[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap]f you’re an Xbox Live subscriber then you’re probably well aware of the Games With Gold system. For those that have a PlayStation device, you can consider Games With Gold a similar system to PlayStation Plus with a few differences. Most notably, if you don’t download a game within a very short timespan (typically just 15/30 days) then you basically lose that opportunity to snag a “free” game with your subscription. Of course, after you’ve downloaded the title you’re free to play with it as much as desired beyond the initial month. Also, unlike PS+, the degree of games provided per month is much smaller. Then again, Microsoft has fewer consoles to attend to than Sony does.
The complete build of Massive Chalice, Double Fine’s second Kickstarter project, launched on June 1. Of course, backers had their Steam keys in tow and probably had already been playing since the initial Early Access release. However, in an unexpected move, Double Fine also brought the game to Xbox One and had it set as an Xbox Games With Gold promotional title. That means that on launch day, Xbox Live Gold subscribers could play Massive Chalice free of charge as long as they download before June is over. As you might expect, this riled at least a few feathers in regards to Kickstarter backers. Of course, Xbox One fans were totally pleased as Games With Gold releases are basically always a secret until right beforehand.
In principle it might seem unfair, but really this requires stepping back a moment and considering what Kickstarter itself actually is. The crowdfunding platform is a place for users to back projects because they believe in them and want to see them succeed. Obtaining “rewards” for backing just serves as a great way to goad people into actually putting forth money so things don’t feel quite so charitable. Many people come to Kickstarter and Indiegogo with the mindset of backing as pre-ordering a product, but that is not truly the case, though a majority of campaigns use that model.
If you look at the Massive Chalice issue from that perspective then it does seem unfair. After all, (some) of those Xbox One owners did not back the Kickstarter and are getting a game for no reason other than subscribing to Microsoft’s paid service. Why would Double Fine even do this? Doesn’t it cut their potential sales down? Not necessarily. You see, when a developer pushes their game onto either Games With Gold or PlayStation Plus they’re guaranteed a portion of funds from Microsoft or Sony respectively. Why? Simple, because giving out “free” downloadable games both companies see their subscriberbase increase. It’s impossible for an outsider to say whether or not this money is necessary for Double Fine, but who knows! It could also just be a powerful marketing push to remind people Massive Chalice exists and is awesome.
Xbox One owners should obviously download Massive Chalice immediately if they haven’t, as it regularly costs $19.99. Backers who are flustered should also consider the fact that most of them have already had access to the game for months. Backers have had the ability to see what goes on “backstage” to some degree. Many have followed through different iterations on Early Access and really seen the game grow to its current form. None of that backer privilege is being conferred to Xbox One players. The situation may be a bit odd, but at the end of the day, in my opinion, this isn’t something to get frustrated with.