Games with Gold, a program that offers two free games a month to Xbox Live Gold subscribers, will become something "more true" to what consumers want from the program, according to Microsoft Game Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer.
Speaking during a Q&A session following his SXSW Gaming panel, Spencer responded to the feedback that the games distributed in the program are typically months or even years old — a stark contrast to Sony's PlayStation Plus program, which delivers a larger quantity of free titles on a monthly basis, many of which are fairly new releases.
The issue, according to Spencer, lies in the fact that the games distributed in the Games with Gold program will always be available to those who download them, even if their Gold subscription lapses.
"One of our issues with Games with Gold — not 'issues,' but differences between the other system we get compared to, is the fact that with Games with Gold, you get to keep that game, regardless of whether you continue to subscribe," Spencer said. "And the business around Games with Gold, for us, is just fundamentally different from some of the other programs that are out there, which does put a different financial picture on a — you're gonna go buy a game that's brand new, the cost of putting that in, just to be kind of blunt about it."
Though Spencer isn't in charge of the Games with Gold team, Microsoft Game Studios has weighed in on some of the first-party releases included in the program. Spencer said that he's been working with the team on a more regular basis following the program's launch.
"And the business around Games with Gold, for us, is just fundamentally different..."
"That said, I have been sitting down, monthly now, with that team — some of the earlier months were already programmed — 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," Spencer said.
"For us, in the long run, as an industry, giving away content like that is just ... I think there's some steps and some evolution of what Games with Gold or any of the other systems will go through to their full potential. You have things out there that are kind of bigger subscription services, where I get access to a lot of content. Games with Gold is kind of this step in the middle of, 'I get games, and how do I feel about those games.'"
Spencer did not comment on if and when the program will come to Xbox One, but tweeted last month that information on that will be coming "fairly soon."