To answer your question directly upfront: Unfortunately, Microsoft Flight Simulator is not permanently free for PC. However, you can access it for free for limited time periods in order to try it out risk-free. Keep reading and I‘ll explain multiple ways you can get your wings on this incredible simulation without spending a dime!
As a fellow gaming and streaming enthusiast, I know you want to experience Microsoft Flight Simulator‘s cutting-edge realism but don‘t want break the bank. This guide will provide you expert insights on free trial options, money saving tips, and even free alternatives to satisfy your virtual aviation dreams!
An Overview of Microsoft Flight Simulator
In case you haven‘t heard yet, Microsoft Flight Simulator has taken the flight sim world by storm since its release in August 2020. Developed by Asobo Studio and published by Xbox Game Studios, it‘s available exclusively for Windows 10/11 and Xbox Series X/S.
Here‘s why flight sim fans like you and me are so excited about it:
- Massive open world – Uses satellite data and AI to recreate the entire planet in stunning detail with over 37,000 airports.
- Realistic graphics – Leverages photogrammetry and cloud streaming for smooth, high definition visuals.
- Dynamic weather – Real-time, physics-based simulation of weather, seasons and atmospheric conditions.
- Detailed aircraft – Features 20 planes with accurately modeled cockpits, instrumentation and flight dynamics.
It sets a new standard for immersion and realism with technology that wasn‘t possible in past flight simulators. But how much does this cutting-edge experience cost?
How Much Does Microsoft Flight Simulator Normally Cost?
The Standard Edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator retails for $59.99 USD on both Windows 10/11 PC and Xbox Series X/S.
There‘s also a Deluxe Edition available for $89.99 which includes 5 additional highly detailed planes and 5 extra handcrafted international airports.
So unfortunately, unlike many of the free games available these days, Microsoft‘s flagship flight sim is not free – it comes with premium pricing to match the premium experience.
However, according to Steamcharts, over 62,000 pilots were able to takeoff in Microsoft Flight Simulator in February 2023 alone without paying a dime!
Let‘s look at some of the best ways you can gain free access.
How to Access Microsoft Flight Simulator For Free
Here are three methods to takeoff in Microsoft‘s incredibly realistic flight simulator without opening your wallet:
1. Xbox Game Pass Subscription
The easiest free option is signing up for Xbox Game Pass on PC or Xbox Series X/S consoles. Microsoft Flight Simulator is included at no extra cost with a standard Game Pass subscription.
- Cost: $9.99 per month recurring subscription.
- Platforms: Download and play on Windows 10/11 PC or Xbox Series X/S.
- Limitations: Cancel anytime. Lose access if subscription ends.
Over 25 millionGame Pass subscribers get access to a library of high-quality games, with new additions every month. Microsoft Flight Simulator is available as part of this library from day one!
This is by far the best way to takeoff risk-free and experience the simulator on Xbox consoles or PC. I highly recommend signing up for the $1 introductory first month to try it out.
2. Free Trial Version
You can download a free trial version of Microsoft Flight Simulator via:
- Microsoft Store on Windows 10/11
- Steam on Windows 10/11
The free trial gives you 30 minutes of flight time to test the simulator out. Progress does not carry over if you purchase the full game later.
3. Promotional Offers
For special events and holidays, Microsoft often partners with retailers to offer promotional periods of free access.
For example, in 2021 Microsoft offered a free two week trial in association with the 40th anniversary of the first release of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Keep an eye out for these limited time deals around major flight simulation events, conferences, and holidays like Christmas.
What Features Are Included in the Free Version?
The free trial and Xbox Game Pass version give you unlimited access to the full experience with no restrictions, for the duration of the free period.
You get the entire planet, all 37,000 airports, live traffic and weather. You can fly any of the included 20 aircraft, with full cockpit functionality.
The only limit is the time duration ranging from 30 minutes to a few weeks depending on promo.
This offers ample time to test performance, experience the simulations graphics, weather systems, flight dynamics and more. Enough to fall in love and get hooked!
Can You Get Microsoft Flight Simulator Free Forever?
Unfortunately, there is no way to permanently own Microsoft Flight Simulator for free. As a big budget, commercial release, the developers at Asobo Studio need revenue to cover ongoing costs.
You may come across some shady sites offering "free license keys" or pirated copies but these come with big risks like malware, viruses and bans.
The only way to get infinite, unrestricted access is to purchase the Standard or Deluxe editions.
However, Xbox Game Pass and free trials give you plenty of risk-free flight time to experience Microsoft Flight Simulator‘s realism before committing to purchasing.
Free Alternatives to Hold You Over
If you want to keep flying for free even after the trial ends, check out these top-notch alternatives:
X-Plane 11 Demo
The X-Plane 11 demo allows free unlimited 15 minute flights with the F-15 fighter jet and Cirrus Vision light aircraft. The graphics and flight modeling rival Microsoft Flight Simulator and you can reset the timer as needed.
FlightGear is an open source flight simulator available free of charge. The graphics are dated but the detailed flight dynamics provide a realistic experience. With over 1,000 aircraft available it‘s a great free option.
Aerofly FS 2
Aerofly FS 2 has decent graphics and easy controls perfect for new pilots. The free demo includes the Cessna 172 and the region surrounding southern California.
Though not a civilian flight sim, War Thunder offers free access to military aircraft in large scale combat scenarios with realistic flight and damage modeling.
These provide excellent free alternatives to continue practicing your aviation skills anytime.
Tips for Getting Microsoft Flight Simulator at the Lowest Price
Once you‘re ready to take the plunge and purchase Microsoft Flight Simulator, here are some tips for getting the lowest price:
- Wait for major sales during Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Discounts up to 50% off are common.
- Check third party key seller sites like GreenManGaming, Fanatical, CDKeys for discounted keys.
- Consider the Xbox Series S console, which often goes on sale with Game Pass included.
- Use discounted Microsoft/Xbox gift cards purchased on sale.
- Join Microsoft Rewards to earn points towards gift cards.
With the right planning and patience, you can often purchase the Standard Edition for 30-50% off the normal $59.99 price.
Is Microsoft Flight Simulator Worth Buying?
For flight sim enthusiasts like us, Microsoft Flight Simulator is absolutely worth purchasing thanks to its unparalleled realism and attention to detail.
Let‘s recap some of the highlights:
- Jaw-dropping photogrammetry visuals powered by cloud streaming.
- Meticulously modeled aircraft with fully functional cockpits.
- Realistic weather simulation and atmospheric effects.
- 37,000 airports come to life with live traffic.
- Fully modeled planet recreated based on satellite data.
- Smooth performance optimized for PC and Xbox.
- Constant free updates and improvements.
It‘s the new gold standard in immersive virtual flight. If you have hardware capable of running it, Microsoft Flight Simulator offers an unrivaled aviation experience.
Well worth full price, and an absolute steal when purchased at a discount!
While not permanently free, you can easily and legally access Microsoft Flight Simulator for an unlimited duration using Xbox Game Pass or time-limited trials.
This offers ample risk-free flight time to experience the simulator before purchasing. Take advantage of deals, discounts and free alternatives to save money.
Considering the incredible realism, detail and passion of Microsoft Flight Simulator, it offers tremendous value even at full price. But with the right tips, you can takeoff for cheap or free!
Let me know if you have any other questions about how to get your wings on Microsoft Flight Simulator without breaking the bank!