Microsoft has blown the lid off a new Xbox Live concept entitled Consumables: in-game assets with limited lives that will have to be purchased (and possibly re-purchased when they wear out) using real money via Xbox Live Marketplace.
Speaking at Gamefest 2006, Live Marketplace business manager Rohan Oommen unveiled the distinctly dubious-sounding idea. Two examples mooted by IGN, which reported Oomen's address, are armour which wears down (or perhaps rusts) as a game progresses, or the ability to convert real cash into in-game cash should you need the latter.
Oommen also said that Microsoft plans to integrate Live Marketplace more closely into games themselves - thus, for example, you would be able to walk into a gun-shop in Saints Row, say, and use real cash to purchase a weapon which would be unavailable to other in-game characters. All very impressive technology-wise, for sure, but it does sound like a cynical means of getting us to spend more money on games we've already lashed out a hard-earned chunk of wedge on.
Apparently, Consumables and in-game Live Marketplace integration will be making their debut in the next iteration of the Xbox 360 Dashboard, so we'll soon be able to see whether they are as potentially bothersome as they sound.