It is June 1st, and as of now there is no definitive date for when we can expect to see Halo: Spartan Assault and Max: the Curse of Brotherhood arrive on our XBox One‘s for free, even though those games have been confirmed for program rollout for June on the XBox One. Microsoft‘s own news outlets report that the games will arrive on “specific dates coming soon“. This is not an entirely confidence inspiring soundbite. On one hand, I would like to be supremely confident that there is no way MS would risk gooning this up on the eve of E3, so maybe they are just waiting to make them go-live just prior to that event. On the other hand, if it is not part of the E3 announcement strategy, is the deployment of these games and provisioning as free downloads for XBL Gold subscribers a low priority that could drag out beyond the first week of the month?
Halo: Spartan Assault is set between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4. It features online co-op against hordes of Flood as well as Covenant forces.You know; it’s more Halo. And the XBox One needs it badly. Forget about the price drop and going sans Kinect. What the XBox One needs is games, and it needs free, low-cost ones that are compelling and appear to be of at least equal value to what PlayStation gamers are getting through PlayStation Plus. But right now there is no telling when this thing will show up. There is not even a mention of Games with Gold on the XBox One storefront with a “coming soon” tagline or anything. This is disconcerting to say the least.
In contrast, XBox 360 gamers are ready to roll with Dark Souls, Charlie Murder, and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, with the first title available right now. The PlayStation Store is readying to roll out Trine 2: the Complete Story and PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate for the PlayStation 4, and starting in July, those free games (2 per month) will be available for the PS4 from the first Tuesday of the month until the first Tuesday of the following month; no guesswork. I have a lot of confidence that even the June games are going to be ready to roll this coming Tuesday.
While I can hold my horses for the arrival of the other free Games with Gold title for this month, Max: the Curse of Brotherhood, the shifty-feet approach to announcing dates for Halo: Spartan Assualt’s arrival is making me more than nervous. Microsoft should really have this wired by now. The lack of transparency is not placing me in a state of mind that would encourage me to recommend the XB1 over the PS4 to anyone who happened to ask me. At this crucial time, standing at the entrance into summer, when there will be students with two to three months of downtime, some of whom are looking to purchase a new console with those hard-earned summer job bucks, where is Microsoft leaving gamers to go? They are potentially ceding a lot of the mindshare that encourages gamers to go where the free and inexpensive games are to Sony, as they have been doing for some time. Let’s hope they turn it around soon.