"pilot program" that will see titles published on Xbox Live Arcade at no cost to paying subscribers.
The first such title of this program is 'Happy Wars' due this September followed by action-RPG 'Ascend: New Gods', due in "several months" time. F2P games will "leverage" Microsoft Points.
You didn't really think they were actually free? In order to get access you'll need to cough up for Gold, and then be subject to microtransactions to get more content.
"We're always looking at ways to push the boundaries of the console and our digital platform," Microsoft blurbed to . "Bringing true free-to-play gaming experiences to Xbox 360 is a natural extension of that."
It's been a long road for anything like free-to-play reaching the Xbox 360 platform as the way in which Microsoft operates their Xbox Live Marketplace has made it very difficult for studios to invest in such projects, as opposed to Sony's more 'open plan' PlayStation Network.
"With the ongoing success of the model on PC, and the interest from both our consumers and our partners looking to explore this system on console, it simply made sense to deliver this experience through great games that would take advantage of it," continued the corporate giant.
"In this pilot program, Microsoft Studios will support free-to-play gaming with Happy Wars, due out in September, as well as the recently announced game Ascend: New Gods which will ship in several months."
"The free-to-play model and games experiences will be available to all Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers, as many of the games planned will be multiplayer games by nature (an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription is required for multiplayer gaming). The games that use the free-to-play mechanic will leverage the Microsoft Points system."
The success of this pilot program will undoubtedly determine the shape of the future Xbox Live ecosystem for the next Xbox console, which will hopefully ditch Microsoft Points for just plain currency. Developers are divided over what impact the free-to-play model on consoles will have; some swear by it, and others swear at it.
Microsoft free-to-play "pilot program" for Xbox Live Gold subscribers
28 August 2012 | By Simon Priest