"Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013" and "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas" will be the two games offered through Xbox's Games with Gold program this September, according to Xbox Live Director of Programming Larry Hryb, a.k.a. Major Nelson.
"Magic 2013," normally priced at $9.99, will be available for free from Sept. 1 to 15, while "Rainbow Six: Vegas," normally $19.99, can be downloaded from the 16th to 30th, Hryb said.
"Magic 2013" is based on the popular collectible card game of the same name and was released last year. It received mostly positive reviews, but some criticized it for being too similar to its previous incarnation, which was released a mere year before. It appears to be going the "Madden NFL" route, as another game in the series, "Magic 2014," was released just this year in June.
"Rainbow Six: Vegas" is another game that has already received a sequel, and was released early in the Xbox 360's lifespan ... almost seven years ago. It received very positive reviews when it was released and was popular in the competitive scene for a brief while.
This month's Games with Gold have been met with much of the same reception as those previous: indifference at best, anger at worst. The comments on Hryb's announcement post capture those sentiments in a nutshell. Check any of the articles or forum posts discussing the program, and the comments are much the same.
Many often draw unfavorable comparisons with PlayStation Plus program, which usually offers more recent, more relevant (and not to mention more expensive) games for free. Others point out that "Rainbow Six: Vegas" can be found in GameStop bargain bins for less than $3.
It's clear that Microsoft's heart really isn't in the Games with Gold program. After seeing the games that have been offered, which include oldies such as "Assassin's Creed II" and "Crackdown" and cheapies such as "Defense Grid," it comes across as a halfhearted attempt at matching Sony's success with PlayStation Plus.
By the way, if you're a member of PlayStation Plus, you'll get five games for free this month.
If Microsoft were serious about trying to keep subscribers on the Xbox brand when the next generation rolls around, it might try and put more effort into selecting games until the program ends in three months.
For someone who has no intention of buying an Xbox One, however, Games with Gold might be a nice opportunity to try some games you might never have played otherwise.