If you visit the Eagle Dynamics store page today and have a look at the entry for the DCS: AV-8B you’ll notice that ‘early access’ has been removed from the listing which quietly suggests that the Harrier, developed by third party developer RAZBAM, is feature complete and is now being sustained. The pushback from the community has been loud. Here’s what’s happening and a few of my own thoughts so you’re up to date.
Not so feature complete?
A short message posted on the DCS World forums by Eagle Dynamics community manager BIGNEWY indicated that the DCS: AV-8B NA Harrier was considered feature complete and was no longer an early access aircraft in the store. What followed was outrage from most corners of the community with many pointing to the aircraft’s feature list on the store page highlighting some of the systems not yet implemented.
One DCS World forum post was created to highlight the features not yet implemented or not working correctly. Others more pointedly suggested that systems like the GBU-54 are still not implemented.
The last 24-48 hours has been filled with clarifications, some finger pointing, and ultimately the lack of a clear and cohesive message. One r/Hoggit thread captured much of the commentary coming from within RAZBAM and Eagle Dynamics alike. In short, RAZBAM developers lay the blame at Eagle Dynamics feet, Eagle Dynamics say they don’t change module status without the consent of the third party developer and that they are talking with RAZBAM CEO Ron Zambrano.
So what now?
At this point its hard to say what will come next. RAZBAM previously had their own community manager, DECOY, who stepped down some months ago and their communications have been less organized since then as a result. Now with this issue having come up there’s no cohesive message coming out which has lead to plenty of confusion.
Having worked in the communications and marketing field for a decade or more myself this is exactly the kind of situation you want to avoid when doing communications and public relations or community relations work. Nobody ends up looking good.
To that end, many have expressed second thoughts about the DCS: F-15E that RAZBAM is working on currently and there are concerns about just how much of the DCS: AV-8B will really be finished or if we’re at an end point where only bugs will be occasionally resolved.
I would advocate waiting the situation out before making any purchasing decisions. Although it doesn’t look good right now, cooler and calmer heads will prevail and I suspect that the DCS: AV-8B will continue to see updates and upgrades as time goes on. But they will come sporadically and slowly as they have. In short… I suspect not much will change and that will be much to the chagrin of the community.
The DCS: AV-8B is one of my most flown DCS modules although it hasn’t been on my radar very much recently. It’s a perfectly flyable and enjoyable aircraft. You can have fun with it (except with the maddeningly difficult to fire AGM-65’s) but at the same time, there are issues that I know everyone would like to see resolved.
For now, the status of the module and if it will become any more complete than it has hangs in the air. It’s an unfortunate return to controversy that I had hoped was behind us. Hopefully we’ll have more clarification from both RAZBAM and Eagle Dynamics soon – a joint statement clearing up confusion would be a good start.