Microsoft's Games with Gold finally offering some decent games for the Xbox One

Microsoft may be throwing free stuff at you left and right, but there's a reason: The console wars are brutal.

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It’s like a scene out of Mad Max: Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 thunder down the track, with their drivers whaling on each other. Exclusives fly left and right. Backward compatibility. Gift cards. Subscription services. And now, Microsoft’s offering not one, but two new Xbox One games per month as part of its Xbox Live Gold Games with Gold package.

“As a special thank you to our members and all Xbox fans, we’re announcing that starting in July, Gold members get more with two new Games with Gold every month on Xbox One!” Will Tuttle, Xbox editor in chief wrote in a blog post.  

The word “new” is the key here; Microsoft has typically recycled games across several months of Games with Gold, and has avoided retail releases. As the console ages, however, Microsoft can begin to crack open the vault of older, quality Xbox One games.

So, for $60 per year, Xbox Live Gold owners now can receive two free Xbox One games per month, and two free Xbox 360 games per month. That’s 48 free games per year, if the pace continues. Microsoft’s games for the month of July include critically acclaimed open-world exploration games Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and platformer So Many Me, while 360 owners will receive Gears of War 3 and Plants vs. Zombies.

If that sounds like Microsoft’s going overboard, it’s for a good reason: The consoles wars are brutal. According to NPD, Microsoft topped Sony for the month of April in terms of U.S. console sales, but Sony struck back in May. In Japan, Microsoft sold just 201 Xbox Ones in a week where Sony sold over 13,000 PS4s, according to Media Create. 

And that’s not all the deals Microsoft is is offering. For the price of $349—a price cut Microsoft recently made permanent—the company is now offering bundles that include a special Halo: The Master Chief colllection bundle, which includes the Halo collection, your choice of another free games, plus a $50 gift card—good for another free game, essentially. That’s a lot of freebies Microsoft is throwing your way.

Why this matters: What will be interesting is how Microsoft handles Games with Gold going forward. Up until now, if you owned an Xbox One but not a Xbox 360, you could tune out the Xbox 360 deals. But with backward-compatibility coming down the pike, will Microsoft make Xbox 360 games offered via Games with Gold backwards-compatible? Will they continue to offer four games, two for each platform, possibly giving One owners four games per month for free? The possibilities are definitely intriguing. 

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