- There is a mod that enables us to swap the original in-game maps for more detailed Google maps;
- Improvement in sharpness and color of textures is significant, photogrammetry has not changed;
- The modification raises serious legal questions and it seems that its days are numbered.
It might seem that Microsoft Flight Simulator is doomed to use Bing satellite maps, which has been a source of dissatisfaction for many users. Compared to competing Google satellites, Microsoft's satellite photos are lower quality, less colorful, often outdated, and cover less of the world. Regions not present on Bing maps are generated automatically by the game and their quality leaves much to be desired.
However, a mod has appeared that enables us to replace the original maps from the game with free versions from Google's servers. The mod can even replace automatically generated fragments of satellite maps with their real equivalents from Google. The attached video shows the significant difference after the swap, especially when it comes to roads and the sharpness of finer details; the colors also seem more natural. The photogrammetry remains original and is based on Bing server resources.
It is not known how the practice of unauthorized use of Google maps resources to modify Microsoft's game will be received by both companies. The author of the above video wrote that his post about the mod was removed by moderators of the game's official forum within 20 minutes. Some Reddit users believe that the minimal increase in the use of Google satellite maps by a relatively low number of fans Microsoft Flight Simulator using this modification will remain unnoticed. The California-based giant's maps are widely used every day by hundreds of millions of people around the world, especially in phones and car navigation.
Other users cite the example of the TileProxy Project mod for Microsoft Flight Simulator X, which also swaps satellite maps in the game. Its author received an official cease and desist letter from Google, ordering him to stop using Google's map resources in violation of Google's terms of service, despite it using a publicly available API. This happened over ten years ago. What will happen in this case, we will see. Perhaps Microsoft and Google will come to an agreement, and fans will get nicer and more accurate maps in the game? Here's to hoping. It will certainly be a hot topic in the fan community.
On November 18 Microsoft Flight Simulator will receive a free update to the Game of the Year edition, which we wrote about here. The update will be available on PC and Xbox Series X/S consoles.
- Microsoft Flight Simulator - official website
- Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Review – The Biggest Sandbox Ever
- Microsoft Flight Simulator - game guide