Now, it appears the tides are finally changing for Xbox Games with Gold, given subscribers were mostly satisfied with the free games Microsoft released for September and October 2021. The same can’t be said for Sony’s PS Plus, given the service appears to have broken its positive streak.
For the better part of 2021, the Xbox Games with Gold program disappointed many of its subscribers, mostly due to the lackluster games selected by Microsoft. Additionally, Xbox Live Gold subscribers were unhappy about Microsoft not including Xbox Series X/S games in its monthly roster – especially when Sony’s PS Plus has consistently offered PS5 titles.
It appears Microsoft is now paying attention to the criticisms that Xbox Games with Gold has been receiving over the last few months. While the company still hasn’t included next-gen titles in Games with Gold’s roster, the quality of what’s on offer has risen to the extent that many subscribers feel contented.
For this month, Microsoft announced it is releasing Halloween-appropriate games for Xbox Games with Gold, showing some forethought to the games it is releasing. October’s Xbox Games with Gold includes Resident Evil Code: Veronica and Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. Fans received them with open arms, not only because they are perfect games to play on Halloween but also because they are from iconic AAA franchises that still have a huge fanbase.
In September 2021, Xbox Games with Gold fans welcomed the release of two iconic games from the Xbox 360: Zone of the Enders HD Collection and Samurai Shodown 2. While these games may be old, many Xbox Live Gold subscribers were happy to receive them given both were popular franchises at the time, as opposed to the niche games released months prior.
While Xbox Games with Gold appears to have turned around its flailing reputation, it appears Sony is doing the opposite with the PS Plus. For the better part of 2021, PS Plus saw enormous growth in terms of subscribers, especially coming off the height of the pandemic. The major reason PS Plus always gets a positive reception is its focus on variety and quality with the likes of Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Control: Ultimate Edition.
However, this reception has started to dip with the release of August and September’s PS Plus games. While the titles offered were not lackluster in terms of quality, their appeal is not as widespread given most of them were considered niche games. For October, it is evident that PS Plus still isn’t able to shake off the negative criticisms, and subscribers were not happy with the selection of PS Plus games.
In a poll conducted on the PlayStationPlus subreddit, 1,197 out of 1,800 votes at the time of writing were spread over the choices “eh,” “dull,” and “bad,” with bad getting 868 votes alone. One major reason October’s PS Plus games received a bad reputation is that the PS5 title, Hell Let Loose, is a multiplayer-only game. The two PS4 games include Mortal Combat X, a pretty old game with more recent entries in its series; and PGA Tour 2K21, a niche sports title.
It is interesting to see how the tides have turned for Xbox Games with Gold and PS Plus. The popularity of gaming services usually fluctuates from time to time, but one significant factor contributing to the recent success of Games with Gold is that Microsoft was able to differentiate it from its more popular service, Xbox Game Pass. Based on the games both services receive, it is apparent that Xbox Games with Gold is the venue for players to revisit old, popular games for free. On the other hand, Xbox Game Pass is the service for those looking to play more recent titles, including those released for the Xbox Series X/S. Hopefully, Sony will be able to do the same for PS Plus since some of its subscribers are now starting to compare PS Plus games with those released on PS Now