Today, something new arrived in the world of flight simulation. The Flight Simulation Association (FSA) is a new initiative aimed at creating an association of sim pilots that is intended to promote the hobby through a combination of tutorials, webinars, discounts, and other membership benefits. The launch took place today and has attracted some controversy. Still, it’s something new and different and so this is what you need to know about the new association, what it might or might not mean for you, and the challenges that have come up so far.
You may have seen various outlets sharing the news that ‘something big is coming’ and this is what that was in reference to. The Flight Simulation Association is an idea brought to life by the co-founders of FlightSimExpo with the goal of advancing and promoting the hobby. The FSA is membership driven with a $30/year membership fee and a free introductory month with access to most of the benefits of full members. Full members gain access to discounts on software, discounts on hardware as well as access to webinars and guides for getting into flight simulation and more. There’s also a feature that lets you connect with other local sim pilots if you’re interested in seeking them out.
Companies such as Orbx, A2A Simulations, Aerosoft, Honeycomb, Laminar Research, and RealSimGear are among the members that have partnered with the FSA to offer rotating discounts on their products. Not yet on the list are products from IL-2 and DCS World, however, I had a chance to talk with the co-founders in the run up to launch on the association and there’s potential for them to join as well in the future.
Learn more about the Flight Simulation Association here and check out both their membership benefits as well as some of their freely available content.
The Flight Simulation Association launch as not been well received in all circles and there has been criticism of the initial offering. The ‘Something big is coming’ hype lead to plenty of speculation. Some of the speculation built up to some high and occasionally outlandish expectations.
I read comments from people speculating that P3D and X-Plane were getting together to release a new sim, or that Laminar Studios was releasing X-Plane 12, or that some sort of cross sim play was being introduced given the number of companies and outlets posting. When it was revealed that the ‘big thing’ was a sim association, a lot of people were disappointed. Others were not enthused about the membership fee and potential of a pay wall in-front of some content.
By mid afternoon today, the organizers released a statement on Facebook admitting that the launch had not been what they had hoped for and sought to clarify the goals of the the FSA.
The intention here is to build something for the future. For new simmers, to help them understand and find all these great free resources that you sometimes need to know about to get to. And for experienced simmers, to find ways to keep us connected between the big flight sim shows. Not necessarily behind a paywall.Flight Sim Association on Facebook
In light of community feedback, one group, iniSimulations, has decided to pull back from the discount offering. They announced the change in direction with a short three part statement on Twitter.
Other groups appear to be sticking with the FSA. The X-Plane Official account, for example, was more jubilant with a welcome message posted in the morning to Twitter.
Most of you know by now that I’m always interested in the latest that’s happening around the community and that I do my best to get the word out. Then you choose if it’s something you’re interested in too or if it’s something you want to give a pass to.
Anything that promotes the interests of flight simulation and flight sim pilots has my attention. When the organizers reached out to me with their idea, I was interested in the concept and I thought the big picture ideas around it held promise. Although it’s not entirely clear if the FSA has aspirations that are this large, organizations like the EAA were firmly in mind when the idea was described to me. A well put together association has the potential to bring communities together and to grow the hobby and anything that attempts to grow our hobby has my attention.
There are certainly legitimate concerns around the membership fee. Are the discounts worth the fee? Will the content and webinars offer anything above and beyond what is already available around the community for free? Will the promise of future advocacy for the hobby and community lead to greater uptake of people into the genre? Some of that is hard to know and other parts are a decision that everyone will have to make for themselves. If you buy a lot of add-ons through the year, the $30 yearly fee might be worth it to you on its own. If the other benefits intrigue you then it may be worth checking into them with the free initial trial. If none of it appeals at all, you can also give it a pass with no harm and no foul.
For my part, I’m going to continue to remain in contact with the organizers of the new initiative, I’m going to continue to listen to what people are saying around the community, and of course I’d love to hear the constructive thoughts and ideas from readers here at Stormbirds.blog. I’m sure this will be a controversial idea for some time to come. I also think that the idea has promise and potential if it is able to grow into something valuable for flight sim enthusiasts like ourselves and bring in new hobbyists too. As usual, I remain optimistic while casting a critical eye on the situation. Time will, of course, tell how this will turn out.