Xbox's Games with Gold continues to be terrible in December 2022

Xbox Games with Golde December 2022.
(Image credit: Xbox)

What you need to know

  • Xbox Games with Gold is a part of Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, giving subscribers free games every month.
  • For years, now, the service has been heavily criticized by the community for its lackluster offerings.
  • Xbox has just revealed the lineup for December 2022, and Xbox gamers are expressing their disappointment.
  • With just Colt Canyon and Bladed Fury, Xbox Games with Gold continues to be Microsoft's least-loved service.

Xbox recently made the decision to remove backward compatible games from Xbox Games with Gold — the service that provides Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers with free games every month — and reduced the number of monthly titles from four to two, further reducing the value of this much-maligned Xbox service. The gaming brand has just announced the Xbox Games with Gold for December, and it's continuing to elicit negative responses and feedback from the community.

Xbox Games with Gold for December 2022 (opens in new tab) includes Colt Canyon from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31, 2022, and Bladed Fury from Dec. 16, 2022 to Jan. 15, 2023. The two games offer $34.98 and 2,000 Gamerscore in value, although they do little to improve the value prospect of the Games with Gold service as a whole. While Colt Canyon does seem to be a nice 2D pixel art western shoot-em-up, it fails to reverse public opinion on the service, and Bladed Fury seems to be eliciting even fewer positive reactions.

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Every month, Xbox Games with Gold earns the ire of Xbox gamers with its lackluster offerings, further accentuated by Xbox's lack of response to feedback or criticism. Notable community and industry figures like Klobrille and Colteastwood have joined in the mostly one-sided discussion, building on months of perpetual frustration and disappointment in what was once a gem at the center of Xbox's services.

It's not necessarily a surprise to see Xbox Games with Gold sit abandoned on the cold, lifeless backburner when you see the constant attention and investment that Xbox Game Pass receives. With hundreds of the most amazing Xbox games and more added every month, Xbox Game Pass is commonly pointed to as the greatest value in the gaming industry. Microsoft is trapped between taking value away from Xbox Live Gold (included in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate) by shuttering its Games with Gold perk, or potentially harming Xbox Game Pass by pouring more resources into its archaic predecessor.

Xbox, Xbox PC Game Pass at Gamescom 2022

(Image credit: Jez Corden | Windows Central)

When PlayStation Plus continues to offer relevant titles, critically-acclaimed indie games, and even AAA hits month after month, however, it's obvious that something needs to change for Xbox Games with Gold. Many have called for Microsoft to do away with Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Games with Gold entirely, building on Microsoft's move to remove the Xbox Live Gold requirement to play free-to-play multiplayer games. Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen as long as Xbox Live Gold continues to be a sizeable chunk of Xbox's income (or until the majority of Xbox Live Gold subscribers are on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate).

Some have suggested that Microsoft pivot Games with Gold to instead highlight select Xbox Game Pass titles every month, allowing Xbox Live Gold subscribers to sample the service, and hopefully convincing them to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This solution would take value away from existing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, however, with no real gain for those already invested in Microsoft's flagship service.

Others say Microsoft should simply improve the quality of games in the service, although it's undoubtedly difficult for Microsoft to convince developers to give their games away for free when Xbox Game Pass continues to be such a tantalizing proposition for them.

It's obvious that something needs to give for Xbox Games with Gold, as it continues to be one of the largest black spots on Xbox's rapidly improving reputation in the industry. The service is locked in the past, overshadowed by competitors and Microsoft's own Xbox Game Pass service, and is a constant reminder that Xbox Live Gold is an unnecessary paywall to play online and is a service that has long lost its shine.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

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.