Sponsorship previously thought to have eaten costs.
Just when Microsoft seemed to have their act together with Xbox Live, confusion has erupted over long-promised Texas Hold 'Em. Peter Moore announced back at January's Consumer Electronics Show that Texas Hold 'Em would be the first fully sponsored game on the service, meaning gamers could download the online game free of charge, as the sponsorship took care of all associated costs.
Texas Hold 'Em was scheduled to arrive this spring, but disappeared from Microsoft's release schedule, and they stopped talking about it. Major Nelson's Larry Hyrb addressed the issue in a June podcast, talking to an unidentified Microsoft friend named Ross, who claimed the hold up was due to sponsorship issues. "There is lots of complexity to agreements on both sides regarding logos and brands and everything else starts getting involved," said Ross.
Recently, however, Xbox Live Wednesdays gave new hope to poker aficionados; August 23rd appeared to be the hardened calendar date -- until a Joystiq interview threw a wrench in the already-announced plans. Xbox Live group manager Greg Canessa dropped the bombshell to the web blog. "First of all, it won't be free," he said. "We haven't decided on what the final price will be, but it will not be free."
What happened? Microsoft isn't ready to comment; they claim Canessa spoke prematurely. "Although Greg mentioned it in his interview, that announcement was not official," a company representative told 1UP. "Details surrounding Texas Hold 'em are still being worked out; however, at the current time we have not yet provided any official details regarding pricing on this title."
So, here's what we know: Texas Hold 'Em was originally planned as a free release on Xbox Live via sponsorship deals, said contracts held up the release until now, but now Microsoft's backing off from their promise of free poker -- suggesting the sponsorship talks may have ultimately fallen through.