Microsoft Trial “Pay To Play” Gaming

Microsoft’s experimental Game Room goes live at the end of March, and with it brings a virtual environment for your Avatars to mill around in and play classic arcade games.  The application itself is free to download, but after that the pricing ventures off into the unknown and is seen as something of a testbed for consoles.

Firstly, each game will be free to try once, but once your initial credits are up you’ll need to pay to continue playing – how you do that depends on how much you like the game you’re playing.  If you wish, you can ‘buy’ the arcade machine outright (for between 240 and 400 Points) or, and this is the new bit, you can pay for credits.

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For 40 Microsoft Points, you get another go.  It’s the equivalent of dipping into your pocket and pulling out some cash and dropping it into the machine, and whilst at first glance this seems expensive (it’s 50 cents, or 35 pence) it’s roughly the same as you’d find in an arcade.  Well, one that still houses vintage cabinets, of course.

After between 6 and 10 goes, though, you might as well have bought the thing outright, but that’s not really the point.  With Game Room Microsoft are testing not only environments for Avatars, but also people’s willingness to part with their cash on a pay-to-play basis, something (as far as I know) untested on consoles.

If successful, we can assume similar mechanics will roll out further, possibly finding their way within games themselves (50 Points for another life, perhaps, or a re-fill of ammo) and although EA (and others) have done similar things with the Need For Speed series, at least you could always grind your way to a Skyline and weren’t ever forced to pay out real money.

Interesting times, indeed.

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