Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 triggered a flight stick glut

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How could they not see this coming?

In context: Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2020 just launched last week. Longtime fans are probably already set to enjoy the game to its fullest, but new users will want to invest in a decent flight stick to have the most fun. Many of them have already figured this out, judging by the lack of availability of HOTAS controllers.

A quick perusal of Amazon’s flight stick offerings reveals that some of the best and most affordable hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) controllers, such as the Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X, are sold out. Amazon lists them as “In Stock,” but this is through second-hand vendors who are selling them for outrageously over-inflated prices.

For example, the previously mentioned T-Flight usually sells directly from Thrustmaster for $80 new. Right now, you can get it for about $190 used. The slightly better (IMO) Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS usually goes for $180. Now you can get a used one for the low, low price of $319. The glut of flight sticks is not isolated to Amazon. Manufactures are sold out on their webpages as well. Although you might be able to find them here and there if you look around long enough.

HOTAS fight sticks are generally not a fast-selling item, so sellers keep inventories to a minimum. Supplies will eventually replenish, but those without the patience to wait should expect to spend close to $200 or more even for a used entry-level stick.

It is unclear why Thrustmaster and Logitech didn’t anticipate the demand for their flight sim products. Flight Simulator 2020 is a significant and highly anticipated update to the franchise that was already nailing early reviews. Virtually all critics ranked it “excellentm” earning it a Metascore of 94. User scores were not as shining, but that was largely caused by problems with the Steam trial timer not being long enough to survive the download.

The physical version of Flight Simulator 2020 spans 10 double-layer DVDs. Granted, much of that is optional material, but the required portions still weigh in at over 90GB. People were running into a situation where the two-hour refund timer was expiring before or not long after the core program even finished downloading.

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In any event, the lack of flight sticks seems like an oversight by manufacturers. Even if the surge in demand was unexpected, the companies lost out on the sales going directly to second-hand sellers.

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