Microsoft details Xbox 360 free-to-play game plans

Two upcoming titles will be available at no cost to Xbox Live Gold subscibers

Microsoft has taken its time to introduce free-to-play gaming on Xbox 360, but that's soon to change.

Happy Wars

The platform holder plans to publish Japanese studio Toylogic's online brawler Happy Wars as its first free-to-play game later this year, followed by action-RPG Ascend: New Gods from Toy Soldiers maker Signal Studios.

Both will be available free of charge to Xbox Live Gold subscribers, but they'll "leverage the Microsoft Points system" through microtransactions.

"We're always looking at ways to push the boundaries of the console and our digital platform," a Microsoft spokesperson told our friends at OXM. "Bringing true free-to-play gaming experiences to Xbox 360 is a natural extension of that.

"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.

"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."

Sony was quicker than Microsoft to embrace the free-to-play model on consoles, having released the likes of Free Realms and DC Universe Online on PS3 last year.

John Smedley, CEO of Sony Online Entertainment, which developed both titles, said last month: "Free-to-play on PS3 is huge. In fact, right now, it's us with DCUO and Free Realms and our friends at CCP with Dust 514 that are going to prove that this market really works."

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