If you are reading this content, you probably know what this is all about. We have had examples in the past, with airliners and, most recently, helicopters.
Hey, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it, right? Problem solved.
Indeed, and that’s what I do (and I hope you do too). But I can’t stop thinking about those community members that will buy it because they don’t know better or didn’t pay attention to the rating. And yes, again, playing devil’s advocate, they should.
Still, I think we could do better. Or Microsoft could do better.
Some users defend that Microsoft should not allow these to be sold at all, which can raise some questions. While the marketplace is within their realm and they will screen partners who apply to their program, the truth is that I believe it would be hard to draw a line.
What’s the threshold for a product to be considered for the marketplace? One that has 80% of the systems running? Which 80%? What about everything except a working landing gear, for example? That’s over 80%, right? What’s 80% anyway? How do we measure it?
How do we classify a 3D model? Should it have to be similar to the real one up to another percentage? What about sounds and textures?
Oh yes, we can quantify them for sure. We sure do so here at HeliSimmer.com when we do reviews. But that’s our opinion and despite knowing that we may influence some people to buy or not buy a product (although that is not our goal), we are not preventing developers from having it available at a store for the consumers to make a decision.
So, again, what’s the line that Microsoft should draw? Would it be fair and impartial? Even legal (I genuinely ask as I have no idea)?
I don’t believe Microsoft should be the one preventing developers from selling on their platform, although I do believe they could do a better job at deciding who gets in. There are some very blatant cases of products that seem to be just ways of grabbing a quick buck. That’s why having humans look into things is important. It’s not all about data and you sometimes have to go with your perception of the article.
There’s something else that is also very important and I and Joe Hudson were talking about it some days ago. Microsoft Flight Simulator (or any simulator for that matter) is not a product just for the (forgive me the expression) “hardcore” or “serious” simmer (I really hate those expressions).
These are flight simulation games (you can throw hate comments down below) that everyone should be able to access. In fact, Microsoft said, from day one, that they wanted the sim accessible to everyone: from the person that never tried a sim to the seasoned veteran (I like this expression a bit more).
And the newcomer may not need a (meaningless expression ahead) “study level” type of product.
Sometimes, these folks just want to fly around in something that looks like their favorite helicopter, even if the systems don’t match. Of course, it would be nice if the panel was that of an actual helicopter and the collective is on the correct side of the seat, but they are not into high-fidelity products.
And that’s OK because we don’t all like the same. Hey, I like helicopters. How weird is that, right?
So, it is OK to have products in the marketplace that are aimed at those users – with the right price tag. Should Microsoft prevent simpler helicopters from entering the market just because the seasoned veterans don’t find it interesting?
I don’t think so.
And before we start getting the “XBox users are ruining the sim” comments, let’s just stop there. No one is ruining anything. I don’t know of a single developer that has brought great aircraft in the past to be “dumbing down” their products. Actually, let me rephrase that: I don’t know of any of these developers that have abandoned high-fidelity helicopters to dedicate themselves to just these “lower-fidelity” helicopters.
And I say this because I have seen a company that may be doing simpler helicopters while they are still working on the high-fidelity stuff that we love.
So, what is it that Microsoft or anyone should do to prevent people from mistakenly buying a product?
First of all, people that buy products should really start looking at the ratings. If you get something that has a low rate, don’t complain about the fact that it’s bad. That 1-star should have been enough warning.
Other than that, I believe there’s more that could be done.
Allow users to add comments
Don’t just ask people to “star” a product. Encourage them to add a comment and say exactly what they think it’s good or bad. A great helicopter with 5 liveries can be OK with me but another user may think 5 is too low and give it 4 stars instead of 5 because of that. Seeing just the 4 stars is meaningless because I don’t know what the person that gave those stars actually valued.
If I see a 4-star rating and someone says it was because it only has 5 liveries, I would probably consider that to be a 5-star review instead because I really don’t care about the liveries.
Comments provide context and we need context to make informed decisions.
Allow users to upvote and downvote comments
“I give it 1 star because the number of rivets is wrong. Everything else is perfect but I need my rivets”.
Would you find this a helpful review? Yeah me neither. By the way, that helicopter above is the Blackbird Simulations (former Milviz) upcoming Huey for MSFS. Rivets, rivets everywhere.
Back on track here, I really don’t care about the rivet count. Is that comment helpful? Nope. It’s not. It should not be on top of the rating/comments section of that product for sure.
The ability to up and downvote comments helps a system understand which comments are helpful and should be presented to users and which ones are not worth showing at all.
People can then focus on helpful feedback from users.
This is not a new concept and Steam already uses it in their store. Curators are users that have a higher weight inside the comments system. There’s a section dedicated to curators that appear right before the “regular” reviews so people can check not only what they say but also other products they have commented on.
These curators are usually chosen by the platform as someone that better represents the community and is trustworthy.
The power of community
All in all, more than asking Microsoft to “do something” about these products, I think they should empower the community. Yes, they will need to verify if no one’s trying to sneak a flying sexual toy into the marketplace and make sure all the thumbnails and proper content are added.
Preventing companies or developers from selling their products because of “quality” (whatever the standards may be) may be opening a huge can of worms.
I believe in the community and I trust it to do a good job. Even if there are always some wise folks that troll these systems, users would have the option to downvote them and even get them to be hidden.
All we need are robust tools and we will solve the problem ourselves.