Hi-Rez Studio has become a full-fledged free-to-play supporter. The business model has revamped their current-gen third-person MMO shooter, Global Agenda, and the model will be the company’s go-to solution for their upcoming Tribes: Ascend, a spiritual successor to Sierra’s Starsiege Tribes multiplayer shooter.
Right now the game is on hold for the Xbox 360 because it's a free-to-play title and Microsoft's Xbox Live setup just doesn't support that kind of business model right now, which is the main reason why Mabinogi was also put on hold for the console.
Speaking with EuroGamer [via VG 24/7] Hi-Rez Studio’s head honcho, Todd Harris, discussed how the inevitable growth of free-to-play models has really sparked the interest of both Microsoft and Sony, and how Microsoft is now looking into altering the Xbox Live structure for free-to-play games, which would really open the floodgates for a number of nifty F2P titles, including Tribes: Ascend…
“At least from our conversations, both Sony and Microsoft are moving there strategically but there are still some things to be worked out on both the business side and the technical side and the certification side regarding frequency of patches….“[Microsoft] seeing where the industry is going. It’s inevitable that Microsoft will move towards that because the industry is moving towards that, and once that groundwork has been laid we would be in a better position to consider Tribes: Ascend for Xbox.”For those of you who don’t know, every time a patch or update is required for a game on Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network, there’s a certain “uploader’s fee” that development or publishing studios must pay to get their content certified and registered on the respective network. This certification process has always been a hindrance for a lot of games trying to get onto the Xbox Live Arcade platform or for getting updates and DLC out for either XBLA or PSN.
For naysayers out there who think Microsoft and Sony are best left to the monetary devices that they’re using, take note that Microsoft was already in talks to work free-to-play games into Xbox Live a short while ago. So it’s just a matter of MS and Sony finding the most appeasable ways to rape your wallets, maintain each network’s technical integrity and content infrastructure, while also allowing for cash shop content that gamers shouldn’t buy because they’re too poor but will buy anyways because it’s in the cash shop. I think they’re still somewhere in between the quiet wallet raping and the content infrastructure segment.
Anyways, you can continue to look for Hi-Rez to experiment and move forward with their projects with the consumer in mind…just the sort of thing us gamers like to hear. You can read the entire interview with Hi-Rez Studio covering a number of topics over at Eurogamer.