Microsoft’s Games With Gold Promotion Sucks


I know it’s considered quite tacky to complain about free stuff. It makes you seem ungrateful, entitled, spoiled and bratty. But I’ve held my tongue long enough. Microsoft, your Games with Gold promotion sucks. There. I said it.

Granted, a few of the games I’ve gotten through the promotion have been games I’ve never owned or played, like Dead Rising 2, A World of Keflings and Assassin’s Creed 2. For those games, I’m grateful. I really am.

But when news broke that the first game featured as part of December’s two game lineup was the seven-year old Gears of War, I decided I was done defending it. No longer can I defend it from PlayStation Plus subscribers who have ridiculed the lackluster lineup of games given away throughout the promotion.

And they’re right to laugh, too. Halo 3? Really? The game from 2007 that practically everyone who cares already has? Rainbow Six: Vegas? Not even the (in my opinion) superior sequel, but the first Rainbow Six: Vegas? Meanwhile, PlayStation Plus subscribers have received games like Retro City Rampage, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, Battlefield 3, Spec Ops: The Line, Infamous 2 and many, many more. And this is just since I’ve been a subscriber for only a couple of months now. People who have been subscribers from the beginning have had a much wider and unquestionably better choice of games to choose from.

And the icing on the cake is that, in December, North American Playstation Plus subscribers are getting Borderlands 2 and Grid 2. This doesn’t mean much for me since I already own them but they’re a hell of a lot more substantial than five, six or even seven year old games. These are full games too, not smaller Xbox Live Arcade-style titles like some of the offerings on Games with Gold.


I get that the service is still young and perhaps geared more toward new Xbox 360 owners, to give them a couple of games a month to get them started and hopefully push them toward downloadable content and the sequels to the games offered. Of course, anyone who plays and enjoys Gears of War may want to check out Gears of Wars 2, 3 and Judgment and someone who enjoys Halo 3 might want to look into the several other Halo games on the platform including the recently released Halo 4. Oh and releasing Dead Rising 2 with Dead Rising 3 launching soon after on the Xbox One? Genius. It’s a clever marketing trick, but one that reveals Microsoft’s hand.

Microsoft has played a good game but it has become abundantly clear to me that they’re not actually interested in adding value to Xbox Live. I should’ve realized this when the price was raised by ten dollars, not lowered, like gamers had been clamoring for for years at that point. No, you just want us to think you’re adding value to the service. After all, to do practically anything of worth online on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One including use Netflix and many other apps, you need an Xbox Live Gold subscription. At this point, it’s less that the service is a premium benefit to complement Xbox ownership and more of a requirement to fully enjoy the console.

Games with Gold is an interesting way to convince gamers that, perhaps they’re actually going to start competing with the offerings of Playstation Plus without actually trying to do so. Granted, I realize that it must be more difficult to broker a deal with a publisher to give away a game that can be played after a user’s subscription lapses than it is to allow users to access it as long as they’re paying subscribers but even as I type this, I realize that I’m just making more excuses for the pitiful offerings thus far.

And I’m done making excuses. Call it poor taste. I know it’s poor taste to complain about something I’m getting for free but then again, I’m not really getting it for free, am I? It’s part of the service I’m paying for after all, so I do have a right to speak up about it. Given how hard Sony has worked to make Playstation Plus into a service that people would actually want to pay for, it makes Microsoft’s “efforts” that much more laughable.

So, yeah. Games with Gold sucks. Compared to what Sony has done with Playstation Plus, Games with Gold is a laughable attempt to make Xbox Live seem more valuable than it actually is. It’s certainly better than nothing and, while I’m sure this will sound like a load of crap now, I actually do appreciate the effort but I can’t help but compare it to Playstation Plus, a similar service that offers a better choice of games. Gun to my head, if I were forced to choose between the two to spend money on at this point in time, Playstation Plus would win.

I’ve heard Games with Gold is coming to the Xbox One as well, sometime in 2014. Good. I just hope Microsoft steps its game up this time and make the service something that actually tries to compete rather than doing the bare minimum.

About Justin McBride

My name is Justin McBride and I’m a guy who enjoys writing, playing games and writing about playing games. Sound lame enough yet? Well, I have other interests as well such as hanging out with friends, watching TV, going to the movies from time to time, surfing the internet, listen to good music, drive at speeds I shouldn’t be driving at and so on. The problem is, that’s all stuff everyone likes to do, so why write about it? Oh wait, seems I just did. Oops.

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