PlayStation Plus and Games with Gold Have Hit a Lull

Though complaining about free stuff is the epitome of a “first world problem,” PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold users should feel somewhat disappointed over July’s $0 current-gen offerings. Sure, each service is receiving some high-quality titles, but there are some slightly troubling caveats that come with them. We are obviously in “the calm before the storm,” so to speak, as both the PlayStation 4’s Instant Game Collection and the Xbox One’s Games with Gold suggest that we have hit the quietest point of this console generation’s free game offerings.


While both of July’s free PlayStation 4 titles earned widespread critical acclaim, they feel like they offer less value overall. Towerfall: Ascension is best as a local multiplayer experience, with its single-player campaign being arguably its weakest aspect. To get the most out of this title, you need three friends in the same room who actually want to play it and three extra DualShock 4s, which will run you $180. That’s a significant monetary and organizational investment. This is not to say Towerfall: Ascension isn’t a great game, but it ends up being a lot more costly than other games which could have taken its place (such as Knack, Trials Fusion, Fez, or an entirely new downloadable title).


Though Strider is one of the PlayStation 4’s ten best games, it was released during a release drought. Not everyone has experienced this wonderful Metroidvania throwback, but dedicated PlayStation 4 owners played through it simply because nothing else was really available. If you were looking to purchase a brand new PlayStation 4 game in February, your choices basically came down to Strider and Thief. In fact, according to Sony’s very own PlayStation Blog, Strider was the most downloaded PSN game this February. There will be quite a few users who experience the game for the first time this July, but for early adopters this is just shy of a slap in the face.


The Xbox One’s free offerings are as mixed a bag as one could imagine. On one hand, Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is the best free title on either service, making this perhaps the only month in the history of Games with Gold where it’s had a stronger headliner than PS+. The new edition of the Mexican-themed Metroidvania beat-’em-up, which we adored, introduces a number of new features, including new abilities and stages. Of course, Microsoft decided to shoot itself in the foot by rolling over one of June’s Games with Gold into July.


Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, will once again be offered as a free download to Xbox Live Gold subscribers. That’s right, if you forget to download this game over the past 20-plus days, you still have a chance to get it! Mere months after Microsoft proclaimed its commitment to bolstering Games with Gold, they’ve taken two steps forward and three back.

Back in March, Phil Spencer was quoted as saying, “I have been sitting down, monthly now, with [the Games with Gold team]…and playing a more active role in picking franchises that show up in Games with Gold, and I think you’ll see at least something that feels, at least, more true to what I think Games with Gold should look like with the constraints that are there.” While we initially focused on the fact that Microsoft appeared to be improving their lackluster offerings, we should have taken a look at Spencer’s mid-sentence backpedaling. In hindsight, perhaps mentioning “at least” twice was some sort of Freudian slip, as the rehashing of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood seems to literally be the absolute least Microsoft can do. Don’t insult our intelligence by pretending like you’re giving us two new games for free, when in reality we’re only getting one.

PS4 vs Xbox One composite

Again, I realize that complaining about free games is somewhat nonsensical. I should be happy that I’m getting anything for free rather than nitpicking Sony and Microsoft’s current-gen selections under a thin veil of disappointment. I’m still getting four games for free on PlayStation 3 and Vita, these monthly announcements should always make me do a dance of joy. Unfortunately, I can only look at the PlayStation 4’s Instant Game Collection and Xbox One’s Games with Gold offerings this month and sigh. Let’s hope this is a minor blip on the radar and not the start of an ugly trend.


  • trfe

    Xbox games with gold beat out ps+ This month too. Dark souls. Charlie murder. Street fighter. Halo spartan assault. Max curse of brotherhood.

    • Matt Whittaker

      I can see what you’re saying, but I personally disagree. Terraria, Pixeljunk Shooter and Trine 2 are stronger titles (except Dark Souls)

      • trfe

        Wasn’t terreria for vita? Hard to compare handheld to handheld when MS doesn’t have one. I was sticking to console games.

