A framework that will allow free-to-play games to be released on Xbox 360 is currently in development at Microsoft, an insider source claims.
According to IGN's trusted mole, the system will launch on Xbox Live at some point in 2012, allowing developers to release games through the service for free before offering users the opportunity to purchase additional content, such as weapons, experience points, items and perks.
"Microsoft does not comment on rumours or speculation," said a spokesperson for the platform holder when approached by Eurogamer for clarification.
If true this wouldn't be an entirely unprecedented move for Microsoft. What later became Kinect racer Joy Ride was first announced as a free-to-play game.
The 2012 date would also tie in nicely with Undead Labs' recently announced Class3 zombie MMO, which is being published by Microsoft Game Studios exclusively on Xbox Live Arcade.
A number of developers would certainly welcome the move. The boss of EA's F2P division recently claimed that standard $60 boxed games were "exploitative" and the future of gaming will focus on "free games with deep multiplayer experiences", while Angry Birds studio Rovio attacked Microsoft for its reluctance to allow frequent content updates.