Lockheed Martin has just announced the version 3 of Prepar3D (see this news on LM blog). This is a major version which implied to buy a new licence. So what’s wrong ? The flight simulation community should be happy, isn’t it ? Shouldn’t we celebrate that our favorite hobby gets supported by a company bringing evolution and updates… and new features ? New features, really ? Does this new version worth a mjor digit (v3) ? Overall and after checking the release note, is there something that justify a major v3 upgrade and that Pro users (have a look to P3D licence) put $199* again ?
First of all, forget about upgrade program and discount licence for former Prepar3D v2.x or v1.x customer As stated on Lockheed Martin web site :
I have Prepar3D v1/v2, do I get an upgrade or a discount for Prepar3D v3?
If you have purchased Prepar3D v1/v2 within 60 days of your purchase, per the refund policy, you can request a refund and then purchase the desired license of Prepar3D v3. There are no exchanges, upgrades, or discounts available.
Prepar3D is really out of the personal market (I’m not writing “entertainment”). I respect the usage licence and bought a Profesional licence in December 2013 for $199… With the v3.0 out in few day, I have to pay again two years later. OK. It’s the rule of the game. But don’t expect a cool software upgrade. You have to uninstall your existing setup and reinstall everything. Yes. Everything. Again and again. Version 2.x customers spent hours uninstalling and reinstallation P3D with the whole and numerous addons that we all have. It’s time again to reinstal all our addons (about gigs of sceneries, to textures enhancement and planes addons), which we did during every 2.1, 2.2, 2.3… until last 2.5.
Is there really new contents ? New features in this version 3 ?
So what about new content ? As a major digit (from 2 to 3), we can expect to have plenty of revolutionalized stuff in this new version ! Refering to official v3 release notes (see : http://www.prepar3d.com/SDKv3/LearningCenter/what_is_new/new_v30.html), finally it’s disapointment. There are very few real major new stuffs.
I don’t feel concern by SimDirector functionnality. Actually, I never see an application using the SimDirector. Ok, what’s next ? AutoDesk Scaleform ? Adobe Flash available in gauges ? No kidding ? The same Adobe Flash that eats as much as memory available in the browser world ? Do you really want it in Prepar3D where we have yet to deal with VAS memory ?! Sounds like a feature created to make something new on the press release. Something to fill the list.
Let’s continue. A new avatar ? It looks more like a… toy for gamer than a feature worth $199 for a professional product out of the entertainment market (not to mention higher pricey licence version). New vehicles in the v3 ? A fighter F35A and an helicopter H90 ? Are you kidding me ? It looks like extra stuffs for the entertainment users again. Do the (serious) flight sim community relies on included aircrafts provided by Prepar3D ? Where they are so much addon companies providing high quality products (A2A, PMDG, Carenado and Alabeo to name a few) not to mention so many free addons - sometime at higher quality - than payware. Any new state of the art quality scenery included in this v3 ? Something to train on hotspot taxiing ? No. Move on. Not in the v3.
Let’s continue reading this v3 release notes, they are 238 different topics. Among these 238, 122 deal with fixed bugs. More than half of the v3 release note deals with bug fixes ! Some bug fixes are really major fixes customers may expect for free… from the v2.x : like the SLI that never really works as a… real SLI (see the bug fixe related to SLI in v3) and Windows 8.1 users who loose they USB controllers. These are not new feature worthing a v3, it bug fixes that current customers may expect from their $199 v2.x money !
Oh, by the way among the 238 items, some are really funny. “Updated About Menu” is one of them. No seriously ? LM has updated the “About menu” and make it a new features/topic/item for version 3 !? SERIOUSLY ???? I believe a marketing guy was in front of this list and think “Hey guy from the dev, is that all you can bring to me on this major release ? Hum… let’s add some others”. You want another example ? In the “Platform Improvement” section : “Fixed and updated multiple areas in the Learning Center”. For those who don’t know the Learning Center is a kind of help file for Prepar3D. Nice to hear that I have to pay $199 for an updated version of the help guide.
Finally, I don’t know yet what I’m gonna do with this v3. Ok, that’s a market law. Companies like Lockheed Martin has to make business and sell their products to continue paying developper and continue feeding the market with “new” product. Customers may or not buy them. It’s their choice. It’s our choice. It’s my choice.
Let’s wait few days to have some feedbacks from other users and get from them feedbacks. Maybe the planned obsolescence, so common on other industrialized maket, have reach the flight simulation community and will stuck me, happy so far, with the version 2 of Prepar3D.
* By the way the P3D licence policy, which is really a controversial topic because most of people don’t want to read the line with the red X’s (Personal Consumer Entertainment is FORBIDEN) , has been slightly simplified :
This doesn’t change a thing for myself. I’m not undergraduate. Only the professional licence apply to my usage. $199. Period.