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Microsoft calls free Xbox One game promotion an error

A promotion for a test program that would unlock certain Xbox One titles for 24 hours was based on an error, according to Microsoft.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Updated 4 p.m. PT with a new headline based on Microsoft statement claiming that reports of a Free Play Day for select Xbox One titles were based on an error.

Sorry, Xbox One gamers. Despite earlier reports, there is no program that would let you play select Xbox One games for free for 24 hours. At least that's the scoop from Microsoft.

The software giant was reportedly testing a new feature called "Free Play Day with Gold" that would unlock select Xbox One titles for you to download and play for a certain period of time, presumably 24 hours, reported on Thursday. The program was apparently first mentioned in a Reddit Xbox One discussion thread by someone who said that the game "Max: The Curse of Brotherhood" had already been unlocked as a free download.

But the listing of the game was actually an error, which apparently means there is no Free Play Day program. A spokesperson for Microsoft explained the mistake that started all the ruckus via the following statement sent to CNET:

A promotional tile for "Max: Curse of the Brotherhood" was posted briefly on the US dash in error yesterday. We apologize for any inconvenience. We're constantly exploring different ways to offer more benefits to our Xbox Live Gold members and will keep them updated when special offers become available.

Microsoft currently provides some freebies through its Games with Gold program, which offers two Xbox One games for free each month with a $60-per-year Xbox Live Gold subscription. Exposing Xbox One users to even more games via yet another program isn't a bad idea.

Sales of the Xbox One console themselves haven't been as hot as expected, especially when compared with those of Sony's PlayStation 4. Earlier this month, Sony said its PlayStation 4 has sold more than 10 million units worldwide since its November 2013 launch. In April, Microsoft announced it had shipped 5 million Xbox One units to retailers but has remained silent on sales figures. But Microsoft needs all the help it can get to drum up interest in the console and its still limited but growing array of titles.

Despite Microsoft's apparent error, a couple of tweets from the Xbox support account made it sound as if the program was the real deal.

Responding to a tweet asking for information, Microsoft's Xbox support Twitter account initially expressed surprise about the "Free Play Day with Gold" feature, according to blog site Neowin, but offered some hope that it was real. The tweeter asked if "Free Play Day" is a new thing or not. In response, the Xbox support team said: "Looks like it is actually. We'll be in touch here shortly."

A follow-up tweet sounded more promising. "It's something that we're currently looking into," the Xbox support folks said. "Keep an eye on your Xbox One."