It appears that a revolution is about to begin as Microsoft look to completely change the way they charge for their Xbox Live service. This is an exciting time for Xbox 360 owners as it could mean that we will see a free-to-play service emerge. Funding for the service will reportedly be through micro-transactions.
Since the Xbox Live service launched it had been a relatively closed application which sometimes works against developers, however this new service, if it goes into action would allow for developers to have more of a say as to which price band they would put themselves.
Xbox Live has been available on the Xbox 360 since 2005 when it launched. It is mainly used for online gaming where users must play a monthly or annually subscription in order to be a member of Xbox Live Gold. This is why a change in the way the users get charged would be so significant.
Sony’s PlayStation 3 has a free online gaming service which would go against a lot of Xbox 360 users when deciding which console to buy. Now it seems Microsoft are willing to take the risk of losing subscription fee profits in order to gain more gamers with free-to-play gaming. Sony is rumored to be making their consoles cheaper soon which may entice those paying subscription fees of £40 a year into investing in a PS3.
If the rumors that this service will exist in the future are true, the profits would come from the in-game purchases or micro-transactions. According to the article at OSM this would only work if more developers are willing to allow for their games to be open to the masses so that a much larger audience of gamers are making the smaller payments.
Mobile devices that use apps have for a long time used similar small payments for their games and developers. Gamers are lured into downloaded a game free of charge and then are given the option to purchase upgrades and add ons if they choose to, which in most cases they do.
With the integration of the Xbox Live service now available to Windows Phone 7 smartphones, Microsoft could be looking to take advantage of their service in the mobile gaming world as well as on their consoles.
What do you think of a free-to-play gaming service? Would you consider buying a PS3 if there prices drop and Microsoft continue to charge for online play?