Several developers have taken to Facebook to express their unhappiness with some recent changes regarding the SimMarket installer policy. The unhappiness seems particularly aimed at a recent change to the SimMarket policy regarding future updates and simulator support, and was understood by some that future updates for SimMarket products will no longer remain free of charge. We have asked SimMarket for a statement on the policy changes, and received a very comprehensive answer that explains quite well what has changed for developers, of which we have summarised the important and relevant parts.
To begin with, the SimMarket installer is a service that SimMarket offers to developers so they don’t have to make their own installer. You have probably seen and/or used the SimMarket installer, since it’s quite common for developers that publish their products through SimMarket. However, this installer service is entirely optional and developers are also free to create their own installers for products. Installers are a complementary SimMarket service for new products, as are updated installers with hot fixes shortly after release. Furthermore, updating a product by supplying a patch or .zip file is free.
When a developer creates an update of their scenery due to, for example, a flight simulator version change, they can choose to sell this as a new product (for example: Prepar3D v5 compatible product). As long as this product is a paid product with a minimum upgrade fee of €5 for existing customers, the SimMarket installer remains free for the developer. The minimum fee of €5 applies to these products due to the commission (30%) that goes to SimMarket itself. This is the minimum amount required for the services they provide, such as server upkeep, personnel costs, marketing, etc.
These rules have all previously been established, and are not what the developer unhappiness is about. A new addition to the installer policy sees the commission that goes to SimMarket increase with 1%, every time a developer asks SimMarket to create a new, free installer to include additional flight simulator versions. This would mean that a product that currently works on P3Dv4 and would receive a free update to P3Dv5 would have a 31% SimMarket commission, and if on top of that Microsoft Flight Simulator would get added (as an example), the commission would rise to 32%.
This new addition is what has developers, and in turn some members of the community, worried about the future of product updates that may or may not include additional flight simulator versions. It remains yet to be seen how developers will respond to the updated installer policy, and if this potential increase in costs will be charged to the customer. But the statement provided by SimMarket certainly does bring a lot more nuance on upgrade pricing, which has been a debated topic in the community as developers are considering different update strategies to support current and future simulator updates.