First off, I hate complaining about free games. Even if Microsoft picked the crappiest games available to offer for free, who cares, right? They’re free; just enjoy the something that you are getting for nothing. But let’s face it: Microsoft created this program to compete with PlayStation Plus and entice people to buy a Gold account. It’s a failure on both fronts.
Counting the releases announced for next month, let’s take a look at the games Microsoft has given us: Fable 3, Defense Grid: The Awakening, Assassin’s Creed 2, Crackdown, Deadrising 2, Deadrising: Case Zero, Rainbow Six; Vegas and Magic 2013. While none of them are particularly new or exciting, they are solid. Assassin’s Creed 2 and Deadrising 2 are probably the best of the bunch, and they aren’t exactly cutting edge.
Now let’s look at what PlayStation Plus has offered in that same span: Saint’s Row: The Third, Machinarium, Uncharted 3, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, LittleBigPlanet Karting, Battlefield 3, Jet Set Radio, Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee HD, Bit.Trip Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, Hitman: Absolution, Zen Pinball 2: Star Wars, Galaga Legions DX, Resident Evil: Chronicles HD Collection and Ico. That’s just for the PS3. The VIta has also got its own line of free games, including notables like Rayman: Origins, Metal Slug XX, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward and Darkstalkers chronicle.
It’s not even close.
Again, I’m not complaining about free games, and I’ve even enjoyed my time with a few of them. But Microsoft announced this as a big deal, and the offerings are anything but. The biggest announcement at the time was that Halo 3 (which will be six years old next month) would be available as a freebie. As of now, though, we have no idea when it’s coming. Instead, we’re getting a fairly good game that a relatively small part of the population will enjoy (Magic 2013) and an even older game (Rainbow Six: Vegas). We couldn’t at least get the sequel, or heck, one of the newer Tom Clancy games?
So as much as I hate complaining about freebies, there is little denying that Games With Gold is nowhere near the dealmaker it was supposed to be. Microsoft has taken a lot of steps lately to raise the negative public perception, but offering higher quality games to their loyal customers seems like it would be an easy step to take. If they were attempting to pull in a PlayStation Plus member or two based on free games quality, they have utterly failed.
Everybody loves free games, but Microsoft could certainly give us more to love than this.