"Free-to-play" games with microtransactions hitting Xbox Live?

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the-lord-of-the-rings-online-screenshot.jpgLike your games cheap? Then the Xbox 360’s Live online platform may have just scored some brownie points with you. A report from IGN is claiming that Microsoft are planning on making free-to-play titles available from their online service as of next year.

Free-to-play is of course not quite as free as you’d imagine. Think of games like Champions Online and Farmville; not that these games are heading to the Xbox Live service, but just as an example of their business model. They begin as free to play, but spend any extended length of time with the games and you’ll soon realise that you’re buying in-game items with microtransactions in order to stay competitve. Instead of paying £40 in one whack for a game, you’re dishing out £5 or £10 a week.

It’s a clever move by Microsoft – plenty of Xbox-ers are totally comfortable with spending money on the Live platform, and the free-to-play model is increasingly a lucrative angle to work from. Just look how much faith big publishers like EA are putting into it.

It’s a little bit crafty in my opinion (I detest having to constantly add a few quid to games I play), but if you’re tight on cash and need to drip feed your gaming fun, Microsoft may yet be on to a winner.

Gerald Lynch

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