You can’t please everyone.

I appreciate this was always the case, but now – largely thanks to the internet, comments sections and especially Twitter – you also get the pleasure of being constantly reminded of it.  Combined with a seemingly endless sense of entitlement and increasingly casual attitude to piracy – why pay for anything when I can download it for free?* – it means I very rarely see anything positive about programs like Xbox Live’s Games with Gold (GWG).

So, in the face of the constant whining:

“It’s a year old, where are the brand new AAA titles?”

“I’ve already got it, why can’t they have picked [another title]?”

“It’s not free, Gold costs me £40 a year”

“I just downloaded it in the sale, damn you M$ what a con!”

I’d like to take a minute (just sit right there…) and give credit where it’s due.  From where I’m standing GWG, and by extension Xbox live Gold subscription, is actually now incredible value.  Here’s why:

Tomb Raider TDE

Today (16th September) saw Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (Metacritic rating: 86) added to the service for Xbox live Gold members to download and enjoy for nothing.  I completed the game on Xbox 360 but I’m downloading as we speak and looking forward to revisiting Yamatai and experiencing the Lara’s journey just as soon as I can.  Despite a well-discussed lack of actual tombs, I thought it was one of the best games of the last few years and it will be the perfect warm up to November’s promising-looking sequel.

Yes, a game that improves on what was already game of the year contender on last gen and is the closest Xbox owners will get to the excellent Uncharted series is now available for “free” to Xbox Live Gold members. And let’s remember that this is not the first time we’ve received a triple-A retail title either.  Since the Xbox One launched both Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (83**) and Rayman Legends (91) have been made available while MGS: Ground Zeroes and great digital titles like Child of Light (82) should also not be forgotten.

And what’s next?  Well, remember that Microsoft already announced that all future Xbox 360 GWG titles will be playable on Xbox One through backwards compatibilty when it launches in November.  That will mean 4 free titles plus online multiplayer etc for £3.33 a month (assuming you pay annually and buy direct from Microsoft) or significantly less if you shop around.  If you ask me, that compares pretty well to the £5.50 I had to pay for a pint yesterday.

And what about Sony?  Well, Playstation Plus has had some excellent stuff too (including the brilliant Rocket League) and being able to vote is interesting but it’s another area where I feel Sony is now getting complacent.  Still “for the players” or resting on their laurels?  Playstation Plus, I say it’s time to up your game.


*   I see this so often and it depresses me hugely.  The only argument I do have sympathy for is that it’s often harder to access a legal copy thanks to ridiculous DRM – but that’s maybe one for another time.

** Technically, no score is available for the Xbox One version as it only has 3 reviews.  We’ve taken the score from the PS4 version as a rough approximation, resolution and other tedious crap aside.  The 3 Xbox One reviews average 88.

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