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Beware of the Abad Studios Scam

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Microsoft Flight Simulator has undoubtedly brought the masses to flight simulation. We have seen hundreds of products released for the platform since August 2020, but unfortunately, we are now being made aware of some developers distributing products they do not own the rights to in any way. The latest development is from a Spanish company named Abad Studios. This particular company is selling various Airbus models for use within Microsoft Flight Simulator. Those models include the A380, the A330, the A330 Beluga XL and others. The accusation is that Abad Studios are taking various payware models, repackaging them and then selling them to unsuspecting customers.

Our first indication of this new developer came from an email sent in showcasing FSP “X” AI’s A330 Beluga. The developer took the screenshots depicting the Abad Studios version compared to their own and concluded that the wireframe image paired perfectly. FSP “X” AI went one step further and compared the texture file to conclude exactly the same had happened here.

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This isn’t the only time Abad Studios have been caught using assets that don’t belong to them and then distributing the files. So far, the following comparisons have been made with results showcasing how widespread this really is:

  • Using the FlyByWire A32NX cockpit/systems
  • A330 form Wilco/Feelthere
  • Flight Factor’s A350

Some of this is evidenced by another Facebook user who compared various files with the Abad Studios’ version. The conclusion was the same as FSP “X” AI who could see there was no difference in various texture sets used.

Comparisons made by Hiroshi I.

Upon further investigation, we found that some customer who had actually purchased the €40.00 pack were left without any downloads to the products they purchased. User k8cpachuck on the official Microsoft Flight Simulator forums said that he spent €40.00 on the complete package only to spend days trying to get the download links. Eventually, this customer got the links, but then only to be told that if they wanted further updates, they would need to join the Abad Studios VIP Members club. This monthly recurring £3.00 fee would include future updates. To make matters worse, the email sent by Abad Studios contained the email and names of other customers. GDPR nightmare at its finest!  The customer, in this case, has said they will be filing a complaint to reverse the charges, but that would be down to the bank to sort out.

As we mentioned earlier, there are reports that the add-on uses FlyByWire’s A32NX modification. We reached out to the team who told us they have had “zero contact” with Abad Studios. The team said that whilst their current open source license (GPL v3) does dictate that anyone can use the content without explicit permission, the license does require that they release their product under the same license. This is not the case with the products being released by Abad Studios,

Further to the forum thread gaining traction, a request to delete it was sent to the customer. Obviously, that didn’t happen and the thread remains with over 2,000 views.

Whilst this is the first time we’ve seen them, Abad Studios has already seen others comment on their illegal business practices. YouTuber Drawyah has already made a comment about the situation on his Facebook page. He said that by “purchasing this add-on you’re enabling piracy and supporting vile scum.” He goes onto say that “the knock-on effect is that by rewarding these fakes, it encourages more copycat scammers to the same…”

He’s not wrong and with the increased number of simmers in the community, people like Daniel from Abad Studios will continue to take money from unsuspecting victims. Whilst we know many of our readers will see companies like Abad Studios and keep clear, for many flight simulation is still a new hobby and don’t always know what is a scam and what is legit. I’m sure if I was new to flight simulation and saw there was an A380 for Microsoft Flight Simulator for 10.00, I’d jump on that opportunity.

The evidence that Abad Studios is using models from payware products and systems from freeware mods and profiting from this is compelling. Various developers have confirmed that the models and texturing used by Abad Studios are indeed one of the same and did not give permission to them to sell them on.

We have reached out to Abad Studios for a comment, but at the time of publication, we haven’t heard back from them. We’ll update the article if we do hear back.

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