The first Microsoft Flight Simulator (opens in new tab) came on a single 360kb 5.25 inch floppy disc. Back then you had to run the program directly from the disc, as it wasn't designed to be installed on a rare-at-the-time hard drive.
That was back in 1982: fast forward 38 years, and the forthcoming 2020 version of Microsoft Flight Simulator comes on a whopping ten DVDs, amounting to 85GB, meaning the original Flight Sim could fit on those discs at least 236,000 times. Maths!
Aerosoft is the official retail partner for Microsoft Flight Simulator, and if you're averse to giant downloads or just like physical game boxes, the package looks pretty sweet. In addition to the ten discs there's a printed manual, which is a pleasant novelty indeed in 2020.
Still, that 85GB is far less than the 150GB (opens in new tab) required according to Microsoft. Notwithstanding compression, Aerosoft gave a bit of a rundown of what exactly comes on the discs. There's the simulator code (which is apparently quite small), as well as "the world and aircraft delivered by Microsoft" which will come in at around 90GB. The discs also host a variety of optional content including third party files and "optional online streamed content." Overall, you won't be losing anything with the physical version: once the bulk of the game is installed from the discs, any updates will roll in from Microsoft's servers.
It probably goes without saying, but buying the physical version won't allow you to play the game with no internet connection: Microsoft Flight Simulator is heavily reliant on the cloud. "This is very much a simulator that depends on the cloud if you want to use it to its full potential," an Aerosoft spokesperson wrote (opens in new tab). "So the boxed version makes it possible for people on a slower internet connection to get the sim installed without downloading the 'content'."
The Microsoft Flight Simulator release date (opens in new tab) is surprisingly close: after a closed beta kicking off July 30, it'll be available for everyone on August 18.