The Current State of Xbox Games with Gold

Dear reader, as an avid Xbox gamer, you likely have questions regarding Microsoft‘s long-running Games with Gold program. Launched in 2013, Games with Gold has offered subscribers to Xbox Live Gold complimentary games each month. However, recent changes like removing Xbox 360 games have led some to wonder if Microsoft is slowly phasing out this service in favor of its Netflix-style Game Pass offering.

To help determine Games with Gold‘s current status and future viability for savvy gamers like yourself, let‘s explore what the latest October 2022 updates reveal.

An Iconic Service Showing its Age

First, some background. Since starting nearly a decade ago, Games with Gold has made over $930 worth of digital games available to Gold subscribers according to Microsoft‘s own figures. For devoted Xbox fans, grabbing each month‘s freebie titles became almost a ritual.

However, Xbox execs have admitted that after nearly 10 years, they‘ve exhausted viable options to offer from Xbox 360 and original Xbox libraries. Removing the Xbox 360 giveaways, which have gradually declined since 2020, leaves only Xbox One and Series X/S titles.

While one might hope to now see Games with Gold regularly featuring next-gen games, Microsoft has announced no specific plans to this effect. This, combined with the still anemic number of games offered monthly, paints a concerning picture.

Disappointing Showing for October 2022

Indeed, the recently announced October 2022 Games with Gold lineup feels lackluster. Let‘s examine the two titles on offer and how they‘ve been received critically:

GameGenreMetacritic ScoreKey ProsKey Cons
WindboundSurvival72%Beautiful visuals, expansive craftingExtremely punishing survival mechanics, thin storyline
Bomber Crew Deluxe EditionManagement Simulation79%Attention to detail, tough challenge for veteransSteep learning curve, brutally unforgiving

Reviewers praised certain elements of both titles, like Windbound‘s soothing aesthetics and Bomber Crew‘s strategic demands. However, their overall critical reception felt quite muted. And assessing their typical bargain bin pricing on the Microsoft Store, their combined value claims seem highly inflated.

All indications suggest Games with Gold now offers less overall value and monthly variety than during its 2013-2018 heyday.

Contrasting Fortunes with Game Pass

At the same time, Microsoft‘s leading subscription service – Game Pass – continues expanding with hotly anticipated releases this October. Check out this killer lineup of spooky season titles:

GameKey DetailsRelease DateGenre
ScornGiger-inspired horror using next-gen console powerOctober 14Adventure, Horror
A Plague Tale: RequiemSequel to 2019‘s critically acclaimed stealth-action adventureOctober 18Adventure, Action
NorcoGripping pixel art thriller focused on loss and familyOctober 20Adventure, Horror

Scorn leads the pack as an anticipated gore-filled body horror pushing the graphic limits of Series X/S. But all three October games have reviewing very positively in early impressions.

Clearly, Game Pass heavily prioritizes both quality and variety across genres. This mirrors its meteoric expansion the past few years, reaching 25 million subscribers by January 2022 according to Microsoft‘s reporting.

Evaluating Games with Gold‘s Future

Given the stark contrast we‘ve uncovered in the fortunes and trajectories of Game Pass versus Games with Gold, it‘s reasonable to ask some tough questions.

  • As a budget-conscious gamer, can Games with Gold still satisfy my needs compared to Game Pass?

  • Does Microsoft still care about improving Games with Gold nearly 10 years in?

Based on the rather lackluster recent showings and shifts in strategy, Games with Gold seems unlikely to reach its former glory again. While still useful in a limited capacity for multiplayer access and catching the occasional gem, its declining relevance signals a concerning long-term fate.

Microsoft‘s actions indicate that enticing gamers into the Game Pass ecosystem is now the top priority. Savvy Xbox fans would do well to strongly consider whether Game Pass already provides better value today – and especially in the years ahead.

So there you have it! Please let me know if you have any other questions regarding navigating today‘s complex Xbox gaming landscape. I‘m always happy to offer insider expertise to help friends like yourself.

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