Microsoft, like its two competitors, finally realized that giving back to loyal subscribers is not such a bad idea, and is now following in the footsteps of its competitors by enhancing Xbox Live Gold for the Xbox One with added benefits similar to Sony’s PlayStation Plus program and Nintendo’s Reward System.
Last week, Microsoft officially announced that, starting in 2014, Xbox Live Gold members will receive free access to select Xbox One games on a monthly basis. The announcement expands the Games with Gold program, which first started as a test service during this year’s E3. Games with Gold gave Xbox Live Gold members two free Xbox 360 games every month. Now, the service will give members Xbox Live Arcade games and full games for the Xbox One, too.
For years, Xbox Live was the premiere online service for console gamers, and as the community began to grow, competitive gaming grew as a household name and features were added to Xbox Live Gold. But one thing I never understood over these years of growth were the lack of rewards or gifts for loyal members, especially with a “pay to play” infrastructure.
A missed opportunity to start these incentives was during Xbox Live’s tenth anniversary, when the dashboard was updated to match the infrastructure of Windows 8. While it would have been nice if Microsoft had added Games with Gold to Xbox Live Gold earlier, it is never too late to implement an incentives program. Aside from Nintendo, Microsoft’s Xbox has one of the most loyal communities; it was a no-brainer to add a program like this. Another incentive that Xbox Live Gold added was the potential for Gamerscore to be translated into a rebate on items purchased through Xbox, but some would argue that the rebate program is not competitive with PlayStation Plus’ free games.
Microsoft now sees that Sony and Nintendo were headed in the right direction by showing their consumers appreciation for their hard-spent dollars. Games with Gold for Xbox One may also entice PlayStation players to think about getting an Xbox One, since Xbox Live Gold is now competitive with PlayStation Plus. Overall, I am very proud of Microsoft for giving Gold members the benefit of getting their money back with some free games. The only question I have about the added on benefits is, will members get arcade games that are bland and old Xbox 360 or third-party titles? So far, most of the games rewarded by the Xbox 360’s Games with Gold program have been years old, but PlayStation Plus’s rewards program frequently offers newer games for free. Seeing as the announcement did mention Xbox One, it looks like probably a lot of indie games will be featured for free.
Let us know you thoughts on the added on incentives. Do you think the games will be relevant, or does Games with Gold have some kinks that will need to be ironed out before it is favorable?
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