Each and every month we have rumors and speculations about Xbox Live Games With Gold and PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection. Mostly what rumors state in the wait of those games getting official doesn’t happen (actually I don’t remember cases where rumors were totally true about that topic). But why, and what does this really lead to? Let’s take a look at the reasons why this happens, then, at why people basically lose their minds when the second half of each month finally starts, and to everything that happens behind closed doors in response (or not) to players’ expectations.
That people keep talking about what’s next in free games lineups is something we understand. Gamers like free stuff, although they actually pay for what they are getting – both PS Plus and Xbox Live are subscription based services now including titles delivered without any additional charge. And this is the main reason why everyone keeps wanting more. In the wait of new games being announced, we discuss about what’s next and often complain about those which get announced because they’re never up to our expectations. And incredibly those expectations get higher and higher, even though both Sony and Microsoft constantly disappoint us for whatever we think they should actually offer – and they never said they would and they never did.
Is the press accountable for all this? I don’t think. I think Sony and Microsoft should be more honest and clearer with their customers, making the scheme behind the free games’ decision public. “We offer each month one indie game and one 2014 title”, Microsoft should say, for example. “We offer each month one indie game at its launch and another digital/$19,99 title”, Sony could say about PS4’s PlayStation Plus free games monthly lineup. That would allow customers to choose wisely if and what invest their money on, and would stop rumors once and for all.
WHAT DOES THIS LEAD TO?
Rumors and expectations basically leads to… nothing. Things are not getting better and won’t, if ever, before a long time. Both Sony and Microsoft (and possibly Nintendo when NX comes) are huge companies which plan their moves long before those get public, so a shift in their free games strategy is still requiring a lot of time. It’s not like something is going to happen next month or the following. And it’s not like they decide one month after another how to move when it comes to deliver free games. They decide from time to time what to offer, but the bigger picture, the scheme behind the free games project, comes much earlier than each month’s titles announcement.
Sony has the “digital games offered for free at day one”, which leads to: monthly lineups being announced pretty late as they need more time to finalize every publishing detail indie games being the biggest part of their free games offer, since AAA titles producer would be harder to involve in such risky project in terms of income Microsoft has instead understood people who had a PlayStation Plus subscription wanted their platform holder to issue not necessarily the most recent games but the games with the biggest value out there. This is why Xbox One Thief is much more appreciated than Broforce although the first comes a couple years later its official release and the latter on day one.
June Games With Gold are yet another example of that. Xbox One free games feature 2014 The Crew and the not so recent, if not almost out of trend, Goat Simulator. The Crew was released almost two years ago but Microsoft doesn’t really seem to care about this. It’s a game 5 million users played since launch so it’s actually not as bad as one would guess, and is somehow legitimating MS’ choice of delivering games people love, not games people should eventually love.
It’s a different philosophy in comparison with Sony’s and we’re asking here which you think is the best in your opinion (disclaimer: at the time of writing Sony has yet to announce June free PlayStation titles). Of course, the thing we really believe should stop now and forever is the constant run towards the leak, speculation and “suggestions” leading to things that won’t ever happen. Red Dead Redemption isn’t coming free to Xbox 360 this month, and probably won’t anytime soon.