There are four types of aviation training devices: Basic Aviation Training Devices, Advanced Aviation Training Devices and Flight Simulators that are regulated under §61.4 and full flight simulators (FFS) and flight training devices (FTD) that are regulated under 14 CFR part 60
The BATD and AATD often use the same software that you can use on your home computer e.g. X-Plane. The difference is that they have received a Letter of Authorization (LOA) from the FAA certifying that the software and accompanying peripherals satisfy the rules regarding BATDs and AATDs. You can read more about it in AC_61-136B
Here’s the relevant part for a BATD like FlyThisSim.
B.3.1 General Control Requirements. The following items are required
for all ATD approvals.
B.3.1.1 The aircraft physical flight and associated control systems
must be recognizable as to their function and how they are to be
manipulated solely from their appearance. These physical flight
control systems cannot use interfaces such as a keyboard, mouse, or
gaming joystick to control the aircraft in simulated flight.
B.3.1.2 Virtual controls are those controls used to set up certain
aspects of the simulation (such as selecting the aircraft
configuration, location, weather conditions, etc.) and otherwise
program, effect, or pause the training device.
I have seen videos where the setup exceeds the requirements for the BATD but without a LOA it is not a BATD and time cannot be logged for purposes of fulfilling the experience requirements for certificates or ratings.
I have flown older BATDs like the ones that used to be sold by ASA and they don’t provide a very realistic flying experience. I used FlyThisSim extensively for IFR training and it does a pretty good job of simulating a real airplane. For IFR training X-Plane and my Mac are just as good. I haven’t tried either one for VFR maneuvers.