Games With GoldMicrosoft hasn’t had the best public image in the last few months. The reveal for their next generation console, the Xbox One, was a complete disaster. Their messages were contradictory, confusing, and not at all unified of what they wanted to do, and the gaming press was lobbing complaints at them on a daily basis. After a decent presence at E3 2013, Microsoft completely went back on their stance of an “always online” console, which was met with a lukewarm reception. However, one of the things that Microsoft is doing to earn favor with the gaming public is to offer a “free games” service, Games With Gold, and is comparable to Sony’s PlayStation Plus model. Being Microsoft, they’ve decided to butcher this possible plus for them, too, and for many reasons.

There’s been a mixed message at what is going to be offered and when. At E3 2013, Microsoft showcased Halo 3 and Assassin’s Creed II as two titles that would be offered to Gold subscribers. The wording made it sound like that these two games would be the first two offered in July, but that’s not the case. No, for the month of July, we’re being offered 2009’s Defense Grid: The Awakening. No, I haven’t heard of it, either. You’d think the first month they’re offering free titles, it’d be with a bit more of a bang rather than a whimper. Sure, many 360 owners already have Halo 3 and Assassin’s Creed II, but for newer owners, it would have been a great incentive to join in. Instead we’re getting a four year old tower defense game.

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Meanwhile, PlayStation Plus is throwing out games that are less than a year old – specifically, XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Saints Row: The Third. And that’s just on PS3, as the Vita is getting great titles like Gravity Rush and Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the very same subscription. It’s only the first month, so it’s not particularly fair to cast judgement on Games With Gold right now, but they need a heavy hitter to get them out of the dumps. Something like Fallout 3 or Skyrim would fill that void nicely, even if they are starting to show their age, too.

The Xbox 360 easily has the backlogging to push out some seriously awesome games. While the various sales that are going on as we speak are a step in the right direction, it really seems like it’s too late for the rapidly-aging console. Unlike PlayStation Plus, which has been going strong for a whole year now, this Games With Gold promotion will only last until the end of this year, which means we’ll be getting exactly twelve games from now until then, and there’s no telling if more of them will be arcade titles like Defense Grid. However, there is one edge Games With Gold has over PlayStation Plus – you’re able to keep the games you download when your Gold subscription expires.Xbox

Sure, Microsoft doesn’t technically “owe” us anything, but the games we’ve been offered so far – Fable III and Defense Grid – are a little lackluster. PlayStation Plus always keeps it fresh by giving out newer and more varied titles, though at the cost of keeping your PlayStation Plus subscription. There’s no perfect solution so far, and it’s nice to see giant corporations throw the consumer a bone every once in a while. Let’s just hope Microsoft puts a little more meat on the next one.

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