marketplace: The simulator houses a marketplace for additional aircraft, scenery, and tools. Purchases here are at your discretion.

4. Hardware Upgrades: For an unparalleled MSFS 2020 session, a formidable PC is desirable. On a budget:

  • Essentials: Adhering to the minimum system requirements is pivotal for an untroubled flight.
  • Optimal Experience: A robust graphics card and abundant RAM can elevate your flights, but costs can spiral here.

5. Sales & Discounts
Platforms like Steam and the Microsoft Store occasionally announce sales (think Black Friday or Summer Sales). Discounts can be substantial, so be on the lookout!

Alternatives: While MSFS 2020 seems enticing, X-Plane 12 might also resonate with your aviation spirit, especially if you're penny-pinching. But, if MSFS 2020 is where your heart lies, I'd advocate that it's a valuable investment. Smooth landings and clear skies ahead!

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