Is It OK to Take a Free Game When the Company Selling It Makes a Mistake?Owen Good3/31/13 11:00amFiled to: ethicsdiscussionxbox livexbox 360piracyassassin's creedtiger woods pga tour2096EditPromoteShare to KinjaToggle Conversation toolsGo to permalinkAs I was packing up for some time off about 10 days ago, someone sent an email to me and others who had review copies of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 that all of the game's downloadable courses were already on Xbox Live, and none of them had a price. It was $67 worth of content, for nothing.AdvertisementI didn't answer the email but I did download everything, and my silence acknowledges that I knew this was wrong, or at least looked bad. I didn't even mentally make up an excuse for doing so like, hell, I was reviewing the game and got that copy for free, so, why not the rest of the courses? (Answer: Because I was reviewing the game, not its DLC.) When I later found the content was unusable I was almost relieved to delete it.Then word spread late last week that you could get a full, free copy of Assassin's Creed III from Xbox Live. (The exploit has since been closed.) Had the process not involved creating a Chinese account at live.com, I probably would have done that, too. And I already have the game on a disc.AdvertisementWhy? The impulse may be wrong but it is, I think, understandable. If something of value is being offered for free, even if we already have the product or know that it's being mistakenly given away, the instinct is to grab it. You're getting something for nothing. You're getting away with something. Both instances trigger that high-five-yourself endorphin.In the five years I've worked here, this kind of thing has happened several times. I haven't played a minute of Fable II, but when it was mistakenly left on Xbox Live for free back in 2010, I grabbed it. In 2008, as Xbox Live was converting to its then-new experience, a bunch of downloadable content for Gears of War 2 and Call of Duty, plus Banjo Kazooie, was left exposed on the Marketplace for free. I posted about that then and realized later I should not have, certainly not with the tone I did, as it sent a full-blown riot to Xbox Live. A Microsoft employee later "thanked" me for the test of the system.