Over the past few years, game developers have increasingly embraced the concept of “free to play” games. In short, these are games that initially cost players nothing, but usually support their own development by serving up in-game advertisements, or enticing players to spend real-world cash on items that can only be used within the game. Though this approach is greatly different from the traditional video game sales model, it’s been proven to be wildly successful in many cases, including modern day hits like Team Fortress 2 and League Of Legends. Now it seems that Microsoft would like to get in on this idea, as the upcoming multiplayer fantasy action title Happy Wars has been revealed to be the first free to play game to hit the Xbox Live Arcade.
It should be noted here that “free to play” and “free” are two entirely different concepts. Aegis Wing, a horizontal shoot ‘em up released in 2007, was released totally gratis and continues to sport a $0 price tag on the Xbox Live Marketplace. That game however, was free in the classical sense. It cost you nothing to download, and at no point does Aegis Wing try to monetize your experience with ads or microtransactions. Happy Wars, by contrast, has to earn its keep, and according to the trailer embedded at the bottom of this text, it seems to do so by offering a huge number of aesthetic additions to players in exchange for viable legal tender.
As for what Happy Wars is about, Play XBLA offers a comprehensive, if obviously-PR-groomed, synopsis:
Happy Wars is a comical large-scale multiplayer action game. 30 players can take each other on in a grassy plain under a rainbow, a horror-stricken world of darkness, a mystical sea floor, and many other battlefields, using various spells, siege equipment, and over-the-top action. Join with friends on a grand scale to enjoy competitive mode as you attempt to seige the other team’s castle. Cast Magic spells and attack castles in co-op mode where players collaborate to take down wave after wave of Bot teams. For offline fun, players can tackle missions in the single-player campaign mode!
Further, the site also offers descriptions of the game’s various character classes, which both serves to whet the appetites of prospective players, as well as making this game seem eerily similar to 2009′s PlayStation Network title Fat Princess (though it should be noted that Fat Princess is not free to play).
Assuming you’re suddenly intrigued by all of this information, it’s quite simple to get your own copy of Happy Wars. Once October 12 rolls around, as long as you have an Xbox Live 360, an Xbox Live Gold membership and a functional Internet connection, you’re all set. Just download Happy Wars from the Xbox Live Marketplace and you’re ready to jump into the action. Whether you opt to splurge on largely useless, yet attractive aesthetic accessories using your hard-earned cash is entirely up to you at that point (though shelling out more than $100 on virtual clothes will likely earn you a confused, worried look from your significant other).