OK, this is hard to run down exactly, because there's a Live Weekend going on right now, which means you can play online for free on Xbox Live. But reader Draco, a Silver level gamer, says that he's been playing cross-platform multiplayer games for free since Wednesday night, which precedes the Live Weekend (which started at midnight Friday.) I checked his Gamercard and, yeah, he played Shadowrun online on Thursday.
It seems that ending the gold/silver distinction in Games for Windows Live (effectively making it free) might have had the same effect for those who game on titles that are both PC and 360. A commenter on Xbox Live forums found that Shadowrun online play was free, for example. Reader Draco, who spotted this, says it works for Lost Planet: Extreme Condition Colonies Edition and Universe at War: Earth Assault, too.
We'll have to check back after the weekend ends. But bigger picture, could this — don't get your hopes up, but it's gotta be on everyone's mind — mean that Xbox Live may eventually convert to a free model for all multiplayer gaming too?
Live Silver for Xbox Allowing Online Play? [Xbox Forums, thanks reader Draco]