Xbox One gamers will soon have a new way to try games before they buy them. Microsoft is testing a new free rental system for the console.
Gamers playing the beta for Xbox One's September update noticed a feature called "Free Play Day with Gold." In other words, Xbox Live Gold members would be able to play select games for 24 hours for no charge. A screenshot from a Reddit user showed puzzle-platformer Max: The Curse of the Brotherhood as one of the games supporting this feature.
Microsoft confirmed that this feature's appearance was an error. They also admitted that they're testing these demos as a new perk for Gold members.
"We're constantly exploring different ways to offer more benefits to our Xbox Live Gold members and will keep them updated when special offers become available," a spokesperson told Eurogamer.
It's unclear how these Free Play Days would work. Will players get access to the full game for 24 hours, or just a section of the game? The latter seems more likely. A day's more than enough time to finish Curse of the Brotherhood and other games. Free trials won't encourage players to buy the game if they finish it before they have to pay.
The amount of demos available for Gold members is also unclear. If Microsoft offers demos for a good chunk of the Xbox One's library, then that could be a really great benefit to Xbox Live Gold membership. I'm less impressed with the feature if the 24-hour trials are only offered for a couple games a month. Either way, this would be a net gain for Xbox One gamers, though. Not many games offer free trials so the more, the better.
The head of the Microsoft's [email protected] program hinted at this feature in July. He only mentioned it in reference to indie games, but I can't see any reason why large publishers wouldn't support that feature as well.
Sony offers a similar feature to PlayStation Plus members. Their Full Game Trials allow players to download an entire PS3 game and access all of its content for one hour. After that, they need to buy the game to continue their adventure. The Trophies and progress earned during the trial will carry over to the purchased version. The game doesn't need to be re-downloaded to keep playing.
PlayStation Plus' Full Game Trials seem like a good model for these new Xbox One demos. They give the user a lengthy look at the game and make it easy to transition to the full version. The time spent downloading and playing the trial is a meaningful headstart on the full game.
I'm a little baffled that Sony hasn't brought Full Game Trials to PS4 yet. Maybe Microsoft's introduction of Free Play Days will finally push Sony to do that. The competition between the two companies has proved very beneficial for Xbox Live and PSN users. The exclusive free games and discounts for Xbox Live Gold members were at least partly a response to similar features for PS Plus.