Microsoft may be trying to get on the free-to-play bandwagon as well. Develop reports that Microsoft is quietly calling on developers to make free-to-play games for its Xbox Live service. The Redmond software maker will also add microstransaction support to Xbox 360 games, enabling in-game items to be bought or sold for Microsoft Points without leaving a game.
Microsoft likely sees the writing on the wall. Companies like Zynga have become wildly successful pumping out free Facebook games like FarmVille, CityVille, and Mafia Wars. These games are all free to play, but end up costing you money if you really want to enjoy yourself. Like a drug dealer, they offer the first hit for free, but dedicated players are constantly tempted to take the fast road and purchase virtual items and upgrades to help them achieve more. Instead of a regular game where there is an end, free-to-play (F2P) games only goal is to keep players addicted and playing as often as possible, hopefully forever.
This move is somewhat contrary to the very idea of Xbox Live, which is a pay service itself. Until now, there has been support for nicrotransactions out-of-game, but these usually involved large update packs for games like Call of Duty.
Microsoft isn’t the first hardcore games company to give this a go. EA has been toying with free-to-play games for some time, and now offers two versions of Battlefield to play for free, as well as Tiger Woods PGA Tour, Need For Speed World, Dragon Age Legends, BattleForge, and a line of games targeted at Zynga users. Valve, which operates the Steam PC platform, is also onboard and has turned Team Fortress 2 into a F2P game.
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