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Microsoft kills Flight & Project Columbia development; games firms flooding out of Vancouver

Microsoft's flight simulator game has been killed and brought back from the dead multiple times since early 2009, so it should come as no surprise that the most recent incarnation has once again been laid to rest.

The Redmond-based company confirmed Wednesday that it has ended development of Microsoft Flight, which was re-released in January to replace Flight Simulator, and Project Columbia, an interactive children's TV project. The company also plans to reassign 35 Vancouver-based studio jobs as a result of the shutdowns.

In an official statement from Microsoft, the company said it is always evaluating its projects to determine what is best for gamers, families, and the company, calling this decision "the result of the natural ebb and flow of our portfolio management."

The firm's decision to scrap Microsoft Flight and Project Columbia is steeped in the idea that this will help the company "better align with our long-term goals and development plans."

Microsoft has been providing gamers with a means to flight simulation for almost three decades, but the franchise was shut down in 2009 when Redmond closed ACES Studios, the developer of the Flight Simulator series. In August 2010, the game returned to consoles as Microsoft Flight.

In keeping with tradition, Microsoft turned the game into a free-to-play experience in February, allowing novice pilots to explore areas of Hawaii.

Now, the flight simulator will remain available as a free download, with a limited number of plans and locations.

Meanwhile, Project Columbia (video below), first announced last year, has also been sent to the glue factory. The Kinect-based project was set to partner with Sesame Street and National Geographic TV to allow kids to interact with the shows.

Original reports yesterday said that Microsoft had laid off the entire Vancouver-based studio, following two other drop-outs from the Canadian gaming industry – last week, Capcom laid off 20 employees from Vancouver and Rockstar moved its studio out of the city.