Microsoft announced its plans for Games with Gold next month, and it’s clear the company is using this feature as a way to promote some big holiday releases.
Xbox One owners that subscribe to Xbox Live Gold will get two new games with that membership next month. One is the acclaimed pixel-art indie game The Deer God and the other is 2013’s Tomb Raider. The latter is an interesting and obvious choice for this program as Microsoft has inked a deal with Square Enix to ensure the sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, only launches on Xbox One this holiday. With that anticipate launch in mind, Microsoft and Square Enix are obviously treating the inclusion of Tomb Raider in the Games with Gold program as a marketing opportunity.
Gamers can get both The Deer God and Tomb Raider on their Xbox One starting early next month.
This isn’t the first time that Microsoft or Sony has used their subscription services to promote upcoming releases. This is actually the second month in a row that Gold members on Xbox One are getting the immediate precursor to a major fall release.
As part of the August Games with Gold lineup, Microsoft worked with Konami to unleash Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, a miniature-sized Metal Gear that is about the size of a demo. Sony offered the same game in June.
This kind of “free game” marketing makes a lot of sense. Older games like Tomb Raider have largely saturated the consumer base and won’t make a ton more money for Square Enix. But if it gets players excited about the sequel, it could serve a very important purpose. This also shows the game-selling tools and power that the console manufacturers have. While games may look better on PC, the decentralized, open-to-everyone nature of gaming on Windows means that big games can often sell far better on a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a prime example of a developer knowing that game-selling prowess of the consoles.
“With The Witcher 3, we knew that we would have to reach a wider audience,” CD Projekt Red communications boss Mical Gilewski said in an interview with VG247. “We needed to be on the new consoles and in particular the PS4, because a lot of people are attracted to them.”
And with The Witcher 3’s success on consoles as well as PC — it has landed in the top 10 best-selling games at U.S. retail every month since its May release — Gilewski’s claim proved accurate. Now, let’s just wait until The Witcher 4 when maybe we’ll get The Witcher 3 for free as part of our PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold subscriptions.