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Talking Point: Has Games With Gold Turned You Onto a Game or Genre You Wouldn't Have Played Otherwise?

Posted by Dave Letcavage

Weighing in on the power of free games

Ever since Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition was added to Games With Gold on Xbox One a few weeks ago, we’ve been entertained by the countless number of praise-filled comments left throughout the internet by gamers enamored with their free download. Considering we awarded the game a 9 when we reviewed it, these glowing compliments haven’t been particularly shocking. What has been a bit surprising, however, is the amount of people admitting they wouldn’t have ever given Guacamelee! a chance if it wasn’t a no-cost acquisition. We came across many different reasons for this lack of interest, but “it looks like a port of a simple mobile game” and “I normally don’t like indies” were the most common explanations – keep in mind that we’re paraphrasing here.

But the point of this article isn’t to focus on why some wouldn’t spend their money on Guacamelee, no matter what the reason, it’s on the fact that they’ve now played a game they normally wouldn’t have and the majority seem to have loved it. Some shared that they were so impressed by the entire adventure that they’re now itching to explore what else the Metroidvania sub-genre has to offer. We even came across people saying they’re going to buy the game on another platform just to support the developer, DrinkBox Studios. The general attitude expressed in comment sections and social media posts has been one of excitement and appreciation for their “discovery.”

We think it’s awesome to see that Games With Gold is enlightening gamers and turning them onto new experiences outside of their comfort zones. Sure, there have been plenty of well-known mainstream retail games made available through the program thus far, but there have also been games like Dust: An Elysian Tail, Iron Brigade, and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, which are a part of more niche genres that don't generally receive the same level of exposure. It's great to imagine that the audience for these types of games could grow substantially thanks to Games With Gold, providing publishers with more incentive to green-light their development in the future.

So that leaves us wondering what kind of effect Games With Gold has had on you in the year since its inception. Did a particular game open your eyes to a series or genre that you normally wouldn't have given the time of day? What about your friends — have they warmed to something they would've ordinarily dismissed or trash-talked? As is the case with any Talking Point article, tell us all about your experiences in the comments section below and be sure to vote in the poll that precedes it. Lucky for you our staff has shared their feelings on Games With Gold to keep you entertained between here and there, so have yourself a read on your downward scrolling travels.

Dave Letcavage (@DRL)

I'm the kind of guy that will try just about any game or genre that's pulling in solid reviews or has a great word of mouth. With that said, there are still types of experiences that I tend to distance myself from. For one, even though the genre doesn't normally matter too much, I do typically avoid anything with the intention of delivering genuine scares. I do sometimes make exceptions — Resident Evil and Silent Hill, for example — but I mainly stay away. Because of Games With Gold, however, I did take a chance of Deadlight, which I normally would've ignored for a combination of reasons: the creepy setting, distaste for the current popularity of zombies, and the puzzle/survival element. Even though I wouldn't go as far as to say that I really like the game, I am enjoying elements of it quite a bit. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is another game worth mentioning. I'm not sure I should admit this considering I write for an Xbox site, but I'm not the biggest fan of Kinect integration in games. For that reason I was sorta content letting Max pass me by, even though I'm majorly attracted to the platforming and art style. But once again, Games With Gold has earned the charming little game a space on my Xbox One hard drive.

Anthony Bacchus (@Anthinator)

What a nice surprise Sleeping Dogs turned out to be for me when I grabbed it for free earlier this year thanks to Games With Gold. I already knew about the development difficulties the game went through and I assumed that it would be just another mediocre open-world GTA clone that I've played countless times before. Imagine how quickly I changed my tune when I first booted it up and was greeted to lead character, Wei Shen, and an intense opening chapter. I was caught off guard how much I became interested in his mission to infiltrate the local triad gangs while staying undercover. The Hong Kong setting was also a nice change of scenery and the combat — while taking cues from Batman: Arkham Asylum — was nicely implemented and surprisingly fun. In short, I'm glad I was able to experience Sleeping Dogs in full and I probably never would have if it weren't for Games With Gold. I would have gladly purchased the game full price for the amount of content I received. In fact, I ended up paying for each and every piece of downloadable content for Sleeping Dogs after I spent a single day with the game. No regrets, at all.

Wayne Davies (@WayneDavies89)

Though my use of Games With Gold has been limited — I own most of the games already — my experience with the service has been great, and it has led me to realize how useful it could potentially be. After seeing Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag during E3 last year, I was interested in going back to play a previous game in the series, and not long after that, Assassin's Creed II appeared on Games With Gold for Xbox 360. The same thing happened this year when the Halo 5: Guardians E3 trailer reinvigorated my interest in the Halo franchise, then low and behold, Halo: Spartan Assault was offered free to Gold subscribers. I can see Games With Gold continuing the trend of featuring a previous entry in a series around the time the next installment is announced or released. It allows some to go back and refresh themselves and it also helps to bring newcomers on board, all the while increasing public awareness in general.

