OK, this is hard to run down exactly, because there's a Live Weekend going on right now, which means you can play online for free on Xbox Live. But reader Draco, a Silver level gamer, says that he's been playing cross-platform multiplayer games for free since Wednesday night, which precedes the Live Weekend (which started at midnight Friday.) I checked his Gamercard and, yeah, he played Shadowrun online on Thursday. It seems that ending the gold/silver distinction in Games for Windows Live (effectively making it free) might have had the same effect for those who game on titles that are both PC and 360. A commenter on Xbox Live forums found that Shadowrun online play was free, for example. Reader Draco, who spotted this, says it works for Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Colonies Edition and Universe at War: Earth Assault, too. We'll have to check back after the weekend ends. But bigger picture, could this - don't get your hopes up, but it's gotta be on everyone's mind - mean that Xbox Live may eventually convert to a free model for all multiplayer gaming too? Live Silver for Xbox Allowing Online Play? [Xbox Forums, thanks reader Draco]
Yes, because the business model of free servers works for pc and PSN and wii and DS, it shouldn't work for Xbox? Only thing in the way is greed.
Just look at Blizzard. Battlenet has been around since 1997 and without fees. Free multiplayer packed in a great service sells games. Blizzard knew this. To make it even more clear to you, do you think Counterstrike would have been a hit if it had a monthly fee?
I shudder at how many more people that would own a Xbox 360 instead of a wii or ps3 had MS realised this simple truth.