According to sources supposedly speaking to Develop Magazine, Microsoft has begun working with developers to bring the free-to-play model to the Xbox 360. The Xbox LIVE network already has its own currency in place with the Microsoft Points system, so free-to-play microtransactions are practically a no-brainer. Now, it’s all about who’s on board to make the games.
While Micorsoft did not comment on the news Develop brought forth, the magazine’s sources have indicated that the plan is to bring free-to-play games out that can be monetized through either in-game unlockables or play upgrades. This is, at its core, the same type of free-to-play model other companies are adopting and have seen success with since.
This rumor comes as Valve has just announced the official release of Team Fortress 2 as an entry in the free-to-play game market. That title will be built around both the microtransactions model and with the hopes that users new to Steam will take a spin around the store. If you’ve ever done that, you know how lucrative of an environment it can be.
The idea behind free-to-play games, in case you’re wondering, is that a larger install base of users may generate a more constant revenue stream. A larger pool of players means a higher volume of microtransaction buyers, even if not everyone partakes. It’s up to the developers to make the in-game hats, costumes, items and unlockables appealing enough to warrant a purchase. From there, it’s only matter of time until the install base is so large that the small percentage of content buyers earns the developers and publishers more money than they would have seen at retail.
As of now, this is only a rumor. There have been no specific game announcements in the free-to-play arena for the Xbox 360. If any news of that variety, rumor or otherwise, springs up, we’ll be all over it.