Microsoft has been shamed. It's the only way to describe the way Sony put the company in its place with PlayStation Plus. It even drove Microsoft to institute Games with Gold in 2013, in an attempt to make Xbox Live Gold's yearly fees more palatable. Gradually, Games with Gold has been improving, with the outreach even extending to the Xbox One in 2014. Sadly, it's still falling short when it comes to catering to Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners, and Microsoft has to put in more effort.
To start, Xbox Live Gold's pricing is still a major issue. A year of PlayStation Plus is $49.99, and has a record of dropping to unheard of prices like $29.99 around Black Friday. Meanwhile, Xbox Live Gold holds steady at $59.99, only occasionally dropping to $39.99. If Microsoft wants to be competitive, it needs to price-match PlayStation Plus, especially since Sony's service offers far more games.
The game offerings are another major reason why Games with Gold still can't compete with PlayStation Plus. Microsoft has made serious strides with Xbox Live Gold. The fact that Games with Gold is now even a thing proves that. The problem lies in the kinds of games offered with Microsoft's subscription service. To be frank, they're lacking.
On the Xbox 360 side, we have titles that just aren't cutting it due to age, quality, or other factors. What good is getting a game that is given to you, to own forever, if it isn't worth it? Gotham City Imposters, one of the July 2014 Games with Gold titles, is one I especially take issue with for two reasons. It's two years old and, for almost every other platform, it was already free-to-play. Dishonored, one of the free games for August 2014, is good, but also two years old. At this point, everyone who wanted to play it picked it up when it hit $20. The list of Xbox 360 Games with Gold "gifts" is a collection of titles that are long past their prime. Thanks for giving us Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, too bad everyone's playing Ultra Street Fighter IV now.
Though, it's the Xbox One side of Games with Gold that will probably need the most work. The fact that it mirrors PlayStation Plus, in only allowing players to access the free games when they subscribe, is a serious flaw. The benevolence of actually giving subscribers games was Games with Gold's hallmark and chief selling point. Following Sony's lead takes away the one thing that made Games with Gold unique. So instead, all the Xbox One section of Games with Gold becomes known for is delivering subpar games. In the three months freebies have been provided for this system, Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition has been the only winning title. The others are decent at best, and Crimson Dragon at worst.
Microsoft has a chance to really make the Xbox One and Xbox Live Gold shine. If they provide better quality games and drop the price of the service, it could easily overtake PlayStation Plus. The opportunity is there, and it would be a shame if Microsoft didn't take this chance to put Games with Gold on top.