During this year's E3, Microsoft revealed a new feature called Games with Gold. This new "bonus" gives Xbox Live Gold Member two free games every month. Sounds amazing right? Free games are always a good thing. I was actually excited when the news broke, until I experience an issue this July that doesn't quite make any sense. Giving away region-locked titles on the Games with Gold promo?
For the second half of July, Gold Members gets a copy of Assassin's Creed 2 for free. From July 16 - July 31, Gold Members are given the chance to get a copy of the game into their account. On July 17, I tried getting my free account on Assassin's Creed 2, but was welcomed with this.
It boggles my mind to experience digital products to be region-locked for a specific country, but that's old news and I should have known better. Legally, they are protected since if you dig deep enough, you will get the info that Games with Gold offer is only available in specific countries. But they are quite inconsistent since I was able to pick up Fable 3(June's free game for the month), and Defense Grid(Free game for the first half of July) with no problems. So what gives?
Games with Gold free games offer available 6/10/13-12/31/13 for qualifying paid Gold members only. Xbox 360 games (selected by Xbox) available for free download from Marketplace only during specified half-month window; available games may vary by country
The Big Problem
Not getting Assassin's Creed 2 for free is fine, I can live with that. The problem is they might actually get Xbox users considering this as an incentive to get gold. Just the thought that someone might go for the Gold service for the free games but to be greeted with region-lock issues bothers me. I'm sure there are instances already were people got gold status just to get Assassin's Creed 2, or whatever game offered during that month, and finds out they can't get a copy because the offer is not available in their region. The US is free and clear of course, but Microsoft again just doesn't do the extra effort to make it clear for consumers from other countries. All we get is this small text below giving the information.
This only strengthens the idea that Microsoft only focuses on specific regions. With region-locked present in Games with Gold, specific consumers get more based on where they live really. This has always been a problem even in Sony, and it's disappointing to experience first-hand that you are not given the same amount because of location. "Get two free games a month with Xbox Live Gold", right.
A friendly reminder
Xbox Live is still a good service, but if you live outside the US, do the research first. See if the games offered in Games with Gold will work for your region. Don't get swayed by the big text saying you get free games with Gold Membership. Also, be reminded that Games with Gold is only planned until the end of this year. It's not actually an added feature with Gold...just a promo. What happens with Games with Gold in 2014 is still unknown. So for the people considering a year subscription because of the monthly games, I suggest you rethink a bit as well.