For many years now, Xbox Games with Gold has been a popular perk for Xbox Live Gold subscribers, giving them access to a monthly roster of free games. For a long time, subscribers looked forward to the games it offers, especially since Microsoft made an effort to select which titles would attract a wider audience.
However, it is no secret that in 2021, Xbox Games with Gold struggled to please its loyal subscribers. While there have been months of Games with Gold that received a positive reception, most games offered throughout the year were niche games that were barely familiar to most players. Despite this setback, Xbox Live Gold still has a decent amount of subscribers, and many hoped that Xbox Games with Gold would end 2021 on a high note, but unfortunately, the program failed to do so.
The State of Xbox Games with Gold in 2021
At the start of 2021, Xbox Games with Gold was already suffering a bad reputation from Xbox players due to its lackluster roster of free games. However, Microsoft compensated for that by supplementing subscribers with popular AAA games in January and February with the likes of Dead Rising, Little Nightmares, Gears 5, and Resident Evil.
Unfortunately, the months that followed only strengthened the argument that Microsoft no longer cares about Xbox Games with Gold as it once did. A big part of that neglect on Microsoft’s end is due to the company focusing much of its efforts on Xbox Game Pass, which sees the release of day-one AAA titles, alongside a much stronger library of games. However, succeeding months in 2021 also highlighted Xbox Games With Gold’s strength, which is the venue for players to rediscover old yet popular games.
In September and October, Xbox Games with Gold saw the inclusion of popular titles such as Zone of the Enders HD Collection and Samurai Shodown, followed by Halloween-appropriate games such as Resident Evil Code Veronica X and Castlevania: Harmony of Despair. Unfortunately, when December’s roster of free games was announced, fans were once again disappointed, which is a shame given that Microsoft had every opportunity to end 2021 with one final stellar lineup of free games.
Microsoft Could Have Ended 2021 With a Better Games with Gold Lineup
One of the biggest complaints subscribers have over Xbox Games with Gold is the lack of support for Xbox Series X/S titles. It is worth noting that ever since its release in November last year, the PS Plus service has been able to offer at least one PS5 game in its lineup, leaving Xbox Live Gold subscribers at a disadvantage. Of course, given that the Xbox Series X/S’s library is still growing, it makes sense that Microsoft is keeping those games away from Games with Gold, but now that the console is a year old, that excuse no longer understandable, especially since PS Plus is able to do it from the beginning.
Another significant change that Microsoft could have implemented in Xbox Games with Gold is the removal of Xbox 360 in place of even more Xbox One games. While it has been argued that one of Xbox Games with Gold’s strengths is to be a venue for players to rediscover classic titles, Microsoft should see that Xbox One games are now considered as “the new old,” especially since more and more players are transitioning to the Xbox Series X/S.
In the end, December’s lineup of Xbox Games with Gold proves that Microsoft seemingly no longer prioritizes the program in the future of Xbox gaming. For months now, the company has been promoting Xbox Game Pass as the future, which shows that maybe 2022 is the perfect time to either retire Xbox Games with Gold or merge its features to Xbox Game Pass, without having players pay extra.
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About The Author
Ramon Hara (1401 Articles Published)
Ramon is a writer for GameRant and an avid gamer since the era of the original PlayStation. Ramon has been captivated with video games and the way it serves as an escape from real life. His love for gaming transcends genres as he enjoys playing Stardew Valley as much as Resident Evil. When not attached to a controller, you can find him hammering away at a keyboard in hopes of sharing his voice with the gaming community. Ramon also likes to live his best life by watching funny videos on YouTube. You can follow him on Twitter @ramonhara.