Microsoft Considering Free to Play Games on Xbox Live

xbox360balllogolarge1 300x202 Microsoft Considering Free to Play Games on Xbox LiveThe free-to-play business model has started picking up a considerable amount of steam lately as developers are preparing to put their most popular franchises in that market. Microsoft’s Xbox Live has been a “closed garden” of sorts where developers are forced to adhere to the model that Microsoft established. However, it looks like a philosophical shift is taking place at the hardware/software/internet giant. It is reported that Microsoft has started reaching out to developers to explore the possibility of implementing the business model into Xbox Live. The free-to-play approach has publishers monetizing in-game content or premium upgrades while gamers are free to play the main game at no cost.

Microsoft is exploring ways to charge Microsoft Points for in-game content while opening up games for everyone. The social games phenomenon has displayed impressive staying power with backing from major publishers like EA and Ubisoft. However, the appeal has been lost on “core” gamers since the start of the trend focused on games like Farmville, which gamers bemoaned for not being possessing a hardcore appeal.

DUST 514 300x168 Microsoft Considering Free to Play Games on Xbox Live

Developer CCP skipped Xbox Live for a free-to-play Playstation 3 exclusive.

However, the appeal is changing since EA announced development for Battlefield Play-4-Free, and valve revealed that the popular multiplayer shooter Team Fortress 2 will be free to play. The latter news came as a bit of a bombshell last night due to its relatively abrupt nature. It was speculated for some time that Valve would adopt the business model for TF2, but its adoption came much sooner than analysts anticipated.

Developers are increasingly finding the appeal of the free-to-play model, even bypassing releases on the Xbox 360 due to its closed business model. Final Fantasy XIV Online creator and director, Hiromichi Tanaka told Eurogamer last year that he declined a release on Xbox Live because of Microsoft’s philosophy. The same scenario goes for Developer, CCP and their upcoming Playstation 3 exclusive MMO shooter, Dust 514. The developer told Eurogamer this month at E3 that it went with Sony because “at least they have policies that allow us to build the game we want.”

Sources: Develop & Eurogamer


  1. This is a very interesting trend, I am curious how this is profitable for the companies beyond micro-transactions and advertising. TF2 free is great news!

  2. It’s not really “Free to Play” if you still have to shell out for a gold account to play it!

    • TF2 doesn’t have “accounts” so no one is paying a monthly fee for better stuff. The only thing you have to pay for are additional in-game items, such as new weapons. But, Valve has an item drop system in place that rewards you with random item drops, so the more you play the more items you get. So without paying for a single thing you can eventually receive items others buy in the store. There’s also a crafting and trading system where you can take duplicate items and trade them for other stuff, or simply break them down into crafting materials to make items you want. It’s a great system if you ask me, buy stuff if you can’t wait for it, or wait and time will give it to you just for playing.

      Note: I haven’t played TF2 today yet, so I’m not sure if there will be stuff you cannot get via their drop system or of any other changes they made. But, I’ll assume it’s all the same from the last time I played.

      EDIT: Yes, everything can be earned in the game without buying a single thing!
      Oh, and I realize you were referring to Microsoft’s Gold Account…my bad, I’m an avid PC gamer, forgot about the yearly fees that xbox users have.

    • Respectfully, I don’t agree that the Gold account violates the concept of free to play.  Yes, you need a Gold account.  But you also need an Xbox.  And internet.

      The merits of free-to-play as a business model are best explored constrained to the game and compared against a paid version of that same game, otherwise it’s apples and oranges.

  3. Aaron Miller says:

    All I know is that I’m tired of seeing PC gamers getting all the cool updates through Steam while we lonely consolers are relegated to years-old editions because Microsoft refuses to allow a little flexibility in their developer requirements. Hopefully this new gaming model will fix that situation.

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