Games With Gold was a program born as a response to Sony’s “Instant Game Collection” for PS+ which formed the basis of their paid subscription plan, after an initial period of other titles including PS1 classics it started giving away PS3 games and has built its success around that idea but it took Microsoft a long while to add their own similar service to Xbox Live Gold.
I’m a believer still that despite how the different subscription services have converged to offer the same/similar features that the backbone for each of them are still built off their original foundations: Xbox Live Gold still aims at providing online multiplayer and the best experience for that whilst PS+ aims to offer the best service for providing games to their subscriptions, with online multiplayer being used to get more subscribers.
I don’t want to spend all my time here comparing the services as that’s not my point, more stating what I believe they both set out to do and how Microsoft have improved the Games With Gold service.
It’s certainly been a long road for Xbox One’s offering, starting in June 2014 with Halo Spartan Assault and Max The Curse of Brotherhood Microsoft’s wording was very specific that they would offer two games a month but only one of them would be new to the service, with the other carrying over from the previous month.
Here is a list of the titles we’ve had so far, * indicates it launched on GwG
- June 2014: Halo Spartan Assault/Max The Curse of Brotherhood
- July 2014: Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition* [+ Max]
- August 2014: Crimson Dragon/Strike Suit Zero (Double Month!)
- September 2014: Super Time Force
- October 2014: Chariot* [3 months of Crimson Dragon]
- November 2014: Volgarr The Viking*
- December 2014: Worms Battlegrounds
- January 2015: Dark Dreams Don’t Die (D4)
- February 2015: #IDARB* [3 months of Worms]
- March 2015: Rayman Legends
- April 2015: Pool Nation FX*/Child of Light (Double Month!)
- May 2015: Castlestorm Definitive Edition
- June 2015: Massive Chalice*
- July 2015: Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag/So Many Me* <- Change to two new games a month
- August 2015: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes/How To Survive: Storm Warning Edition
- September 2015: The Deer God*/Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
I’ve focused mainly on the Xbox One offerings because with a new console out with less titles available (compared to the Xbox 360) it certainly has an effect. As the list progresses through though I feel we can see an improvement in the offerings, not to say there have been many “bad” months per se.
A service like this is always going to appeal more to some than others every month because of what people play and buy but with the switch from one new game a month to two and not only that we have had a few big retail titles in their too along with an ID@Xbox or digital only release I think it’s certainly going in the right direction.
Not to forget the Xbox 360 though I felt is also started pretty slowly in mid-2013 with titles such as Assassins Creed II, Rainbow 6 Vegas, Defense Grid, Shoot Many Robots and Gears of War (1), games that were much nearer the launch of the console than more recent times.
2014 had Halo Reach, Sleeping Dogs, Super SFIV, Dishonored and Viva Piñata Trouble in Paradise, edging more towards the middle of the generation for content with games a lot of people liked.
Rounding out 2015 its been a pretty awesome year for Xbox 360: The Witcher 2, Brothers, Tomb Raider, Bioshock Infinite, Gears of War Judgment and 3, Mafia II, Crysis 3 (among others) I think Xbox 360 owners will have certainly been very happy with the “free” games, you can now also get your Xbox One games off the Xbox 360s dashboard to help build a library on that if you are looking to move over to a new console.
Offering two titles a month but one carrying over was something I don’t think was received too well, particularly when some games had 3 month runs and I don’t think that really looked particularly good for them.
Despite its relative infancy I think Games With Gold has shown a good improvement since its inception, it did take Microsoft a while to really “get” what they were offering, as I said I’m not saying there were bad months or games specifically but looking at the lists (via Wikipedia) I think its unquestionable to say its improved a lot.
I must admit I’ve always found releasing a game halfway through the month to be a bit strange but I do think its pretty good how they split them up to give people a couple of weeks to play a game before the next one comes out, a continual stream of games and something to look forward to has its benefits.
Hopefully Microsoft will continue on their current path as it pleases gamers and offers some great content for the system and their subscription.