Recently Microsoft joined Sony in giving away games for players who subscribe to the respective premium online services. Whilst these initiatives can be seen as a step in the right direction to reward players for their loyalty and opens up games that might not have been initially of interest or out of their financial reach there is also a down side for a large number of players. Those gamers are those hardcore gamers that buy machines at launch, subscribe to all premium services and pre-order the majority of games they want to play.
For these players, like myself, these incentives don’t offer much, if anything in terms of reward for being loyal to the brand. For example, I have multiple Windows PC’s, a Mac, have had 8 Xbox 360’s since launch (replacements from the early days, upgrades to Elite and 360S, switching to North American version and even switching to a Halo 4 Limited Edition console) including Gold Live account since the original Xbox UK launch as well as a PS3. I buy all my games via pre-order and digital and don’t trade in or rent games.
Microsoft has so far given away Fable III, Defense Grid The Awakening and now Assassin’s Creed II is available to Gold subscribers. All of which I bought and completed at launch and have long since moved on from.
Sony’s offering has had more variety with the most recent being Battlefield 3, Jet Set Radio and Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee HD on PlayStation 3. Again, all of them bought and completed at original launch.
So, is there anything in these initiatives for those of us who love our hobby and go out of our way to get the latest gaming machines and games without stopping buying games in the hope they might be free later? Probably not, the games that both Sony and Microsoft will offer up for free are those that have been out for a while and sales have started to slow and of course this makes sense to them, retailers and the games Publisher as none of them want to lose out on the income from a sale. The only way they could open this system to reward the more dedicated gamer is to offer a game that has just released and announce it will be available before it goes on sale, will this change our buying habits? Of course not, we’ll always want the latest gaming platforms and games, the lack of recognition with these kinds of incentives won’t stop that.