Microsoft is changing the way subscribers of its premium service will get free games, and this might turn out positive for you, publishers, and Microsoft.
Games with Gold is coming to Xbox One in June. Customers that subscribe to the Xbox Live Gold service will have the opportunity to get physics puzzler Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and third-person shooter Halo: Spartan Assault at no additional charge during that month. Unlike for the Xbox 360, however, gamers will lose access to those releases if they cease their subscription to Xbox Live. This is how PlayStation Plus works for PS3 and PS4 — and Microsoft wants to start offering comparable games on Xbox One.
We asked Xbox marketing chief Yusuf Medhi if Microsoft was changing to Sony’s way of doing things so that it could offer more recent releases as part of Games with Gold. Turns out that is the case.
“Yeah, part of the reason is exactly what you said,” Mehdi told GamesBeat. “[This change] enables us to pivot the model to offer more value and potentially more games. It works well for our game partners and publishers. It actually works out to be a better value proposition for all concerned.”
That’s because Microsoft could potentially offer better deals to third-party publishers because customers are more likely to keep subscribing to Xbox Live Gold. That means Microsoft gets more people subscribing for a longer amount of time; publishers potentially get more money from Microsoft; and gamers might get a better selection of software.
Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 both introduced free-game programs last generation. Sony’s model enabled it to offer more recent releases because players must maintain a subscription to PlayStation Plus to ensure access to the software. With Games with Gold on Xbox 360, Microsoft permanently gives games to customers who may only join the premium service for just a month.
Microsoft made this announcement today as part of a set of changes to the Xbox One that includes introducing a model of the system without the Kinect camera for $399. That’s the same price as the PS4. The price change as well as the tweak to Games with Gold brings almost complete feature parity between the two systems, as long as Microsoft does end up delivering on the potential of its free-games service.