It would be an understatement to say that Microsoft’s recent announcement that they would begin offering Xbox One bundles at a reduced price without a Kinect has shaken up gamers everywhere. As something that was once purported to be an essential part of the console’s experience, the sudden shift left many gamers feeling cheated and provided another spark in the ever-present console wars.

Amid all the buzz this announcement generated, certain aspects of the fine print went largely unnoticed. One particularly positive aspect of the announcement highlighted the fact that Microsoft’s Games with Gold program would finally be making its way to the Xbox One with Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault leading the charge as the console’s first free offerings. While many assumed this program would be identical to its Xbox 360 counterpart, the next-gen version of the program will instead mirror that of Sony’s PlayStation Plus service.

Whereas the Xbox 360 version of the service allowed gamers to lapse on their subscription of Xbox Live Gold and still retain playable versions of their downloaded games, the Xbox One version will require gamers to have an active subscription for their downloaded free games to be playable. In addition to this (like PlayStation Plus) the games will only be available to download – and then retain indefinitely – during a specific window of time. While many will be quick to decry this change, in the long run it could very well improve the service.

“Free Games Offer: For paid Gold members only. On Xbox One, active Gold membership required to play free games you’ve downloaded. Must download titles during designated window. Kinect and/or hard drive required for some games.”

Xbox One Updates Date Details

In the service’s previous state, the incentive for gamers to retain an active subscription to the service was minimal. Now, there is a far stronger push to develop a larger, more active community of gamers. It’s no surprise that PlayStation Plus has had great success in offering strong, reasonably recent titles to their subscribers. While Microsoft has had a noticeably weaker showing overall, the terms now shared between the companies will hopefully stand to improve the quality of products offered on the service, fostering a stronger sense of competition between the two platforms.

Between this service change and the removal of Kinect as a required pack-in, it’s reasonable that some gamers may worry about the company’s future. With the console still in its infancy though, changes are to be expected and if these will inevitably benefit the platform as time passes, then they may be a necessary evil. As evidenced by their multiple system updates, it’s clear that Microsoft isn’t afraid to change things up if they see the possibility of improvement. With E3 less than a month away and Microsoft poised to focus their press conference on the games, the next few months will be an interesting time for the console veteran.

Do you think Game with Gold will be able to remain competitive with Sony’s strong subscription service? What titles would you like to see included in the service’s future?


Follow Ryan on Twitter @ThatRyanB.

Source: Xbox Wire