As the Windows Phone game library continues to grow, a few types of games remain conspicuously absent: role-playing games, first-person shooters, and freemium games. The first two are well-established genres (on other platforms), but the term freemium is a bit different. It’s not really a genre, but a business model. Freemium games are free to play but also have optional (or semi-optional) premium content for users to purchase. There hasn’t been a proper freemium Xbox 360 game yet, but they’re quite common on PC and iOS: Farmville, Smurf Village, and even many MMO games utilize the freemium business model.
Windows Phone kinda-sorta has a freemium game already: Haypi Kingdom. However, Microsoft shot down its in-game transaction model, forcing players to email the developer outside of the game in order to purchase coins. The neutering of Haypi Kingdom raised the question: when, if ever would the big MS officially allow games with microtransactions on Windows Phone? That’s surely the number one thing keeping Zynga away from the platform, after all.
The times they are a-changing, my friends. WPCentral is pleased to announce that a freemium game is officially coming to Windows Phone, and it’s an Xbox Live title to boot! That bleeding edge title is Bug Village, first announced back in August and from the fine folks at Glu Mobile (with porting duties handled by Babaroga). Bug Village really is an important title for the platform. Gamers might remember how Microsoft’s own Beards & Beaks included paid DLC, but the game itself costs money. Bug Village establishes the freemium model for the platform, making it more than a simple iOS port.
What kind of game is Bug Village? Why, it’s a city-building game, much like the aforementioned Smurf Village. The object is to build the biggest and best village with the help of your faithful insect army. Building things costs resources, of which there are two types: acorns and coins. While players can obtain acorns through normal gameplay, coins will cost real-world money. Bug Village has another goal on top of just building: to unlock Achievements! There are 200 GamerScore worth of Achievements to earn. We were previously told freemium games would be limited to 100 GamerScore, but Microsoft recently decided to allow all mobile games the full 200 regardless of business model.
We’ve just scratched the tip of the iceberg on Bug Village’s payment model and features. To find out more, check back next weekend for our Glu Mobile Xbox Live Developer Interview.