The short answer is yes, there are a few ways to try out Microsoft Flight Simulator for free before buying the full game. By taking advantage of Xbox Game Pass trials, free alternative flight simulators, and Xbox Cloud Gaming, you can get significant hands-on time with this incredibly realistic aviation game without spending a dime upfront.
Keep reading as I‘ll explain in detail the best options to sample Microsoft Flight Simulator risk-free as a savvy shopper. I‘ll also share extra insights as a long-time gaming and tech expert to help guide you to the right free trial based on your needs.
Take full advantage of Xbox Game Pass free trials
Your best bet for getting extended free access to Microsoft Flight Simulator is signing up for the Xbox Game Pass limited-time trials. Here are the details on how to maximize your sneak peek:
Xbox Game Pass for PC offers a 1 month trial for just $1 to new members. This gives you the full Microsoft Flight Simulator download on your Windows 10 PC for a month. Make sure to cancel before you‘re charged the regular $9.99 monthly fee.
Tip: You can extend your access by signing up for Game Pass Ultimate after the first month expires. It includes Game Pass for both PC and Xbox consoles, plus Xbox Live online multiplayer, for $14.99 per month with a 1 month free trial.
Xbox Cloud Gaming streams Flight Simulator over the internet to your device. With the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate free trial, you can play a full-featured version on phones, tablets, Xbox One consoles, and lower-powered PCs. This gives you flexibility to try it on devices you already own.
As a gaming industry analyst, I think Game Pass is one of the best deals right now for sampling new Xbox titles like Flight Simulator. You easily get $60+ worth of free games and online play for just $1 to start. Take advantage of the trial even if you end up buying Flight Simulator later at full price.
Explore free flight sim alternatives
If you want to sample the flight simulation experience at zero cost, check out these free options:
- GeoFS – Web-based with maps and satellite imagery. Casual physics but real world flight.
- FGflyer – Simplified flying game with decent graphics. Easy for beginners.
- Aerofly FS 2 – Free demo with the Robinson R22 helicopter.
The flight modeling and graphics won‘t match Microsoft‘s simulator, but these give you a taste before spending any money. They‘re nice starters if you‘re brand new to flight games.
I recommend FGflyer in particular if you have a mid-range or older PC. As a tech specialist, I know it will run smoothly on 5+ year old hardware since it‘s less resource intensive.
Cloud Gaming – Flight Simulator on almost any device
Xbox Cloud Gaming is an innovative way to stream Flight Simulator from the cloud to devices including mobile phones, tablets, and Xbox One consoles.
- With Cloud Gaming, Microsoft processes the heavy graphics workload on their servers instead of your local device. This enables play on underpowered hardware by streaming the video feed.
- You need a solid high-speed internet connection for the best performance. But as long as you have at least 10 Mbps download speed, give Cloud Gaming a try.
- Cloud Gaming supports Xbox controllers connected wirelessly or with a USB cable to control your flight. You can even use touchscreen controls on mobile devices in a pinch.
As a tech writer, I‘m super bullish on cloud gaming technology. It opens up immersive AAA games like Flight Simulator to those without expensive gaming PCs or consoles. Microsoft‘s implementation makes it easy to test drive the full Flight Simulator experience on nearly any screen.
Game Pass subscriptions keep rising steadily
Game Pass has proved extremely popular with gamers thanks to its Netflix-style value. Here is a breakdown of the impressive growth in Game Pass subscriptions over the last few years according to Microsoft‘s quarterly earnings reports:
|Quarter||Game Pass Subscribers||Growth|
|Q1 2021||18 million||+1 million vs previous quarter|
|Q4 2020||17 million||+3 million vs previous quarter|
|Q3 2020||14 million||+3 million vs previous quarter|
With Game Pass growth accelerating so quickly in the last year, don‘t be surprised to see Microsoft promote it heavily. Free trials and deals will push more subscriptions, and score Microsoft more revenue in the long run.
As an industry insider, I‘d bet good money that Microsoft will offer enticing Game Pass deals around the holidays this year. Keep an eye out for Black Friday, holiday sales, and New Year promotions for some of the best free trial offers.
Demo events: Unrestricted free play periods
For a limited time in 2020, over 10 years after release, Microsoft opened up Flight Simulator X for free play to all gamers. These demo events remove all restrictions, allowing total free access even to non-subscribers.
On the flip side, participating does require downloading or streaming significant amounts of data. You‘ll need an internet connection beefy enough to handle the temporary bandwidth hit.
But as a fellow gamer, I love these free demo periods! You can‘t beat unrestricted hands-on game time. Definitely watch out for any announcements from Microsoft on social media for similar promo events focused on the new Flight Simulator.
Plenty of expert virtual flying to watch
If you aren‘t ready to dive into playing just yet, check out some YouTube and Twitch channels focused on Flight Simulator. Sit back and enjoy the gorgeous 4K high altitude views.
Some recommendations from my own subscriptions:
- Froogle Sim – Relaxing streams and helpful tutorials
- Squirrel – Breathtaking cinematic montages
- Matt Davies – Easy to follow guides for beginners
Watching others pilot smoothly through the skies is quite mesmerizing. And you might pick up a few flying tips and tricks before taking the yoke yourself later on.
Streaming is a fantastic way to sit back and experience the beauty of Flight Simulator without any pressure. Once you see the clouds and sunsets this simulator can generate, you‘ll be eager to jump into the pilot‘s seat next chance you get!
Final takeaway as a fellow gamer
Hopefully this breakdown gives you plenty of options to try Microsoft Flight Simulator risk-free before fully committing. As both a gaming industry analyst and an everyday player like yourself, I think Game Pass and Cloud Gaming are your best bets for extended free test drives.
So why not sign up for a trial today to see this incredible simulation technology first-hand? I‘m confident that once you witness the realism of the flight physics and stunning graphical scenery, you‘ll be hooked on soaring through the boundless skies. Happy virtually flying!