In the PS4 vs Xbox One battle for gaming supremacy, one particularly large feather in Microsoft’s cap is Games with Gold, which offers free games to those who subscribe to Xbox Live Gold. Here's how this rewards program compares to Sony’s PlayStation Plus, and which free games are available for Xbox users this month.

See also: 27 Most anticipated games of 2015/2016

What is Xbox Live Games with Gold?

The Xbox has two levels of ‘Live’ membership. SIlver is the free, standard one that all users are given when they first create a player profile, and provides them with access to a number of media apps such as Netflix, Twitch, and YouTube. Upgrading to the paid Gold level (currently costing £5.99 per month, or  £39.99 for the whole year) opens up online gaming, discounted titles, and the Games with Gold service. This last option rewards players with free downloadable games each month, across both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One platforms.

How many game does Xbox Live Games with Gold include?

Over the month there are usually four titles available: two for Xbox 360, two for Xbox One. These are spaced out so that two are available for the first half of the month, then the other games replace them. There have been some variants to this formula, with some games being available for a full month, but spanning the later half of one and the start of the other. 

The best part of Games with Gold is that if you currently own an Xbox 360 you can still take advantage of all the Xbox One titles that come up, as when you select them they are saved to your account and will be ready and waiting once you upgrade to the next-generation console. Once the Backwards Compatibility feature is launched in November, all Xbox 360 games appearing on the service from that point on will also work on the Xbox One, meaning you actually get four free games every month for the new console.

Now that’s pretty impressive when you consider that over the course of a year’s membership Xbox One owners will have access to potentially 48 games. One caveat is that you can only play the Games with Gold titles if you have an active Xbox Live Gold account.

Games with Gold

Xbox Live Games with GoldWhich games are available?

October’s Xbox One offerings feature some pretty heavy hitters, with the excellent 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider being the standout title. This is accompanied by the stylish WW1 puzzle/adventure Valiant Hearts, and Season One of the Walking Dead.

Xbox 360 users also have Telltale’s critically acclaimed Walking Dead Season One, plus Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes, which prequels the hugely popular Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.

November’s titles have not been revealed yet, but we’ll update this article as soon as the information becomes available.

Doesn’t the PlayStation 4 have a similar service?

PlayStation Plus has been around for several years now, offering owners of the PS4, PS3, and PS Vita free games each month, for the same fee of £5.99 per month or £39.99 p/a. Each month there are two PS4 titles available, with October bringing classy puzzle adventure Broken Age, and frantic platformer Super Meat Boy. The focus on Sony’s platform does seem to lean more towards indie titles than big AAA games, but one such low-key release, Rocket League, has gone on to be a massive success on the PS4, proving that big isn’t always better.

How do I sign up to Xbox Live Gold?

On your Xbox console's home page you’ll see constant prompts for Games with Gold, or Xbox Live Gold membership. Just select this tile, follow the instructions, and you’ll be good to go.