Non-paying Xbox Live members can't usually play games online, but they'll be able to use a free trial of World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition, developer Wargaming.net confirmed to Polygon yesterday.
World of Tanks will be completely free-to-play for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. Wargaming.net representatives did not offer further details on the trial for Xbox Live free members, but said that players will also be able to purchase premium accounts with gold, one of the game's currencies. Premium accounts let players earn experience and credits (another in-game currency) more quickly than normal.
In the Windows PC version of the game, players spend real money on premium accounts, which are one of the ways to pick up in-game gold. But according to Wargaming.net CEO Victor Kislyi, Microsoft's Xbox Live regulations prevented the studio from offering premium accounts as a regular, paid subscription.
"Microsoft has their own rules [for] membership subscriptions, so [there are] certain things we could not break," said Kislyi in an interview with Polygon. "They cannot just drop everything."
Players of the Xbox 360 Edition will be able to purchase in-game gold with real money, and then spend gold on premium accounts. It's essentially a way for Wargaming.net to get around Microsoft's prohibitions on charging subscription fees atop Xbox Live.
"Microsoft has ... certain things we could not break"
The studio also told Polygon that during the Xbox 360 Edition's open beta, players won't be able to spend any real money in the game. Instead, Wargaming.net will drip-feed players free in-game gold to test out its content purchasing systems, and will then reset everything when the game goes live.
Sony doesn't charge for online features on PlayStation 3, but the company will require a PlayStation Plus subscription to play online on PlayStation 4. Even so, the company is leaving it up to publishers as to whether they want to require a Plus membership for users to play free-to-play titles on the upcoming console.
Wargaming.net announced during Microsoft's E3 press briefing that World of Tanks is in development on Xbox 360 at Wargaming West (formerly Day 1 Studios). You can sign up for the open beta here, and see eight screenshots above. For much more on World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition, check out our full preview.
Charlie Hall contributed to this report.