I renewed Xbox Live again and got a “free” game

Hitting the Dashboard on the Xbox 360 Wednesday morning I saw a desperate (but still classy) ad pop up amidst the sprawling aisles of icons. The letters took up almost the entire window and read: YOUR GOLD IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE, with some friendly but clearly concerned Avatars below. Between increasing the price of a Gold membership and all the deals they’ve run before and since, Microsoft has done a splendid job of keeping me off balance.

I thought the note I’d made on our calendar was just to remind me that a charge would hit our bank account soon for the last time I reupped my membership, back when the $10 price hike was announced and everyone clamored to “lock it in” at $50. But by Wednesday morning I wasn’t entirely sure and they sweetened the deal by offering one of 4 retail games for free: Kinectimals (we own it), Fable 3 (we own it), Halo Reach (don’t care) and Kinect Sports. Who knows when I’ll get the game — the fine print puts it somewhere between 6 and 400 weeks — but I’m now paid up through May of 2012 and in no risk of having my shiny gold ‘5 Year’ label reset to a dull silver Zero.

So congrats Microsoft. You got my $60 and the chance to sell me so many cheap games and add-ons for another year and I got a “free” game to help further justify that $150 Kinect. Consumer psychology, a slippery slope of convincing yourself you’ve won.


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