        • PSIN4MANT

          Dark souls was available last year, and so was street fighter… just sayin.

    • Coody

      Dark Souls, Guacamelee and Street Fighter have ALL been included in PS+ going back as far as 18month – 2 year ago.
      Get with the times mate.

  • Guest

    Phil Spencer was right, it’s unsustainable. You can’t continuously give $1000+ value for $60. Developers that opt into this program are actually crazy or desperate for attention. They get much less money, but do receive some publicity for their software in return.
    Sony started this “rental/premium sub” devaluing of the gaming industry and now one has to ask the question. Which company has the most money to sustain this practice longer?
    Anyway, they have their consumers by the b*lls with this form as they don’t own any rights to their content anymore. If they were to hike the price to even out the value (look at the PSNow prices) for developers/publishers, then we’d all be stuck paying more to be able to play games we might not even play in the first place. Welcome to the world where we don’t own anything anymore. Thanks Sony!

    • DiFiasco

      sure – cause it’s Sony’s fault lol

  • AVJ

    The heat is on. This is great!

  • Dangerousjo 1985

    How are ppl bitching about free games in the first place?,ppl act as if everyone has played every single older game,games with gold has allowed me to play tons of great older games that I never had a chance to play,or wasn’t interested in at that time..

  • JD

    If you really thought there would be good games being offered this early in the consoles life, you had unrealistic expectations. Developers aren’t just going to agree to let their games be wildly devalued if they still have potential to sell copies. The games out for the new generation of consoles are too new and still have too much potential to sell on their own.

    In other words, we are going to have small indie titles and games that have already come out for last gen for a while until the launch titles naturally devalue to a low enough point that the developer is willing to give it away. Try to come to terms with it, don’t buy up every game out right now, and just wait patiently until they become free.

    • Matt Whittaker

      There’s been fantastic games offered for free. Resogun is one of the best 2 or 3 games on the PS4, Oulast is outstanding, Stick it to The Man! is a very good adventure game, Mercenary Kings is solid, and Trine 2 and Pixeljunk Shooter are great as well.

      If you’ve read my work before, you’ll know that I enjoy a great deal of independent games as much as, if not more, than AAA blockbusters. The idea that indie = bad couldn’t be farther from the truth.

      My point is simply: releasing the most purchased February PSN game and a game that requires multiple people and multiple controllers in one room to fully enjoy is a low-point for the PS4’s PSPlus offerings, plain and simple.

  • DiFiasco

    sorry – ‘free gaming’? There is no charge, monthly or otherwise, for ‘free gaming’.

  • So…. people bought Strider early, and that makes this new offer bad? Because it’s a “slap in the face”? Ugh. That’s some nice logic, there, mate.

  • LoneWolf

    Yes, because Sony is going to give away one of it’s PS4 Launch Titles as a Free PS+ Title when the console is under 12 Months Old. Maybe It November as a 1 Year Birthday thing, but now? Pfftttt.

  • Chaz Bart

    Not free 5 bucks a month give or take a penny.

  • Chaz Bart

    I think the games are cool I still think we could get better games even though I still haven’t played all the way through a lot of them. Here is a cool idea go outside take your breath and camp it’s summer.

  • Coody

    These articles and constant b!tching about PS4s PS+ offerings do nothing but annoy me to the point of anger. PS4 is the FIRST console to launch with PS+ from day one! Of COURSE its going to take time to start seeing the same standard of content as the PS3 (that only got PS+ approx 3 YEARS after launch) and Vita (that was included in PS+ over 12 months after its launch)

    The article doesn’t mention that OR the fact we got Guacamelee in PS+ for PS3 AND Vita at least 18 months ago.

    I knew as soon as I heard PS4 would launch with PS+ that it would take at least 1-2 years for the quality of games to be on par with the other PS systems. PS+ is leaps and bounds better than Xboxs equivalent as its games aren’t only of a better and newer standard, but for no extra cost it spreads across all 3 of Sonys systems.