What you need to know
- Xbox Games with Gold has lived a tumultuous life, providing a wide assortment of free modern and classic Xbox games to subscribers for years.
- Now, the service is finally coming to an end, thanks to Xbox Live Gold being replaced by Xbox Game Pass Core.
- Xbox has revealed the final two games being offered through Games with Gold with Blue Fire and Inertial Drift.
- While both decent games, the Xbox community has been expressing disappointment in how the service is being brought to a close.
Ah, Xbox Games with Gold. A perk offered through Microsoft's online multiplayer subscription, Xbox Live Gold, Games with Gold has been providing free modern and classic Xbox games to players for years. For a long while, though, the service has been besotted with widespread complaints about the quality and quantity of offered games, with many claiming the service was better off sunsetted in favor of the more exciting Xbox Game Pass.
Well, it's finally happening. Xbox Live Gold is being replaced by the basic Xbox Game Pass Core tier on Sept. 14, 2023, and Xbox Games with Gold is shutting its doors forever on Sept. 1. On Thursday, Microsoft announced the final two Xbox games being offered through Games with Gold throughout the month of August. Here they are, with a combined value of $39.99 and 2,000 Gamerscore.
Both Blue Fire and Inertial Drift are decent, well-liked games according to player reviews. The former is a Zelda-like 3D platformer and the latter a twin-stick arcade drifting game. While these are both solid games and will likely make plenty of players happy, the Xbox community has still reacted to the announced games with a good degree of ire, criticizing Xbox for closing out Games with Gold "not with a bang, but with a whisper."
Xbox Games with Gold has earned these complaints for years, especially when it's compared to Sony's PlayStation Plus catalog and its regular addition of high-quality, high-profile free game additions. It's undeniable that Xbox Live Gold and its Games with Gold perk has taken a backseat to the more exciting, better-value Xbox Game Pass service and its rotating roster of hundreds of great titles. Still, it would've been nice to see Microsoft usurp expectations for one final hoorah for Games with Gold, like a full set of four titles featuring a good mix of indie, older AAA, and even first-party Xbox games.
Either way, Xbox Games with Gold is coming to an end. On Sept. 14, Xbox Game Pass Core will take its place, and will include a curated collection of over 25 Xbox games (with more added over time) in addition to online multiplayer on Xbox consoles. For those who need the best overall value and features, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes online multiplayer, Xbox and PC Game Pass for access to many of the best Xbox games, Xbox Cloud Gaming, and exclusive perks every single month.
Windows Central's take
The closure of Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Games with Gold feels like the end of an era. I've redeemed a lot of excellent titles from the Games with Gold service over the years, and there are still games currently installed on my Xbox that I intend to play in the future. It's sad to see it go, but I recognize the inevitability of the change in light of the success and achievements of Xbox Game Pass.
Still, I can't help but feel like Microsoft has suddenly reduced the value of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which included all Games with Gold releases, just as the service is hit with a marginal price increase. It would've been nice for something to replace Games with Gold on Microsoft's highest-end subscription service, since the entire Xbox Game Pass Core library is already a part of the wider Xbox Game Pass catalog.
It also would've been fun for Microsoft to truly end Games with Gold with a bang, rather than a somber continuation of what we've been seeing from the service for a long time. At least the final titles seem to be good, fun indie games for those interested, but Xbox Games with Gold is dying as it lived — quietly.
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Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.