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Free-to-play games rumoured for Xbox Live

Microtransaction based Xbox 360 titles to go online in 2012 claim sources

Free-to-play downloadable games will be supported on Xbox Live from next year, according to the latest rumours from Microsoft insiders.

Quoting "a trusted source", consumer website IGN claims that from next year publishers and developers will be able to release free-to-play games on Xbox Live, with revenues coming only from in-game purchases and microtransactions.

The business model is already commonplace outside of the console world, after having being championed by Asian-developed PC titles over the last several years. Although now widely adopted in the West for web-based and social network titles the model is still relatively rare amongst traditional publishers.

Electronic Arts though has experimented with a number of its Play4Free titles, including Battlefield Heroes and Battlefield Play4Free. However, THQ's free-to-play games based on WWE wrestling and Company of Heroes were quickly abandoned.

As IGN points out Joy Ride for Kinect from Microsoft was originally intended as a free-to-play title, when it was first unveiled as a means of promoting Avatars. This plan was abandoned though and the game repurposed as a standard retail Kinect game.

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David Jenkins