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Microsoft: multiple Gold-exclusive free-to-play games planned for Xbox 360

Pilot program begins with Ascend: New Gods and Happy Wars

Microsoft has several single and multiplayer free-to-play games in the works for Xbox 360, beginning with online brawler Happy Wars and Signal's intriguing action-RPG Ascend: New Gods.

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

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"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."

Log and I debated the pros and cons of free-to-play gaming on Xbox 360 in our latest Hot Topic. Developers and publishers are no less divided over the business model, with Epic's Twin Sweeney hailing it as an evolutionary step on from disc-based retail, while Duke Nukem co-creator George Broussard brands it "a waste of time". What are your thoughts? Here's a trailer for the rather tasty-looking Ascend.

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