Microsoft is finally adding some unique value to users of its Xbox One console and subscribers of its Xbox Live gaming service. Today, the company announced that users will be able to play Forza 5 for the Xbox One completely free – provided they have an active Xbox Live Gold subscription.
Microsoft stunned gamers earlier this morning when it announced that for this weekend only Xbox Live Gold subscribers would get free access to Forza 5, the driving game that arrived alongside the Xbox One console last year. According to its post on Xbox Wire, users won’t be getting some gimped experience. Instead, they’ll be able to download the full version of the game from the Xbox games Store.
Users will be able to download the game for free starting tomorrow, Thursday, September 4th. Once downloaded, they’ll have until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday September 7th to play the game.
Forza 5 allows users to purchase and customize cars from dozens of auto makers. Those cars are then used to race against others on tons of tracks in the game. At no time are users actually racing against a computer generated character in the traditional since. Instead, Forza 5 learns the driving habits of all those who play it and then uses that imprint to generate characters for other players to race against. Called Drivatars, Forza 5 and the system itself were created on top of Xbox Live Cloud Compute, a service that Microsoft lets developers use to make their games more immersive free of charge.
Of course, Microsoft is hoping that users who like the game are driven to purchase it. To that end, users who buy the game will be able to purchase the game from the Xbox Games Store at full price once the free Forza 5 Weekend is over. Any progress they’ve made or game saves users have will work after they make the purchase too. This isn’t exclusive to digital copies of Forza 5 either. Users who head to GameStop or Wal-Mart to buy a full version of Forza 5 will be able to do so as well, they’ll just have to insert a disc every time they want to play.
In addition to moving copies of Forza 5 Microsoft is hoping to put the spotlight on Forza Horizon 2. Unlike Forza 5, Forza Horizon 2 is made for users who like to race but don’t have a lot of time to tinker around with their vehicle and prefect it. It’s more of an arcade racing title than a racing simulation. Forza Horizon 2 is due out for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 on September 30th.
Xbox One Free Forza 5 Weekend also puts the spotlight on one of Microsoft’s quiet advantages: the relatively nimble Xbox Live service itself. Xbox Live was the first internationally available gaming service on a living room console. The company practically established the gaming services market. Unfortunately, many users have a hard time remembering why Xbox Live is worth subscribing to. In the last six months the company moved to make Xbox Live more viable by matching the free games that Sony’s PlayStation Plus service gives users, making all entertainment apps free to access and letting users share their games with Xbox Live Home Gold. Letting users play high-profile games for free over a given weekend should definitely boost Xbox Live’s profile.
Unfortunately, for now it doesn’t appear as if Microsoft has any plans to offer anything free this weekend to Xbox 360 users. That’s despite Xbox 360 users having to subscribe to Xbox Live to play games with friends and family online just like Xbox One users. Forza 5 is exclusive to the Xbox One.