Joy Ride now a Natal launch game?

No longer free-to-play, retail source says.

It's rumoured that Microsoft's casual racing game Joy Ride is to be reborn as a launch title for the Natal motion controller.

That's according to a "senior retail source", speaking to CVG, who said it had been "completely reworked into a bigger, richer game than before".

The original plan for Joy Ride to be a free-to-play game has been binned, said the source. But the source didn't know if it would still be an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive or appear in the shops.

"The hope for us is that it will be a boxed release - we're still in the dark on that one - but it's definitely for Natal and will definitely be here for launch," CVG's source said.

"They're putting the final touches to it now. The biggest thing for us is that it just works with Natal's racing controls. We're reliably informed it's very intuitive."

Joy Ride, developed by BigPark, was announced at Microsoft's E3 conference last year as a free-to-play Live Arcade game featuring micro-transactions, and starring gamers' own Avatars. It was originally due out before the end of 2009.

It's been missing in action since then, barring a brief confirmation from Microsoft that it had moved to 2010.

Last week, Joy Ride's listing disappeared from Xbox.com, prompting Microsoft to say that it would "bring BigPark's vision to life in 2010".

The unveiling will apparently be at Microsoft's Natal curtain-raiser on Sunday evening in LA. We'll be there.

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