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Microsoft considering free-to-play model on Xbox 360, claims Hi-Rez

by Steven Williamson on 1 August 2011, 08:50

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Xbox 360

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Hi-Rez Studios, the developer behind the class-based MMO Global Agenda, believes the arrival of free-to-play games on Xbox 360 is inevitable.

Speaking with Eurogamer, Hi-Rez Studios’ CEO and Executive Producer, Todd Harris, said that with microtransactions becoming all the more relevant in today’s market Microsoft will soon follow suit. But at the moment Xbox Live subscription fees makes it difficult for developers.

“It’s really just the degree to which the free-to-play model and, even more specifically, constant updates are at – kind of what level of support there is for Xbox, or even PlayStation at this point,” said Harris.

However, Harris says that both Microsoft and Sony are exploring the possibilities of the free-to-play model.

“At least from our conversations, both Sony and Microsoft are moving there strategically but there are still some things to be worked out on both the business side and the technical side and the certification side regarding frequency of patches," he claims.

Harris says that if Microsoft put something in place then he would be keen to bring his upcoming free-to-play multiplayer shooter, Tribes: Ascend, to Xbox 360.

“They’re [Microsoft] seeing where the industry is going. It’s inevitable that Microsoft will move towards that because the industry is moving towards that, and once that groundwork has been laid we would be in a better position to consider Tribes: Ascend for Xbox. And those issues just need further advancement before we would be comfortable putting a release timeframe on a console version. It’s not the case of ‘never’, but we know all those things we can handle on the PC, so that’s why PC is first.”

Tribes: Ascend, which has been billed as the multiplayer successor to Tribes 2, is a futuristic shooter featuring jet-packs and hi-tech weaponry. Currently it is pencilled in for a late 2011 release as a digitial download on PC.


HEXUS Forums :: 8 Comments

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But at the moment Xbox Live subscription fees makes it difficult for developers.
Hmm, I'm probably being dense here, but is there some developer side payment that's needed, or is it purely the fact that the punters out there have to get an XBL subscription?

If it's the latter then I really can't see what he's getting at. After all, at £3ish per month the XBL Gold subscription isn't exactly a bank-breaker.

What worries me (slightly) is that the “free-to-play” bit - if you're saying that these games are available to non-XBL subscribers then surely it stands to reason that they've got to be paid for another way - which means hordes of adverts. :(

Still I suppose that's the way things are going, and it's less objectionable (to me at least) than the idea of having to buy a game, then get an XBL subscription and then another subscription from the publisher to be able to play all the features of certain games - especially if the publishers subscription is (rumours) at more-or-less the same price point as the XBL one.
crossy
If it's the latter then I really can't see what he's getting at. After all, at £3ish per month the XBL Gold subscription isn't exactly a bank-breaker.

No it isn't but i found it was a lot to pay for the odd occasion I used it. I just stick to the PC for multiplayer now…
Also this move by Microsoft would allow BBC iplayer to appear on the 360. The reason BBC won't allow it, is because of the XBL subscription requirements.

Oooo , interesting topic….
cheesemp
No it isn't but i found it was a lot to pay for the odd occasion I used it. I just stick to the PC for multiplayer now…

same, i would probably be more inclined to spend a bit more on a couple of micro transactions here and there which would be money the developers and microsoft would see, compared to the minute where i buy al my games fro the second hand shelves and only play them offline because i find a constant subscription fee a bit of a con.
Biscuit
(No it isn't but i found it was a lot to pay for the odd occasion I used it. I just stick to the PC for multiplayer now…) same, i would probably be more inclined to spend a bit more on a couple of micro transactions here and there which would be money the developers and microsoft would see, compared to the minute where i buy al my games fro the second hand shelves and only play them offline because i find a constant subscription fee a bit of a con.

Pay-As-You-Game (PAYG)? ;) Joking aside, that's maybe a good idea - being able to buy a “session” of online/update/etc when/if you need it, in the same way you can buy an app from iTunes or GMP. However, if you're using this kind of “pre-pay” arrangement, then surely that's not really “free to play” is it?

Don't forget that you can also buy XBL access in unit's of one month. Extending the mobile phone metaphor maybe there's some folks who'd appreciate being able to buy access in units or one day or one week too?

It's an interesting topic. Personally I'm going to stick with the Family pack we've got at the moment - it's not that expensive, plus you get some good “exclusive” discount offers on games and DLC.