Both Microsoft and Sony offer “free games” with their respective subscription services. Microsoft’s Xbox Live has Games with Gold, and Sony’s PlayStation Plus has the Instant Game Collection. When discussing the two, you usually see the same arguments for each side.
Xbox fans will say that Microsoft lets you “own” your free games, even if you cancel Xbox Live. They’ll say Sony is merely “renting” games to you.
PlayStation fans will say that Sony is offering higher-quality titles.
Both sides are correct — sort of. What the Xbox fans are missing is that “ownership” isn’t ownership when it comes to digital games.
Yes, you can keep your Xbox games and play them after you’ve canceled Xbox Live. But you’re merely licensing a digital copy of that game. You don’t own it. You can’t resell it. You can’t let someone borrow it. And should something happen to your Xbox 360 a few years down the line, you might not get that game back. It’ll be as though you never had it.
Let’s say that, in five years, both your Xbox 360 and your PlayStation 3 bite the dust. If the servers are pulled offline for both systems, you’ll have zero digital games. It doesn’t matter if you “rented” them or if they were “given” to you.
This is why I believe digital copies should be priced way lower than physical copies. And it’s why I don’t place a lot of stock in owning digital games.
Instead of thinking of it as “renting” versus “owning,” ask, “which will provide me with the best experience?”
Personally, I’d rather be playing AAA titles.