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Microsoft to publish its first free-to-play Xbox 360 game
Microsoft to publish its first free-to-play Xbox 360 game
August 24, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

August 24, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
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    22 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Microsoft has announced that the upcoming downloadable action title Happy Wars will be free-to-play with microtransactions when it launches on Xbox 360 later this fall, making it the first title on the platform to use this popular business model.

Happy Wars, which comes from the Japanese studio Toylogic, will be made available to all players with an Xbox Live Gold subscription, and players will be able to customize their in-game character by purchasing virtual items with real-world currency. Microsoft did not confirm whether the game will sell anything beyond cosmetic character items.

Keeping in line with other free-to-play games, Microsoft promises that it'll continue to support Happy Wars after its launch, as it plans to introduce even more items and character customization options.

While it might be the first title of its kind on Xbox 360, Happy Wars isn't the only free-to-play title making its way to Microsoft's console. At E3 2012, Microsoft announced that Signal Studios' 2013 action title Ascend: New Gods will also adopt this business model.

Over the past few years, the Xbox 360 has seen a number of other free downloadable games, including 1 vs. 100, Doritos Crash Course, and Yaris, but unlike Happy Wars or Ascend: New Gods, these titles did not offer any form of in-game transactions.


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Comments


Matt Coohill
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Real-world currency or MS Points? There is a difference. :)

R. Hunter Gough
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MS has already stated that they're getting rid of MS Points by the end of the year, so I'm sure it'll be meatspace moneys.

k s
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@ R. Hunter Gough I head a rumor they were getting rid of MS Points but I've yet to hear it confirmed.

k s
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MS has taken another step away from what made me love the Xbox 1 and the early life of the 360 (pre-2012).

Nick Harris
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There is a case to be made for having an Xbox LIVE Platinum account which is more expensive than Gold and all the revenue over and above that needed by Microsoft to run Gold services is divided between all the MMOs you are registered with according to how much time you spend with them each month. Competition will increase between MMOs to ensure that they get the "biggest slice of the pie" and the lack of formal opt in subscriptions will encourage more people to try MMOs that they might otherwise question their financial commitment to.

Ujn Hunter
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Please don't support F2P on consoles. Just say no! Keep that garbage on the social sites.

Alan Rimkeit
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Only in a perfect world....

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Michael Rooney
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Why the disdain for F2P? It shows a rather glaring ignorance of the f2p market. Tribes Ascend is a great f2p game. League of Legends is a solid game. Firefall looks great. Mech Warrior Online/Tactics are both f2p iirc.

I would quite honestly love those on consoles. I'm sorry you believe all a f2p game can be is limited to the various ville games you find on facebook.

Brian Reilly
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I understand this type of model isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I say the more people you bring to a system, the better. I personally might not ever touch this game, but I welcome the idea. I'd like to think that more business means more employed devs. If no one is forcing a player to play these games, how could this model be a bad thing on the console?

Mark Venturelli
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There should be a law somewhere against naming your game "Happy Wars".

Amir Sharar
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I don't want to put words into anyone's mouth here, but I get the impression that the trepidation is associated with the fact that many F2P games don't offer good value and gouge the consumer (in some cases in a downright disrespectful manner). I can't dispute that, but at the same time there is the odd game that does it right.

I seem to be in the minority here, I think it's a great idea to open up the console to this. Let each developer/publisher assume the risk involved.

k s
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It's not the minority we're worried about it's the majority that concerns us. Very few fallow the example set by the good F2P games and sadly that doesn't look like it's going to change.

Yasuhiro Noguchi
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Agreed. Nothing wrong with allowing different business models on console. In fact, I think the future of the game console depends on it. Sony is already dabbling with F2P on Vita in Japan.

Assuming Sony/MSFT will still curate content via their concept submission/approval processes, we may be able to expect a certain quality bar to be maintained.

Also, ignoring F2P is ignoring the fact that gamers in some countries (e.g. Korea, China) will never pay their local currency equivalent of USD $30~$60+ upfront for a game. The only way to reach these audiences is to adopt a "games as a service" business model where players can choose to pay for content they value.

Michael Rooney
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@"It's not the minority we're worried about it's the majority that concerns us. Very few fallow the example set by the good F2P games and sadly that doesn't look like it's going to change."

This is just a problem with an emerging business model. It happens for all industries when a new model is created. The best example is probably the dot com bubble. There is a bunch of trash right now, but as there's better competition the trash games won't be viable anymore.

F2p requires sustained user bases, and bad games can't survive when great games exist in that market. With the variety of really good f2p games coming (LoL, Tribes, Mechwarrior Online, Mechwarrior tactics, firefall, TF2, Dust 514, Blacklight, End of Nations, etc) it's going to be very hard for trashware to be profitable.

k s
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@Micheal I hope you're right but forgive me if I'm skeptical of the free market system's effects on industries.

Michael Rooney
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@k s: With high quality games being released as f2p, I don't see how it could be a sustainable business model for anybody not producing to similar quality. The one caveat to f2p is that you need to keep users playing, and if there are better options they most likely won't keep playing.

I understand why you're pessimistic about it, but I don't see a reality where f2p games can exist at low quality unless ALL the f2p games go low quality, which is not the current trend.

Yasuhiro Noguchi
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Congratulations to Yoichi Take and the Toylogic team for this achievement!

I'm looking forward to how their game performs. It's nice to see MSFT trying out different business models within their walled garden.

Mark Ludlow
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I always thought that Crimson Alliance was the first F2P title. Or is it too limited in what you can purchase to be considered F2P?

k s
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It really only is a demo, tried it to see what it was all about.

Joe McGinn
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>> available to all players with an Xbox Live Gold subscription <<

Epic fail.

Matt Ployhar
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I agree Joe....

How is this a true F2P game if it's only available via an Xbox LIVE gold sub?

Regarding other comments - F2P/Freemium etc has been doing quite well for the likes of League of Legends & World of Tanks. I wouldnt' be so quick to dismiss it.

Consoles are likely going to have a tough time subsidizing their Hardware in a F2P world. I'm sure they'll figure out a way - such as getting an ISV to do exclusive F2P games - but that sort of kills the whole notion of what made F2P/Freemium so successful in the 1st place. This will be interesting to watch over the next few years.


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