I being as a long-time FSX users switched to P3D recently, followings are my thoughts given to a friend who asked if it’s worth to “upgrade” from FSX to P3D.
Merely as a general pilot flight training aid, P3D doesn’t differ much from FSX in my experience.
Therefore, its $199.99 Professional (I’d rather call it a Basic) Licence price-tag is comparatively quite high. If someone wants to develop software for it, he/she has to pay an extra $9.95 to Lockheed Martin every month.
Even though its $59.95 Academic Licence seems to be more reasonable, users of this Licence should note that they are positioning themselves as undergraduate or K-12 or pilot students. I wonder how many users of this group are actually coming from the defined categories.
Moreover, there are many restrictions regarding the usage of the program as well as the development for the simulator as well. For example, I once asked for helps on the P3D forum regarding the loading error issue found on the Colorado Camping Weekend Day 1 mission by Vertical Studio, there were people coming out questioning me if such cross-platform conversion legitimate. To me, it’s a bit over reacted. I am just a general user and have no intention to resell or make profit from it.
Furthermore, P3D is known to have incompatibility issues with many FSX addons, either new or old, even though P3D is basically the inheritor of FSX.
No doubt, P3D excels the “long-time-ago developed” FSX in many aspects and potentially has many promising features with the use of newly emerged technologies. But frankly, most of these features are of no use to me (I believe the same to many users) at all.
And again, even though FSX or P3D as a basic flight training aid doesn’t differ much from each other, there are certain FSX support only training addons that does make FSX a more versatile one.
As far as I know, many pilot training schools are still using FSX as their simulation training platform. Also FSX systems are far more mature to get FAA approval, if necessary. At least for the time being it’s true.
Do I recommend switching to P3D from FSX?
To me, as a flightsimmer most of the time, P3D is only just an upgraded version of the FSX. It’s real attraction lies on its improved image rendering quality which does enhance my flightsimming experience.
To be more exact, the ambient lighting, the shadow, the HDR, and the 3D layering effects as well as clouds in P3D are more vivid. For the remainings, I give P3D 10% to 15% better than FSX in terms of overall quality.
Do note that this gap could get closer when both P3D and FSX are installed with similar good quality addons such as those regional sceneries from Orbx. And this quality difference could even be further narrowed by certain tweaks and/or ambient effect payware or freeware already developed for FSX.
Nevertheless, if image rendering quality is a prime concern to you as much as I demand it during flightsimming despite its high price, I would say YES.
But I wouldn’t call P3D a must-have replacement for FSX. It is still not cost-justified.
Also, be aware that you are very likely from now on losing many of your favorite simulation tools and addons forever.