Joy Ride to ‘debut’ free-to-play model on Xbox LIVE

In the latest Microsoft press release, the platform publisher talks big about the success of Xbox LIVE Arcade this summer. People downloaded the 1 vs. 100 clients like crazy and, overall, the publisher saw a 200 percent monthly revenue growth from last year’s Summer of Arcade program. Tucked away at the bottom of the release is a mention of the XBLA title Joy Ride, an Avatar-infused kart racing title with a twist — a light free-to-play MMO twist, we should add.

In the official release, Joy Ride is said to debut “an innovative free-to-play business model on Xbox LIVE.” This is the second time we’ve noticed this sort of wording from Microsoft in regards to this game on Xbox LIVE as a whole, and it’s nice to see it again in such a prominent place.

Joy Ride will be a free download this holiday and the stream of paid content — stuff like tracks, cars, Avatar costumes, etc., — will, in theory, be supporting the title. More importantly, this “free-to-play business model on Xbox LIVE” stuff makes us think Joy Ride will play a role in the future of MMOs in the LIVE space, specifically with whatever Turbine plans to dish out in 2011. Weird that an XBLA title might be the flag-bearer.

Brad BradNicholson