Tribes dev: free-to-play games on 360 “inevitable”

Microsoft will follow industry toward free-to-play gaming, says free-to-play designer

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Tribes: Ascend, the upcoming relaunch of the high-flying FPS series, will be free-to-play on PC. Slated for an Xbox 360 release, the console version has been delayed while Microsoft sorts out its policy on free-play titles into Live Arcade, as the company%26rsquo;s framework doesn't currently support such models. However Todd Harris, whose Hi-Rez Studios is producing the title, isn't worried by the delay. He says Microsoft is open to adopting a free-to-play framework: %26ldquo;It's inevitable that Microsoft will move towards that because the industry is moving towards that.%26rdquo;

%26ldquo;The ability to patch frequently, the ability to have it be free-to-play so users can get a taste without any fee,%26rdquo; continued Harris, %26ldquo;both Sony and Microsoft are moving there strategically but there are still some things to be worked out on both the business side and the technical side.%26rdquo; He says the games industry is moving away from the traditional model of buying a game upfront and toward models such as free-play, ad-supported and microtransaction-driven titles. Releases such as Valve's now free-play Team Fortress 2, as well as the widely documented success of fragmented, low-price titles such as Angry Birds point toward this trend, which Microsoft acknowledges it will be following.

%26ldquo;We're always looking at different models and different ways we can work with partners to bring content out,%26rdquo; the company's Xbox senior product manager David Dennistold Eurogamer. %26ldquo;Kinect Fun Labs %26ndash; that's an ad-supported model. Those titles are sponsored. There are different ways you can deploy or distribute games using different types of business models.%26rdquo; Dennis says Microsoft's current strong industry position is an ideal one from which to experiment and %26ldquo;see what consumers like and what they don't like... you'll see us continue in the future to look for a lot of different models for distribution.%26rdquo;

Until Microsoft has sorted out these issues with developers such as Harris, projects like the 360 version of Tribes: Ascend remain on the back-burner. How eager are you to see free-play games make their way onto XBLA?

Aug 1, 2011

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