Every time we post something about PlayStation Plus, someone reminds us that Sony are comprehensively schooling Microsoft in terms of freebies and giveaways. The upcoming update sees BioShock Infinite, Outlast and Metro: Last light join the Instant Game Collection, while Xbox Live Gold members can download... erm... Lara Croft and the Guardians Of Light. Now that both services are required for online multiplayer, we can directly compare them, and many players find Microsoft's offerings sadly wanting.
However, apparently Microsoft are planning on upping their game over the first half of 2014, and fancy their chances.
Microsoft Studios' Phil Spencer fielded a loaded question on twitter, as an irate gamer asked "can microsoft give us GOOD free games. look at what playstation plus is getting. can we get something like that?"
"Met with the team, feel good about first half of '14 (that's as far as we talked about)," came the response, before Spencer admitted that "Brothers is a good PSN+ give."
That's promising, since it's clear that Xbox Gold Members are demanding more from their money - and rightfully so. Though PlayStation Plus' freebies are more akin to rentals than actual goodies, with access denied if your subscription lapses, it still pays for itself. Plus, these days, how many of us actually play through a game more than once or twice? Now that PS Plus and XBL Gold are effectively competing on the same playing field, as opposed to a premium extra vs a mandatory online service, the disparity is attracting a fair bit of criticism.
In fairness, Microsoft have certainly beefed up their Gold Member discounts over the last few months, currently offering insane savings on Dark Souls and Tales Of Vesperia, while also providing an enjoyable (if gruelling) fitness suite and superb Kinect-optimised version of Skype on Xbox One. Oh, and some stuff we can't have here in Europe. Great. An unimpeachably strong online infrastructure is also worth paying for in and of itself, of course, so we hope that we'll see smooth lag-free rollouts of Titanfall and other major exclusives this year.
But compared to free games and discounts across three platforms, they've got their work cut out. What do you want from Xbox Live Gold?