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It’s been another stellar year for Xbox owners. Not only has the Xbox One as a console gone from strength to strength, but the Backwards Compatibility scheme has ensured that One owners have had a whole host of free titles to get to grips with, with not only their own native games in place, but those from 360 land also making the short trip over.

Furthermore, the Xbox Games With Gold scheme for 2016 has delivered no less than 48 free titles for all Xbox Live Gold members to grab for free. For the £40 Gold subscription price, that represents a huge saving for all gamers and if you are one of the clever ones who are happy to shop around, then you’ll be making an even bigger saving.

But the big question is this. Whilst it is great to have free games thrust our way each and every month, has the Xbox Games With Gold scheme delivered enough quality throughout 2016 to make it worthwhile?

Well, one the face of it, yes it has because we really can’t ever complain about free stuff. But there have been a few dodgy moments along the way.

It has to be said that one of the stand out months for quality of free game has been that of December, with gamers able to get hands on with the utterly stunning Burnout Paradise and Sleeping Dogs as highlights. But that’s not to say there haven’t been decent games thrust our way previously and you’ll be hard pushed to find anyone complaining about being sent Deus Ex Human Revolution, Gears Of War 2, Borderlands, Saints Row IV or Forza Horizon for free. All are titles that are well worth the asking price alone, so when that price is removed, it’s a bit of a no-brainer to ignore them.

Dropping in deeper though and you’ll notice that all those games are actually original Xbox 360 titles, seeing XO gamers needing to take advantage of Backwards Compatibility to fulfil their needs. If we’re being really picky, then it’s disappointing to see that One owners have only really had Sunset Overdrive and Sleeping Dogs as the AAA titles to really get excited by throughout the year.

In the grand scheme of things, that’s a fairly poor show within the 2016 Xbox One Games With Gold vibe, with it instead relying on smaller or indie titles to fill the void. There have been some good ones though – think the excellent The Wolf Among Us, cult favourite XCOM and the engrossing Lords of the Fallen to keep us excited – but there’s also been some bad – yep, we’re looking at you Goat Simulator as the worst of the worst. There’s even been some utterly disappointing additions and we expected a ton more from Super Dungeon Bros, Earthlock Festival of Magic, and to a lesser extent, Zheroes. Not only because they were brand new games arriving on the store as part of the whole Games With Gold process, but because early signs and build ups were rather positive.

Looking at the figures alone, we really can’t complain about the 48 free games and more than $750 in real terms saved by purchasing a year long Gold subscription. Actually it’s been a rather brilliant feature in terms of cash saved. But of those games, how many have still claimed a place on your precious hard drive? Probably not that many. How many really wowed you enough to make you think ‘hey, this Game With Gold scheme is great ‘? Probably less still. In fact, how many of the free games given away with the Xbox Games With Gold scheme would you have gone out and purchased with cold hard cash? Yep, struggling aren’t you.

And that’s where the disappointment lays – as no game, free or not, is seen as a success unless we’re playing it months down the line. And for many of these free games, that’s just never going to be the case, as instead we are left with downloads which are quickly forgotten a day or two later.

The is no debating that 2016 has been a great year for Xbox One gamers, but the overall quality of the free Xbox Games With Gold titles has left a lot to be desired. Here’s hoping that 2017 provides a greater content quality, especially for Xbox One owners, going forward.

Full listing of free Games With Gold titles throughout 2016:

  • Jan – Deus Ex Human Revolution, Dirt Showdown, Zheroes, Killer Instinct Season 1
  • Feb – Gears of War 2, Sacred Citadel, Styx: Master Shadows, Hand of Fate
  • Mar – Borderlands, Supreme Commander 2, Lords of the Fallen, Sherlock Holmes Crimes and Punishments
  • Apr – Saints Row IV, Dead Space, Sunset Overdrive, The Wolf Among Us
  • May – Peggle, Grid 2, Costume Quest 2, Defense Grid 2
  • June – XCOM Enemy Unknown, Super Meat Boy, The Crew, Goat Simulator
  • Juy – TRON, Rainbow Six Vegas, Tumblestone, The Banner Saga 2
  • Aug – Beyond Good & Evil HD, Spelunky, WWE 2k16, Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate
  • Sept – Mirrors Edge, Forza Horizon, AC Chronicles China, Earthlock
  • Oct – I Am Alive, MX vs ATV Reflex, The Escapists, Super Mega Baseball Extra Innings
  • Nov – Fary Cry 3 Blood Dragon, Monkey Island SE, Murdered Soul Suspect, Super Dungeon Bros
  • Dec – Burnout Paradise, Outland, Outlast, Sleeping Dogs
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