Eric Santana (@EricDS)

Games With Gold has been a great initiative from the Xbox brand. The idea of a being able to download a couple free games each month is something that could excite anyone, but has been really great for me, personally. Because I wasn't an early adopter of the Xbox 360 — I bought my console when Halo 4 launched — I missed out on some of the classics. Being able to play Fable III and the first Gears of War free of charge was something really wonderful. I've even converted some friends into FromSoftware fans with Dark Souls being an available download a few weeks backs. All in all, I can't wait to see what other games are made available on the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One in the future. Allowing gamers to try out games they usually wouldn't buy makes new fans and has the potential to expand the genres they play. I'm all for that.

Emma H. Pira (@PeTitosaurus)

Call me picky, but I think I belong to the percentage of players who haven't necessarily picked up any new series or genres from the Games with Gold. Usually when a game I'm interested in it's a case of "been there, done that, got the t-shirt" type of situation and I've already played it or I already own it and the rest don't intrigue me enough to go download. I know several friends who are fans of Games with Gold and have had a lot gained from it, counting new gaming experiences. But I think it's a feature I'm not too invested in yet. And I'm saying "yet" because I've been meaning to download and play more, I've just been drowning in games from my lists of "will play", "could play" and "should probably play" categorised games.

Now it's your turn, Gold subscribers. Vote in our poll and drop down a little further to follow it up with your Games With Gold stories.

Games With Gold has... (15 votes)

...led me to play games I normally wouldn't have.


...turned me onto a new genre(s).


...introduced me to both new games and new genres.


...hasn't done much for me yet.


Please login to vote in this poll.

User Comments (11)



JD_John said:

Obviously it's too early in the Xbox One's life cycle to expect AAA games included in the GWG program, but similarly to PS+ for PS4, the indies and smaller titles included with the two programs have allowed me to play some good games that I likely would not have dropped $10-$20 on. I haven't finished any of these titles yet but at least I got some hours of enjoyment out of them and it helps fill the void in between other larger releases. I probably won't bother with these titles during the fall, but there's nothing to lose if I download them for a later time. Who's going to say no to "free" games?



SethPuddle said:

Games with gold turned me on to the magic the gathering games. i'm obsessed now.



JaxonH said:

I don't do the whole subscription thing, but I'm always looking for new types of games to try. In fact, I just bought a game called Siesta Fiesta on 3DS (just released) and it was AMAZING! Like, scrolling levels of modern age Alleyway brick blocker gameplay, just FANTASTIC! Also bought a game called Armillo on Wii U that blew my socks off.

I'm currently on the lookout for some good Xbox digital exclusives that are, ya know, "gotta play must have" examples of gaming goodness on MS consoles, but haven't found any quite yet. That Peggle 2 kind of interested me, until I watched reviews pointing out the microtransactions and limited content compared to the first. Was also gonna get Halo Spartan Assault, til the review said you could only aim in 8 directions...(why?). There's a platformer called Max something on Xbox Live, anyone know if that's any good?



BadWolf09 said:

@JD_John I would have to agree. I am not going to pass on a free game, worst case, I delete the game and no harm done.
I've tried Halo Spartan Ops and Deadlight, had fun with both and likely wouldn't have paid for either.



JaxonH said:


Oh, right on. Thanks man. I'ma go read that review right now in fact.

And yeah I know, it's just that, well, with two consoles at $50/yr each, that's $100/yr, which is almost a thousand bucks throughout the course of the generation. And I almost never play online (Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Mario Kart 8, that's about it), so it's really hard to justify the sub fees. And I buy everything I like, even if I got it free I'd still buy it so I know I'd have when the subscription expired. So yeah... I did actually buy a year of PS+ on sale for $39.99, but I never used it. It's still sitting in my dresser droor Guess I've been waiting for a reason to need to use it, and that reason has never come.



EternalDragonX said:

I wouldn't have played Max and honestly had a really hard time forcing myself to finish it.
I quit playing Halo Spartan Assault too punitive.
I would've bought Guacamellee.
So far I say



hYdeks said:

It has helped me to play games I wouldn't have originally bothered with to try, and the biggest one I can think of so far is Guacamelee! on Xbox One. I'm really happy it was free and I gave it a shot, because it has quickly become my favourite game so far this year!



EricDS said:

@BadWolf09 I like the lack of risk with Games for Gold. Even if the game isn't the best experience the only thing that can be lost is a bit of time. When you don't have to put out any money I think you also have a better chance to enjoy the game. You don't get angry at the money you might have wasted on a title outside of your comfort zone.



thecavalier41 said:

I almost definitely would have missed Guacamelee had it not been free. Turns out that I love the game and it has quickly become a favorite of mine.

However, the game selection continues to underwhelm me. Looking at what PS users get on a monthly basis, I can't help but feel a bit bitter.



Cavalier41 said:

With the exception of Guacamelee, the program hasn't done a lot for me. I tend to download the games simply because they are free. Sometimes, I play them, other times they just sit. /shrug

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