Playstation Plus has been an exceptionally hard deal to resist. This month has seen the likes of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Saints Row: The Third, and Sony’s flagship Uncharted series being offered for free. For Microsoft to compete with their new “Games with Gold” initiative, they really have to bring out the big guns.
Well, I suppose Defense Grid: The Awakening is a fine game. In terms of raw value, though, the game is a bit mismatched. Not only was this title offered for free on PC a mere month ago, but it sells for a measly $10 on Xbox Live Arcade.
In addition to this game, Microsoft is also giving Fable III out. While many gamers consider that game the worst in the series, I’m more concerned with something else. During E3, Microsoft already gave Fable III away. They even gave it to people with Xbox Live Silver, forgoing a subscription to Gold.
This all comes on the heels of Sony announcing a massive sale on PSN for some really stellar bundles (Ratchet and Clank). Clearly, Microsoft has no idea what they are doing. Sony has been getting this right for a while now. Instead of leveraging an unknown indie game as their centerpiece, Sony usually trots those out in addition to heavy hitters.
In fact, at this very moment, the excellent Machinarium is available next to the three games I mentioned above. Sony has also given away Retro City Rampage and Closure, helping those devs get more exposure while enticing customers into Plus.
What Sony has also been doing correctly is timeliness. Retro City Rampage was offered for free on the day of its release. So was Double Dragon: Neon. Plus subscribers were able to check them out and then relay to their friends whether the purchase was worthy. Defense Grid has been out for four years.
The games Microsoft actually announced for this program, Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3, are also archaic in comparison to the offerings on Plus. Sure, quality will always beat sheer quantity, but Sony has been giving gamers a strong incentive to sign up for their service.
If you could have all the latest games at no additional cost, wouldn’t you prefer to pay for that service? Microsoft is just using a back catalog of “critically acclaimed” titles to make their service sound better. Throw in the idea that pretty much any 360 owner has either owned or played Halo 3 and I’m not sure why that game is on offer.
I bring this up because of how poorly Microsoft has been doing lately. I don’t mean to add more fuel to the fire, but I really just want Microsoft to wise up. Instead of pulling a bait and switch with their games service, why not copy what Sony is doing?
Maybe you can’t get the same games or developers are just less willing to leverage their content on Live? Okay, that sounds reasonable. Why haven’t you offered Halo 4 and Gears of War: Judgment instead? Halo 4 definitely didn’t disappoint with sales figures, but you have a bunch of people like me who just do not want to pay $60 for that game.
Gears of War flopped badly, though. It sold Five times less than Gears of War 3. I’m sure Epic wouldn’t mind having their title displayed as a reason to own an Xbox 360, so why not give it a chance? Worst case scenario, Gears of War doesn’t sell better, but you get people interested in Live Gold. More subscribers will only help you in the end, Microsoft. I say this out of love for what the 360 was back in 2008. I truly thought it was the greatest console ever released. With a studio like Microsoft behind it, though, what did I really expect? They have a history of abandoning their projects and I’m worried that the 360 is next. All of us gamers who invested money in virtual catalogs on Live Arcade are probably going to lose everything in the long run.
I don’t honestly believe Sony will be any different, but at least in the here and now, their free games catalog is booming. Lots of niche titles, lots of indie games and some incredibly topical mainstream releases; Sony definitely has the right idea. Maybe after the backlash of comments I’ve seen today, Microsoft really will pull their heads out of the ground and listen to the fans. We just want a deal worth paying for. If you consistently ignore us, you won’t be around for very much longer.