Microsoft Rumored to Open Xbox Live to MMO

June 27, 2011, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Are you an avid player of free-to-play online games? Then you might be interested in this piece of news. Shortly after the announcement that Team Fortress 2 will henceforth be a free-to-play title, comes the rumor that Microsoft is preparing a micro transaction system to support free to play games on its Xbox platforms. Previously, digital distribution platform Steam and developer Valve were the only free gaming service providers.

This is a pretty big deal if it’s true, because Microsoft is notorious for driving away MMO (massively multiplayer online) developers – for instance, Dust 514 is only a PS3-exclusive because getting an MMO on Xbox Live is such a pain.

Free-to-play is definitely an MMO model that’s become extremely popular, so loosening up restrictions on Xbox Live and getting in on the action should be a no-brainer on Microsoft’s part.

Such games allow the user to buy things to make the game more fun. One such game that makes money of add-ons is Farmville. Points are bought to add items on the game. The new free-to-play Xbox Live game service, which is built on Microsoft’s points system, may also adopt the micro-transaction process.

The players will be able to buy built-in game items using these points. Gamers will also be able to upgrade armor and weapons using the Microsoft points when the free-to-play service starts.

There are also rumors of Microsoft joining hands with game developers in order to stage games that are supported by smaller in game transactions. The software giant could be looking to make money from the games premium upgrades as well. We hear developers are being contacted by Microsoft to discuss new entries into this type of format.

Microsoft will expect to compete with Steam’s free gaming service on PC with their own customized inclusions to Games for Windows Live, and will also sought out a new way to provide free-to-play games on Windows Phone 7.

There’s been no official statements released just yet, so don’t get your hopes pinned up. Keep tuned and we will let you know more. In the meantime, what do you think of Microsoft’s proposed idea?

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