An overhaul of Microsoft’s Live payment system may see free-to-play games coming to the Xbox Live platform.
Free-to-play games offer full games to play without any initial charge for users. While free-to-play games can function without any monetary input from players, they usually offer bonuses and incentives to those who make in-game purchases. For instance, a free-to-play PC MMORPG like Lord of The Rings Online will let a gamer explore the world without charge and take on quests, but will offer stronger weaponry or armour to those who pay for them.
Currently, Microsoft’s online payment system does not support in-game micro payments, but it is expected that the changes will later allow for this. Also, Microsoft currently set price bands that individual games must fall into, but they are now expected to allow developers to name their own price for their wares which could potentially lead to cheaper XBLA titles becoming available.
The problem is, you can hardly call it a “free-to-play” model when Xbox Live Gold members (the only Xbox Live tier that has access to games downloads) already pay a subscription fee just to access the online service. It’s an issue not shared by PC gamers, whose only equivalent would be payments to their ISPs for internet access.