Home / Editorial / Microsoft’s Games With Gold Promotion Sucks

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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  • John Joe Silver

    You’re comparing a system that has been implemented for what 5 months now to a service that is numerous years old? look back at the IGC when it started, the offerings then were as poor as the offerings with GwG.

    if the programme is still aloada crap when it boots up with Xbox One then yeah MS deserve the ridicule but ridiculing a 5 month old programme is a bit harsh

  • dirkradke

    Ridiculing free stuff is stupid anytime even if you think the games are crap. Although you can get Gears of War 3 for $12 from Amazon right now with free shipping & handling. That is still $12 you don’t have to pay if they offer it and you want it.

  • Sik Beni

    Microsoft are all about making you pay through the anus and getting the minimal out of it.

    Xbox One releases at a premium price, is a weaker system but allows TV, on your TV wow, what a break through!

    When it comes to features the Xbox One is crippled, how’s that party chat treating ya?

    The point to this all is, why are you surprised? This is how Microsoft roll, charge a premium and give you the bare minimum.

  • Guest

    i remember when Sony started there PlayStation plus there were only giving away indie titles and ps1 games. It takes time to make deals.

  • therealestmofo

    there both shit… gamers who are dedicated enough to have subscriptions own atleast 70% off what they offer.. and they pass off shitty indie games like there doing us a favor.. they probably getting paid by those indie peeps to get there game out LOL all a complete an utter scam really… take your shit games and give me 50% off my subscription !

  • datdude

    The headline says it all. I would only add that Microsoft as a whole sucks.

  • datdude

    Your argument is counterintuitive. It is because it is a new service that has a large backlog of games to offer that it sucks. Because it has a large catalog to offer yet offers nothing is why it sucks. Get it? They had plenty of time to see what Sony did and try to match the value. Instead, they show why they are falling behind. They could offer more recent titles, they simply don’t. They don’t seem to get it. And neither do you.

  • John Joe Silver

    i never denied it sucked in fact i said it’s aloada crap (for most people but for me i’ve gotten a large chunk of the games like DR2, magic, defense grid, might and magic, keflings, iron bridage and i’ll be picking up shoot many robots all of which i wouldn’t have looked at otherwise)… they’re offerings are poor to those comparing it to the 2013 PS+ yeah no doubt… also MS have to get agreements in place with the owners of the IPs for the newer games, Sony didn’t start pumping out quality titles (depending on your view of quality) on IGC until 2012 (2 years after the programme started)… that’s why i said wait till a year has passed then feel free to ridicule it

  • xbox_gamer

    ms sales rdr 30 bucks, get it for 17.00 in store and sony sold it for 5 bucks a few weeks ago. Ms grid 2 is demo ,ps3 the game is free. Ms fight some dumb robots for free .Ps3 borerlands 2 free. ms -gear of war 1 free, Sony binary domain and dragons dogma free. It might not of matter before but now it does since they are now both paid services. I won’t buy another 360 download. why would you. Do you buy wii downloads on the wii if you have a wiiu that plays wii games and wii downloads, I don’t

  • datdude

    Fair enough, but to suggest Microsoft “needs time” to get agreements in place is risible, as developers jump at opportunities like this. It’s a chance to achieve a wider audience that otherwise would never buy the product. Those people may buy future products from that developer if they enjoy their experience. That’s not even taking into account the relationships with the devs Microsoft has already fostered and cultivated, getting decent games to offer is not that complicated nor political. And what you’re saying suggests Microsoft slapped and cobbled this program together overnight, which is ludicrous as psplus has been around for many years now so there is no excuse for Microsoft’s shabby implementation of their own “free games” program. Any argument to the contrary is just making excuses for the company. It’s not good enough. Do it right or don’t do it at all. Don’t half arse it and call it a success.

  • jaffa

    Oh..GearsOfWar ?

    That game in black&white with only some
    red blood splash, with no plot introduction at all, with macro-cephalos
    excessive characters heads, with bland textured enemies also

    indiscernible from main characters, ?..no thanks

  • Guest

    Do you realize that when IGC was released, it had inFAMOUS 2, Just Cause 2, LittleBigPlanet 2, Ratchet and Clank All-4-One, Saints Row 2, and along with other games, all in the first month it was released. And every month it continued with more and more games, one’s that people actually wanted to play.

  • John Joe Silver

    eh no it didn’t, Wipeout HD was the first game on IGC followed by Zen Pinball… infamous 2 was almost 2 years after IGC programme began along with the rest of those titles

  • John J. McCalister Jr.

    The first part of your statement may be true on PSN but on XBL, you have to have a subscription to do pretty much anything. The only thing that I dont like about GwG is the lack of selection. I own pretty much every non-arcade title that they have offered so GwG is really not much of a benefit to me. PS+ atleast offers a selection so I would have a MUCH better chance to get a game that I do not already own

  • Well, to be fair, Microsoft took apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus and HBO Go out from behind the Xbox Live Gold pay wall so you don’t have to pay to access those anymore.

  • Jeremy

    I don’t give a shit if it’s free when the competition is giving away BETTER games for free. Accepting something just because its free, is such a low standard.,

  • Jeremy

    You have no standards.

  • Dirkster_Dude

    You have no sense.

  • Pretty Panther

    They only did that because no one was using them.

  • Pretty Panther

    Very true.

  • Joshua

    Here it is 3 years later and there has still been few to little good One games…I have actually decided to give up on Xbox and go with Sony. I seem to get more for my money with the PS than with Xbone. And saddest part is I’ve been an Xbox supporter since 2007 but I’ve all but given up on it