In an attempt to draw in more gamers while finally unveiling its free games program for Gold members, Games with Gold, Microsoft has announced some big changes to Xbox Live Gold memberships. No longer will you need a gold membership in order to use its entertainment apps such as Netflix, HBO Go, or Hulu Plus, and if you cancel your gold membership now you can get a refund for the remaining days of your subscription. You’ll still need a gold membership for multiplayer games and there’s currently still no change for those planning on purchasing MMOs like Elder Scrolls Online. But the incentives for a gold membership have drastically improved with the Games with Gold and Deals with Gold programs as the former gives gold members a free game every month and the latter gives discounts to relatively new games. Games with Gold has been available for Xbox 360 owners for some time but will now be available for Xbox One owners starting in June, and each month there will be a free AAA title and free XBLA title. And the first 2 games announced for Xbox One owners are Halo: Spartan Assault and Max: Curse of the Brotherhood, and both have been released in the past 6 months. And if you’ve held out on purchasing Forza Motorsport 5 and Ryse: Son of Rome then you might want to give them another look starting in June as they’ll be the first Xbox One games going on sale as part of the new Deals with Gold program along with some games that haven’t been named yet.
I’m curious about the new virtual VIP room for Xbox One gold members, which will offer additional free games and monthly discounts, and if this will be significant in terms of the additional benefits. Microsoft has already shown by offering Xbox One without the kinect that it has listened to feedback and is also willing to reverse policy in order to lessen the gap with the PS4. So I believe this could help with that while also allowing those who purchased an Xbox One prior to all the deals and changes to enjoy some additional benefits too.