If you're still smarting after shelling out $60 for a copy of Halo 3 last month, relief is on the way. Xbox owners connected to the Xbox Live Marketplace are getting a free treat this week with a game called Yaris.
OK, maybe it's more product placement than video game. The New York Times reports that Toyota
The Xbox marketplace provides developers with inventory-free distribution, so it's not as if Toyota is going to have to eat a ton of returns. As long as players don't walk into a Toyota showroom and wonder why the real Yaris can't shoot missiles or claw away at other drivers with electronic tentacles, Toyota will accomplish its goal of reaching out to young drivers.
The only problem I see is with the other publishers of Xbox Live games. Microsoft
See the problem? How are they going to feel if they have to compete with free? Quality will win out, but it's going to be hard to let the filtering process play itself out if more companies keep priming the pipeline with subsidized freebies. Even if you argue that the solution is for these small developers to hook up with the brands that want in, the end result is that format is still devalued if free games are plentiful.
Hopefully I'm wrong. Burger King
If free is the new five-dollar bill, who will be there to bankroll the unbranded -- and unbridled -- creativity?