With many gamers looking ahead to the release of Microsoft’s new Xbox One with great anticipation, one could be forgiven for thinking the Xbox 360’s demise is looming on the horizon. However, since the company has now officially announced that the “Games with Gold” program will be extended for good, it seems that Microsoft is making a concerted effort to continue supporting those customers that are not quite ready to make the transition to their next generation systems.
Games with Gold Launch and Benefits
Games with Gold was originally launched at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), earlier this year. The scheme was enacted to reward Microsoft’s loyal Xbox Live Gold members, old and new, by serving up two free video game downloads, per month, from July through to December, 2013. A mix of different Xbox Live Arcade and Games on Demand titles have, thus far, been made available.
Once the download has been made, the games remain associated with the customer’s account and are indefinitely owned. However, each game is only available free for a limited duration; if Xbox gamers miss the freebie, there is no way to reinstate the elapsed deal.
With the system proving to be very successful, the company has stated their intention to make Games with Gold a permanent fixture. The bonus was recently posted on the Xbox website, explaining that gamers had managed to clock up over 120 million hours of gameplay from these free downloadable games.
Microsoft officials delivered the following message to gamers:
“Today, as a part of the ‘Week of Xbox Live,’ we’re excited to announce that we are making Games with Gold an ongoing benefit for Xbox Live Gold members on Xbox 360.”
Thus far, a diverse array of titles have been on offer, including blockbuster hits such as Assassin’s Creed 2, Halo 3, Crackdown and Dead Rising 2.
A Response to Sony’s PlayStation Network Plan?
Many believe this token effort to be a reactionary measure to Sony’s recent initiative, regarding PlayStation Plus. The PlayStation Network’s premium subscription scheme is slated to cost $50 annually. According to Engadget, coughing up this fee will benefit users with two free game titles every month. In addition, a number of PSN titles will be discounted by as much as 50 percent, whilst willing subscribers are to be provided early access to betas and hour-long “trial before you buy” sessions for games.
Microsoft has remained noncommittal when it comes to discussing whether the scheme will, eventually, arrive on the Xbox One. However, they have specified that the company has no plans to introduce the scheme for the new console “at this time.” Meanwhile, Sony have confirmed that the benefits of the PlayStation Plus plan will automatically extend to the PlayStation 4.
Impressive 360 Unit Sales
In other 360 news, Microsoft also recently announced the sale figures for their aging console to have reached 80 million units, shipped to worldwide retailers. This does not mean
that 80 million Xbox 360s have been sold to customers, but reflects the distribution of the afore-mentioned number of devices to retailers, in preparation for customer demand.
In addition, IGN reports that impressive Grand Theft Auto V sales figures have helped to boost the total revenue from Xbox 360 software up to a healthy $401.2 million, for the U.S. alone during the September month.
Gamers are encouraged to check out Xbox Wire and Major Nelson’s blog posts for further updates on the expected Games with Gold titles.
By: James Fenner