South Jordan, UT - United States of America
Dongles aren't redundant -- they are copy protection mechanisms. The fact that it also functions as a transmitter is only a bonus. AFP also gives you a 'transmitter/dongle'. Reflex uses a USB->YOUR transmitter link for its dongle.
Personally, I'd rather wear out the TX interface that comes with RealFlight than give my real transmitter the same wear and tear.
New copies of RealFlight have costed about $200 for at least the past five years... Oddly enough, the same is true for Reflex and AreoFly Professional. So think about this for a second: Reflex (XTR), G3, and AFP all cost about $200 new.
G3 and AFP provide a TX interface, which doesn't require you to wear out your real radio on the sim (although they still allow you to do this out of the box).
XTR doesn't give you any choice -- you HAVE to use your radio. (And, this has both pros and cons; it should be obvious by now that I don't want to wear out my real TX on a simulator; but many don't want the 'extra' controller adding a few bucks to the cost)
And in every case -- they all cost the same for a new copy. The reason a used copy costs $100 is because that's what people can get away with charging, and because there are more than a few who feel it is a fair price.
These sims are expensive software because the market for them is so small. I've said this before (although because a Mac user was wondering why there isn't G3 for Macintosh; the reason is still the same) There aren't anywhere near as many people willing to buy a copy of as there are people willing to buy a copy of "Madden 2006", or "Microsoft Office". The only way companies like KnifeEdge or Reflex can turn a profit (and pay their employees) is to charge more for the final product. An R/C sim is not a mass-market product, but a very specialized niche product. And, as such, it's going to cost more.
If you don't believe that, look at the price of Reflex XTR, which does not come with a controller. XTR has a MSRP of 229 Euros; or $280 US (although most hobby shops have it for $190 US). This is about $10 less than G3, which has a full controller, not just a USB cable. So yes, the full interlink controller does add a bit to the cost. But nowhere near as much as you seem to believe.
I'm not affiliated with any of the sim makers in any way (other than being a guy who bought both G2 and G3); but I do know about making computer hardware and software (it being my profession and all...) If I were to guess the cost for the 'interlink controller' -- it probably costs about $20, and that's on the high side.
(If you don't believe that, then look at Logitech's website -- they have wireless usb controllers, with two analog sticks, a slider, pressure sensitive buttons (which aren't as cheap as a toggle switch), force-feedback; in other words, it actually has more functionality crammed into itself. Total cost: $29.)
The interlink controller just isn't an expensive piece of hardware; the truth is, it keeps software piracy down, and as a result keeps the retail price for new copies down as well. G3 will not work unless the interlink controller is plugged in -- it has a key that unlocks the software. Reflex also does this, as does AFP. It's there to keep the price down for honest customers, and to make it harder for pirates to break the law.
The last thing I want in a heli is a few loose screws.