Exclusive: Bug Village to break the freemium barrier on Xbox Live

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.

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • I wonder if you have to buy the "dlc" to earn all of the achievements?
  • Not a fan on the fremium (aka "pay-to-play") model. Not only the made up word is 'fugly' (pun), the model brings unbalanced gameplay, and smells like a scheme.
  • freemium is a intresting business model it ropes you in with free gameplay but to really achieve alot of objects you need to pay for it as nrask7 asked I wonder if you have to put any money in to get all the achievements
  • freemium is bad a bad idea on mobile devices. I can see on some PC/PS3 platforms, ok, as there is no fee to play on line on those platforms.
    Don't I already pay almost $60 a year to play on Xbox live ?
    I dont mind playing a few dollars for a game and even more if it's awsome or a big name but, dime me everytime I play, forget it.
    I never got into the $6-10 a month games because of that, then they went free but, the items you needed would cost you $10-20 a month to be the same as others.
    If it's free achivement points, I'll play it but, if I have to pay to get anything in the game(more than a total of a few dollars) forget it.
  • Freemium works just fine on other platforms - there's plenty good games that do not force you to buy heavyhandedly.
    Besides XBox Live subscription is an optional thing on WP7, isn't it?
  • Is it fun being contrary all the time?:P Freemium is actually very well suited to the mobile arena and anywhere that casual gaming is proliferate. Games like Bug Village are free for everyone and the people who really like them can take advantage of the micropurchases. People who don't enjoy the game or don't see the value in the optional content simply don't buy it. Everyone's happy. As for Xbox Live, like the person below me pointed out, the cost of it has nothing to do with Windows Phone. Even on Xbox 360, freemium games and Xbox Live have just about nothing to do with each other. Free games with optional puyrchases shouldn't be able to 360 gamers because they pay for Xbox Live? There's no logic to that; you're mixing two separate arguments.
  • I refuse to support this business model. I rather just pay for the game. I don't want to be nickel and dimed as I play
  • Don't get why people are complaining over this. would u rather pay $3 for the game and then have to buy the DLC? SMH
  • Agreed. This is essentially a free game for everyone, and then if they dig it enough they can buy some extra stuff for it. Completely optional and a very important business model in the mobile gaming arena.
  • I have no problem with freemium games. Not sure why anyone would when most of the time, the stuff is optional. And this explains why we don't have Words or Hanging With Friends games yet.
  • Words With Friends is not freemium?
  • Who said it wasn't? I said this explains why it isn't on WP Marketplace yet.
    And again, buying the ad free version or the stuff that cost in the game is completely optional. I chose to buy the game cause I got tired of the ads. Not one person I know who plays buys any of the stuff and almost everyone I know either plays on FB or plays with the free version. I know there are games like the Smurf one on iOS that sort of puts you in a position to purchase things. But there are games that have the option of buying DLC or using an in game store and its not neccessary to play or do well in the game. I suck at Hanging With Friends, so I take advantage of the in game options.
  • Answering the question if I prefer to buy a game and then dlc: definitely. And yea, this is Facebook model of doing game business, and I don't say that as a compliment.
  • Looks like somebody didn't understand my comment. Delete this, go back and re-read what I said and then repost. Dumbdick