Two recent pieces by Polygon has compared the free games handed out to happy players through Games with Gold and with PS Plus, on Sony and Microsoft’s various consoles, respectively. They have a fairly complicated way of measuring the value of the games against their metacritic score to come to an overall conclusion. The finding of the two separate pieces seems to suggest that Microsoft have offered the best value with their free games throughout 2015, with over $900 dollars’ worth of free goodies, with many of them being the cream of the crop. Even if said crop was several years old. It’s great to get free Triple A titles, but it’s taken a while for anything truly good interesting from this generation to arrive.
My whining is kind of the point of this piece. Suddenly, we get games for free every month with a service that for the most part - at least in the case of Xbox Live - we were happy to just pay for before to access online play. Now with backwards compatible games on the Xbox as well, we practically get 4 free games a month. These games are free as long as we’re paying for Xbox Live, which we need to pay for to play online. These games being free cause us no harm or no foul, unless you’ve already bought them, of course.
So why does it make us all so angry? Of all the people I know, I’m one of the worst for eagerly awaiting their free games. When it comes towards the end of each month, I start watching games websites for the latest news on what the free Games With Gold are going to be free this month. I end up reading endless amounts of keyword laden click bait nonsense posts that don’t actually provide any new information. Then when the games are announced I send the news to all my gamer friends, who generally respond to the news with a shrug, or perhaps even worse, they get a little bit pissed off.
“That’s a crap game,” they tell me, and sometimes, I agree. Even when they’re free, I still get annoyed. If I wanted free shit, I’d put on my nice new shoes and go walk through the local dog park. I want good free games. Why would I play terrible games? My time is valuable, and these games are not. When did we all become so cynical? It’s no longer enough to get a free game. Nay, it’s no longer enough to get four free games a month. Occasionally we get a good game, and when we do, our reaction often isn’t any better. Like when we got Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag for free on Xbox One, or when we got Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for free. Or how about the upcoming free copy of Thief on Xbox One?
Gamers often lament that none of these free titles are “Triple A”, there’s three right there. Maybe Thief reviewed pretty badly, but Black Flag and Tomb Raider are stellar. But there’s a remake of a reboot, and a sequel to a sequel of a sequel. You can find a reason to complain anywhere. It’s not the games, it just might be you.
I try to feel grateful for every free game I get. It’s a new opportunity to check out something that I might never have bought before. While my free time is increasingly shorter and shorter, I still find myself jumping out of the likes of Fallout 4 or Halo 5 to check out the latest free games. Often, they’re not that great, but for true fans of the medium, you should play every single game you can get your hands on. Across every genre, across all the Metacritic scores.
In the same way that people watch bad movies for pleasure, and people can enjoy a bad book as much as a good one, we should play bad games and good games in equal measure. If they’re free, isn’t that even better? Let’s try and count our blessings. If someone bought you a free pizza, would you immediately complain to them that the pizza was greasy, or cold? Maybe you would, but if you do, then you’re a horrible person and you don’t deserve pizza at all. Be happy for your free games, they’re only going to get better. Life is good, games are good, free is good. Let’s all hold hands.