Starting September 16, Portal 2 will be the last Xbox 360 game made available for free to Xbox Live subscribers via the Games for Gold program.
Microsoft told subscribers in July that its monthly Games with Gold offerings “will no longer include Xbox 360 titles” starting on October 1 because “we have reached the limit of our ability to bring Xbox 360 games to the catalogue.” The Games with Gold program will continue to offer free monthly Xbox One games, though, as it has since 2015.
Xbox 360 owners that subscribed to Xbox Live Gold since Games with Gold started in 2013 have gotten access to more than 200 games through the program, provided they logged in to claim those games during their half-month availability window. That’s not a bad value for a subscription that has remained priced at $60 per year for that entire period, despite Microsoft’s recent threats to increase the price.
While Microsoft stopped producing Xbox 360 hardware in 2016, all but a handful of the Games for Gold offerings from the system’s library have been backward compatible on the Xbox One (and, more recently, the Xbox Series X/S). Redeemed Games with Gold titles can still be played and redownloaded even after a user cancels an Xbox Live Gold subscription as well.
Interestingly, September’s Games with Gold offerings also include Thrillville, an original Xbox title that was made compatible with more modern Xbox hardware in November 2021. This is just the 19th original Xbox game offered via the Games with Gold program, and it’s the first since Conker: Live and Reloaded was added in July 2021.
Microsoft has in recent years faced persistent rumors that it is planning to phase out its Xbox Live Gold subscriptions in favor of the more expensive and expansive Xbox Game Pass subscriptions. Microsoft shut down those rumors in August 2020, saying in a statement that Xbox Live “is an important part of gaming on Xbox today and will continue to be in the future.” Last July, though, VentureBeat reporter Jeff Grubb said on the Giant Bomb podcast that “I just wanted to reiterate, Xbox Live Gold is still on a board somewhere saying ‘this is going to go away at some point.'”
Last year, Microsoft finally removed the Xbox Live Gold subscription requirement for users to play free-to-play titles online, matching a carve-out Sony has had in place since 2014.