Microsoft Fires Back At Sony With Free 360 Game Downloads For XBOX Live Gold Gamers

Well, Microsoft kicked off its big E3 media briefing today with a big middle finger to rival console player Sony. Starting on July 1, XBOX Live Gold members who still have XBOX 360s will get two free game downloads per month to keep — according to Microsoft SVP Yusuf Mehdi, Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3 will be among the first titles to be available for Gold subscribers.

The big message? The Xbox 360 isn’t dead yet, even with the One on the horizon. Microsoft has made no bones about its ambitions to conquer people’s living rooms, and positioning the 360 as a platform with plenty of value should help the company move cheaper 360s even after its newfangled console has already launched.

Of course, this way of adding value will sound very familiar to a certain subset of gamers. Long time Sony fans already know about with the company’s PlayStation Plus service, which allows its subscribers to download a handful of recent and prominent games provided they shell out money on a continuous basis. So far the service has been well-received (disclosure: I’m a PlayStation Plus subscriber myself), but it comes with one prominent caveat: games you download for free while a Plus member can’t be played down the road if you let your subscription lapse. Microsoft’s Mehdi blasted through this little segment of the show (fair enough, considering all the XBOX One demos to plow through), but it appears that the company will take a similar path. Mehdi did use the phrase “for keeps” though, so it almost seems as though users will be able to hang on to them indefinitely — I’ve reached out for clarification and will update this post once I hear back.

This is a developing story, please refresh for updates…