Lockheed Martin Announces Prepar3D v6 Flight Simulator, and It's Certainly... Something

Published: June 24, 2023 6:59 PM /


Prepar3D v6

Today, during FlightSimExpo, Lockheed Martin (yes, that Lockheed Martin) revealed the next iteration of their flight simulator Prepar3D version 6

The new simulator, which will be released in July exclusively for PC, was revealed with a new trailer promising the following "Innovations."

• Lighting and shadows in Prepar3D are more realistic than any previous version around the globe
• An entirely new atmospheric model that brings unprecedented levels of realism and fidelity
• A streamlined update process, expected to result in significant time and bandwidth savings
• An increased focus on airports, including higher detail lighting models, surfaces and objects, in response to user feedback

I won't spoil the surprise and let you watch the trailer below.

You'll probably notice that the visuals don't look too hot, which may be surprising for many considering that Lockheed Martin is a massive corporation worth many billion dollars.

When Microsoft abandoned the flight simulation market after the closure of Ace Games Studio in 2009, Lockheed Martin acquired the license to use the engine and development kit of Microsoft Flight Simulator X with the clause that the resulting product cannot be used for entertainment purposes. 

This resulted in the release of Prepar3D version 1 in 2010. Of course, while it's theoretically a simulator dedicated to study and training only, there is no real way to enforce it, so it has been used by many for entertainment purposes ever since against the EULA, also generating a rather extensive market of add-ons similar to what we see today with Microsoft Flight Simulator

The issue with this arrangement is that despite being released in 2023, Prepar3D version 6 still uses the core engine of Microsoft Flight Simulator X, a product originally released in 2006, and that's certainly visible. 

Prepar3D thrived in the absence of Microsoft having to compete only with X-Plane until 2019 when the house of Xbox announced its return with Microsoft Flight Simulator. This pretty much demolished Prepar3D's unofficial market as an entertainment product, with many customers moving on to the new simulator and most of the third-party developers abandoning the platform in favor of Microsoft's much more lucrative market.

Funnily, during today's Q&A at FlightSimExpo, Prepar3D Product Lead Chris Metel, speaking about Microsoft leaving the market in 2009, mentioned "They're gonna do it again. I'll tell you, they're gonna do it again. Just give it time."

Mr. Metel's misplaced humor and wishful thinking aside, this is where we are now. Version 6 appears to have a focus shifted toward military simulation, which likely won't have much luck against the much more advanced (and free) DCS World exactly as it didn't against Microsoft Flight Simulator. Of course, proponents of Prepar3D (the remaining few), will say that it doesn't compete in the same market, but no product ever exists in a vacuum. 


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