Originally posted by Mark Stewart
Each month both Microsoft and Sony give away a few free games to their Gold or PS Plus subscribers. Some months we get a plentiful bounty (such as Aprils GWG) and others we get a less fruitful crop (Mays GWG). Obviously this is mostly subjective, and each player will find the selection of games pleasing or displeasing for different reasons, however, it can generally be said that there is a distinct disappointment when you already own one of the games that they’re giving away.
We’ve all been there, waiting to hear what next months titles will be, being so hyped when we read the headline saying that this month is the best yet, and that crushing blow when we find out that its Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag, and I paid a tenner for it the week before. Ok, might have got a little bit personal at the end there, but it’s happened to everyone who has had their console of choice for a while.
The interesting part is what you do next. If you own a physical copy, it invariably ends up getting traded in before everyone else has the same idea and the price drops, but then what? What is there for you in a game that you’ve already played?
I picked up Sunset Overdrive when it first came out. Started it, finished it, played the DLC, built the costume and hung it on my wall in a big frame. I loved that game. I appreciated the light tone, the ridiculous weapons and the numerous pop culture references, and after around 30 hours of gameplay, I had almost all of the achievements. All but 6. Those six were for multiplayer, and by the time I had got to them, the playerbase had tailed off so much that it was difficult to even get into an online game, let alone find one that had players who weren’t there by accident, or who had a rough idea of what was going on. Even if I went down the route of getting people together, the achievements were really tough without a team of 8, and my organisational skills weren’t good enough to get that to happen. I had to forget about it and chalk it up to a lost cause.
Months passed, and I slowly forgot about it.
Then, around 18 months after its original release, Microsoft put it on Games With Gold. People flooded the online servers that were once empty, and the hope of me getting those final achievements and round out the Gamerscore to a nice even 1925G (seriously Insomniac?) was back.
Giving a game to everyone gives it a unique quality. It grants players with a shared experience that they can talk about, and makes finding something to play together a whole lot easier. It’s perceivably why Rocket League did so well with launching for free for PS+ subscribers. If you’ve found a party of people that you want to play with, you don’t want that group to be cut in half because some of them don’t own the same games.
I think this is what these free game programs are about, giving players a selection of games to play together, and highlighting the best of what each console has to offer. It allows people who have never played the games before to experience something new, and it gives to people who have already played them a wider audience of people to talk to about that experience.
Now, does anyone want a second hand copy of Black Flag?
Sunset Overdrive is still available to Xbox Live Gold members for free until 15/05/16 : http://www.xbox.com/en-GB/LIVE/games-with-gold