Microsoft announced the Xbox Games with Gold program at E3 2013, with gamers almost immediately panning it as a last-minute (desperate?) PlayStation Plus knockoff. Nine months later, Xbox Games with Gold has become a hot topic as gamers enter each new month, as the system offers two free games to all Xbox Live Gold subscribers.
The only problem: Xbox Games with Gold only applies to Xbox 360. As of today, Xbox One owners are left out in the cold, as they aren’t eligible for the Xbox Games with Gold program.
That will soon change, it seems. Speaking to IGN at the Game Developers Conference, Xbox executive Phil Spencer, who was named king of all things Xbox today, said Microsoft definitely plans to implement the Xbox Games with Gold program on Xbox One. He just isn’t ready to talk timing yet, and he says it’ll look a bit different when it finally does appear.
“The Games With Gold program on Xbox 360 has been successful for us,” Spencer told IGN. “It’s been part of the value people see in [Xbox Live] Gold … that isn’t on Xbox One [currently]… We haven’t announced a plan, but … we understand the expectation that people have…. It might not look exactly the way things have looked in the past, but … that perk for being a Gold subscriber is important to people, something we definitely hear.”
The revelation that Xbox Games with Gold is coming to Xbox One is bittersweet, coming as it did on the last day of March. Starting tomorrow, Xbox 360 owners who are Xbox Live Gold subscribers can download Hitman: Absolution for free as part of the Games with Gold April promotion. Normally the game costs $20. From April 16-30, the Xbox Games with Gold free download will be Deadlight.
Neither of those games will be available to Xbox One owners with an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Xbox 360 owners, however, will be sitting pretty.
Not having Xbox Games with Gold on Microsoft’s next-gen system is both ironic and understandable. On the ironic side of things, the Xbox One costs much more than the Xbox 360 and, as a newer system, needs to pick up more early adopters and more sales momentum. To not have Games with Gold on Xbox One thus seems like a miss.
However, the omission makes sense for the simple reason that the Xbox One isn’t backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games. Those titles are, by and large, the freebies included in the Games with Gold program. Microsoft and other publishers aren’t likely to poach current sales of new Xbox One games just for the sake of a (presumably) quickly thought-out marketing program. So, Xbox One owners are stuck with no Games with Gold.
Hearing Microsoft is working on an Xbox Games with Gold program for its new console is heartening, though. We may not know the timing for its rollout, and by Spencer’s own admission not even Microsoft knows exactly what the Games with Gold program will look like on Xbox One. But in some form it’ll be there, perhaps with original programming thrown-in with the free game content, or maybe one premium app (MLB.tv or the NFL app, anyone?).
What would you like to see in the Xbox Games with Gold program on Xbox One? Are two free games per month sufficient,? Would you like to see more, or perhaps a package comprised partly of free game(s) and partly free “entertainment” content? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.