When I hooked up my PlayStation 4, it already offered me two great games for me to play, three, if you count DC Universe Online. Had I not traded in a bunch of games for store credit the day my Xbox One arrived, I would have been able to, what? Play a fighting game with one character? A Kinect demo?
Yes, Killer Instinct may be free but, hand-to-God, I couldn't find it in any of my menus after connecting the console. It's also not the full title, which Resogun and Contrast are on PlayStation Network. Yes, getting them depends upon subscribing to PlayStation Plus, which if I wasn't already signed up represents a hidden cost (because you need it for multiplayer) on the level of a new game purchase. But Xbox Live Gold access represents the same thing and costs $10 more. And there ain't no free game with the Xbox One, let alone two.
Lest you think that's some kind of a specialty bundle practice only, a free game with the machine is a concept as old as the Atari 2600 and the ColecoVision (which the Xbox One easily surpasses in mass. Oh my God.) After all, you buy the machine, you want to plug it in and play it, not admire it. It's why Super Mario Bros. shipped with the NES. My original Xbox came with some Star Wars game; my Xbox 360 had some arcade titles like Hexic installed on the drive. The Xbox One? Bupkiss.
Rich Grisham, my friend who writes for GamesRadar and hosts the Press Row Podcast panel on sports video games, put the disappointment much more sympathetically in our Google hangout on Friday night. Rich is literally a day one subscriber to Xbox Live and he's a day one purchaser of the Xbox One. Here's how he put it, at 1:28:01 of this video.
When I turned on my PS4 I instantly got two free games. Spectacular. Super fun. Within 15 minutes—and I had a very small PS friends list—but within a day I had a whole bunch of people all there. I plugged in my Xbox One today and got going and I just didn't have the same—I didn't get a free game. I have been an Xbox Live subscriber since day one. Since the first day Xbox Live was a thing, I have been paying for it.
Hey, you're an Xbox Live subscriber, and you have an Xbox One on day one. Here's ... something ...
Instead, what do you get? Some nutball "achievement" for getting the machine day one—an achievement some dumbasses are selling on eBay and some even dumber asses are buying.
Gamers are notoriously and justifiably chided for a sense of entitlement, even if that criticism has become prone to overuse. I don't think it's applicable here. You bring home the Xbox One, that's like the start of the negotiation. What's it gonna take to put you behind the wheel of Call of Duty: Ghosts today?
Don't want to buy a game off the Xbox Live Marketplace? I found you can download an early edition of Kinect Sports Rivals (due for release in the spring) for free. Demos? If they exist I can't find where they are in the menu.
"PlayStation 4 welcomed me into the PlayStation 4 era much more than the Xbox One did," Rich said (and no, he didn't expect the Xbox One to welcome him to the PS4 era, either.) "It's almost like Microsoft expects me to be there, and Sony's happy for me to be there." That's an important distinction, maybe the most profound one between the consoles that I experienced in the first week both were available.
The rest of the Google Hangout concerns sports, mainly—although you can watch me fumble around clearing space, cleaning up and re-wiring my TV cabinet for five consoles. Warning: I'm bending over and reaching into the entertainment center, so my Dan Aykroyd refrigerator repairman asscrack makes a (deliberate) cameo at 27:20.
If you're a sports gamer you really should subscribe to our podcast, and tune in for our hangouts on Fridays at 11 p.m. which you can catch live or as a rebroadcast via Pasta Padre. Press Row's Twitter feed also sends out notices of hangouts when special subjects arise.