Introducing: The X-Plane Store

Thomson Meeks
The X-Plane Store announcement image

Introducing: The X-Plane Store!

We’re taking the X-Plane add-on experience to the next level by creating a marketplace where developers can sell their products directly to users within the app. This platform will streamline the customer experience when purchasing content for X-Plane and equip developers to continue their great work for the platform. Here’s a quick rundown on what that means for you and some common questions that we have seen online.

What this means for Users:

  • Streamlined shopping experience online and within the X-Plane app itself
  • Account infrastructure that ensures you never lose access to products that you have purchased (no more activation keys!)
  • Transparent reviews for all products
  • Automatic download/installation/updates of products into X-Plane (no more juggling zip files all over the place)
  • Stringent quality review of all add-ons to ensure high quality and safety
  • Version-compatibility filtering
  • Easy, secure payment methods

What this means for Developers:

  • Increased visibility for their products/higher conversion rates
  • Built-in DRM system for Aircraft and Plugins provided at no additional cost (maybe scenery too, we’re working on it)
  • Clear guidelines on acceptance criteria/support expectations

Q. When will the X-Plane Store be available?

We’re planning for launch in 2024. My money is on Q3 but the quality of the user experience will be our driver for this at the end of the day.

Q. Are we locking down X-Plane? (Will all add-ons have to come from the store?)

No! Absolutely not! X-Plane will continue to load non-store add-ons just like it does now.

I cannot emphasize this strongly enough: we are not locking down X-Plane. In Montreal, Austin talked about how hackability (the ability to change X-Plane and explore its insides, not the piracy kind of hacking) is a core X-Plane value; almost everyone in the room got their start in X-Plane by poking at the insides and making mods and add-ons, and we are not going to change that.

Basically: the store will be a new thing that provides a good user experience for buying and installing an add-on, but we are not removing what is there. So existing add-ons will continue to “just work” because they are not affected by the store.

Q. Will my existing add-ons still work?

Yes! We are not blocking any add-ons from third parties from loading and we are not taking away anything that would allow third parties to install and run add-ons.

Q. Will freeware still work?

Yes! We will still load scenery packs, aircraft and plugins just like before – if the add-on is not a store add-on, it will load as normal.

Q. Will authors who sell on the X-Plane store have to sell exclusively on the store?

No! We are not requiring exclusive agreements to sell in our store.

Q. Can anyone sell on the store?

Selling on the X-Plane Store will be open to any author who meets our acceptance criteria! The store will have a quality control process with clear guidelines on what can be sold with customer experience as our top priority.

Q. Are my purchases from other stores going to transfer over?

While still in active development, our plan is to provide a utility to help developers with transitioning existing purchases if they choose to do so 🙂

Q. Will add-ons with SASL/Gizmo/etc. encryption still work?

Yes – just like any other plugin or add-on, these tools will continue to work as normal. If the developers of SASL/Gizmo aircraft want to sell their products in our store, and thus use our DRM, their plugins will require minor modifications to account for this.

Q. Are you killing off the .org/x-aviation or other vendors?

Nope! We’ve made design choices from the beginning of this project to ensure that we do not inhibit any competition. In fact, we welcome it!

Q. Is X-Plane going to turn into a crazy ad-fest now that there’s a commerce component to the app?

Heavens no! That is the exact opposite of what we think a good user experience.

Q. Are you going to impose any QA on the store?

Yes. All items sold in our store will be subject to well documented standards. That will ensure that when someone buys something from us, it will work as advertised and meet our minimum standards for a quality X-Plane add-on. Items that cannot meet this criteria will still be fair game to be sold other places and used in X-Plane.

Q. What will you do about add-ons that become outdated in the store?

We plan to have version-compatibility metadata for add-ons as part of the store, so that upgrades happen together (sim and add-ons) and don’t leave the sim in a broken state. This is something we have some experience with from the mobile ecosystem (where users with old phones get “stuck” on old versions).

Q. Will DRM lock me out of modding my add-ons?

Not by default! Our model for DRM is “policy-based”, which is fancy-talk for “the amount of DRM is configurable per add-on.” So authors will have the flexibility to control what gets DRM’d to match their risk profile and what degree of control their user communities have.

It’s worth noting that this is happening now; plenty of premium aircraft ship with encrypted Lua scripts, and these scripts cannot be modified. So there is flexibility for the author to replicate that.

Q. Is Laminar going to force me into a subscription now they have a store?

Product subscriptions are not in the launch spec for our store. We may allow individual creators to make content available on a subscription basis in the future, depending on demand.

Q. Will we host freeware on the store?

This is not a launch feature for us. We definitely see a future where curated, high-quality freeware is available on our store – like Zibo, Zero Dollar Payware and ostensibly… other freeware developers whose name starts with ‘Z’.

Q. Regional pricing?

No, this could change based on feedback from authors selling in the store. We would also need a large amount of historical sales data to correctly assess buying power and demand elasticities in various markets.

Q. Will we be jacking up the prices/inserting a premium on products?

No. We have a store commission, but it will be in line with what most stores charge today. We see this more as an opportunity to really engage and harmonize the X-Plane experience.

Q. Will you automatically handle installation and scenery management?

We will automatically handle installation for store add-ons. Just like you never need to unzip/install an app on your iPhone, your X-Plane Store purchases will be waiting for you in the sim once the automatic download has concluded.

Q. Is the store web-based, or in-app?

Both! The store will be open for business within the X-Plane App and on the web.

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