Games industry news site IGN is reporting that Microsoft will make freemium games available on its Xbox Live network next year, according to a “trusted source.” This would allow publishers to distribute freely downloadable games through the service that would monetize through microtransactions. It’s worth noting that the Kinect racing game Joy Ride was originally announced as a freemium Xbox Live game at E3 2009. The plan called for players to be able to download free backgrounds and game modes while paying for vehicle customization options.
Microsoft competitor Sony has already launched the freemium virtual world Free Realms on its PSN service. While Nexon has announced plans to bring its Dungeon Fighter Online brand to Xbox Live, that game is going to be a paid spinoff rather than a freemium MMO like the PC version. Turbine’s Lord of the Rings Online, which went freemium late last year, has also been long-rumored to be a title the company would like to publish on Xbox 360. Initial rumors about this described the 360 version including microtransactions even back when LOTRO was still a subscription-based game.