FlyByWire Drops Out of Marketplace, Cites Licensing, Resources & SDK

September 17, 2021


The FlyByWire team has recently announced that the A320NX would no longer be available on the MSFS in-sim marketplace for the foreseeable future. This would mean that the A32NX and the upcoming A380X would not be available for Microsoft Flight Simulator pilots using the Xbox version of the simulator.

The team has propped up three main reasons behind the decision to pull out of the marketplace,  to summarise:  Limitations of the SDK, licensing challenges conflicting marketplace requirements, and the lack of resources to support the influx of users from the marketplace and the Xbox edition.

On the press release written by “Iceman”, one of the lead developers of the FBW team, he elaborates further; the decision to pull the aircraft from availability on the in-sim marketplace was primarily rooted in the teams decision to switch the A32NX licence from MIT back to GPL–3.0 over the overwhelming feedback within the team to uphold the teams commitment to free and open source software. The shift from MIT back to GPL-3.0 unfortunately does not comply with Microsoft’s requirement that all products on the marketplace NOT be licensed with GPL-3.0.

The team worked around that by creating a separate branch of the A32NX  which uses the MIT licence to comply with Microsoft's requirements for the in-sim Marketplace. While the plan technically worked, it has proven to be a challenge to maintain two branches of the same aircraft product; some contributors to the code has wished that their work would only be present on the GPL license version and not the MIT licensed marketplace edition, further complicating the task in reworking any infringing portions of the code for the marketplace edition.

Another major concern is the lack of resources to uphold the team’s quality control and support following the influx of new users from XBox and the marketplace, as the FBW team is made up of volunteers to put aside their free time to contribute to the project out of passion. Having to support two different versions of the same aircraft would overwhelm the Support and QA team.

Finally, the team noted that the SDK be made limited to what the entire team has envisioned to do for the A32NX, to work around that, the team has planned to simulate certain components of the aircraft systems externally, outside of the simulator, which would also be impossible to do in the XBox version of MSFS.

As a result of all of these factors, the difficult decision to drop the product from the marketplace was made to practically continue the effort to develop the most immersive and detailed A320neo simulation possible for the flight simulation community.

To read the original press release, visit the page on their website. As per usual, Threshold will stay in the loop so you can too!

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