According to industry sources speaking with Develop, Microsoft is in the process of building developer relationships and the infrastructure to allow the provision of free to play games on the Xbox 360. The new games will offer either premium in-game items or "upgrade" opportunities, similar to how PC titles such as Champions Online: Free for All and APB Reloaded work.

The 360 already has a virtual currency system in place with Microsoft Points -- according to develop, the company is working on a system where in-game items can be exchanged for Microsoft Points on the fly rather than having to go through the Marketplace and download content.

The move is seen as a response to the soaring profits of free to play behemoths such as Zynga as well as high-profile publishers such as Valve getting on board with the business model -- as well as Microsoft's desire to make Live the center of users' entertainment on PC, console and mobile.

Microsoft has not commented on the matter.

This article originally appeared on as Free to Play on Xbox?