Last month, Xbox One owners finally got a taste of what 360 owners had and loved for a year: Games with Gold. This program, an answer (albeit a poor man’s answer) to Sony’s Playstation Plus Instant Game Collection program, gives gamers with an Xbox Live Gold account access to download games from the marketplace for free, and keep them as long as they have the account. First announced at E3 2013, gamers were excited for the chance at free games, however, the lineup at first was nowhere near what we had hoped.
Fable III, Defense Grid: The Awakening, and Assassins Creed 2 were the first few games available for download. The problem with the program in its early stages was the fact that the games they offered for free were games most people already owned. Fable III had been out for nearly 3 years at that point, and Assassins Creed 2 was nearly 4 years old. The trend continued with games like Rainbow Six: Vegas, a game that was 6 years old when offered by the program, Halo 3, which was 5 years old, and the ORIGINAL Gears of War, another 6 year old game. I started to wonder what exactly was the point of all this.
Why are the games being offered so old? I mean, granted, they are all good games, but these are titles that people have already played ages ago. Gears of War, for instance, was a Triple A title. A title that people either bought when it first came out, or they didn’t like shooters. Same goes for Halo 3. So was this program for the kids who didn’t have the opportunity to play them before because they were too young? To entice new Xbox 360 owners? What about the loyalists? What about the people who had a 360 at launch? Why give me games I played 6 years ago? Granted Playstation’s program had a 3 year head start, but they were offering up to 6 games at a time. Some for Vita, some for PSP, most for PS3, but they were either top notch indie/arcade titles (The Cave, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, NFL Blitz, NBA Jam, etc.) or Triple A titles (Battlefield 3, Borderlands, Demon’s Souls, etc.) True, these games weren’t brand new when Sony first offered them either, but the wait time was drastically shorter. You will see what I mean at the end of the article. It just seemed like Xbox knew this was a big selling point for PS3 and had to combat it, they just went about it all wrong.
Last year, the next generation of gaming was upon us. Sony’s Playstation Plus was now mandatory for online multiplayer on the PS4 (a feature that was free for the PS3), but you got the added benefit of the instant game collection. The program started right back up, not with much of a bang (the system was brand new for Christ’s sake) but it started nonetheless. Microsoft said “it’s coming, along with all kinds of other stuff like HBO GO,” (which we’re STILL waiting for) but after that, there wasn’t much noise about it. It continued on 360, with games like A World of Keflings, and Shoot Many Robots (weemp womp.) We then received word that Games with Gold was really coming this time.
June 3rd, Xbox One owners got their first taste of free games with Halo: Spartan Assault and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood (you can read my review of Max in my next post.) My initial thought was that it was a decent start. They got casual gamers with the Halo name (although it is NOT Halo) along with a good platformer in Max. I didn’t expect a big title simply because it is too new of a system. They’re not going to give away a launch title, although Forza would have been nice, since the UK got it for free with their system, or FIFA to go along with this World Cup nonsense, but I digress. I downloaded my freebies, and instantly started wondering what was next? What’s coming in July?!
Well, it was announced that July 2nd, Xbox One owners are getting Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. Max is staying on, but Halo is being removed from the program July 1st. Guac, as it will be known forth, is another platformer which has garnered rave reviews (the first game on last gen scored an 84/100 on Metacritic) and is making its debut on the system with this installment. I like the addition of the game, although I am still anticipating the “WOW” moment when I feel like the program really delivers something that blows me away. 360 owners get 2 new games:
Gotham City Imposters (65/100) on July 1st (a game that Sony offered 2 years ago… See what I meant about shorter wait times?) and
BattleBlock Theater (85/100) on July 15th.
I can only assume larger titles will be coming in the future. With the system still in its infancy, there is still plenty of time for Games with Gold to evolve. I just hope the July 2020 game of the month isn’t Ryse: Son of Rome. What do you think of this month’s offerings? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org! Til next time…