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EA's new subscription service: What it is, why it matters

EA is about to make an offer to Xbox One owners that (it hopes) they can't refuse. Today it announced the EA Access subscription service for the Xbox One, which provides access to a library of EA games for one recurring monthly fee. But is this new deal something that you'll want to invest your money in? Is the promise of an ever-expanding library of games too good to be true? And is this a good thing for gamers and the industry they love?

First, the details. EA Access is a subscription-based service: for a monthly fee of $4.99 (or a discounted annual fee of $29.99), you get access to various EA titles, collectively known as the EA Vault. Initially, the Vault will include Battlefield 4, Madden NFL 25, Fifa 14, and Peggle 2, though more games will be added over time. In addition to this, you also get a 10 percent discount on all EA digital purchases through the Xbox Live Marketplace--including DLC and new games. That's the gist: though some unanswered questions remain: How often will EA add games to its Vault? And will it be committed to adding worthwhile titles to the lineup, or just the undesirables? Despite the unknowns, it still sounds like a promising offer.

For gamers, this could end up being a really good deal. You're getting access to an ever-expanding library of games--the Vault collection alone is what will likely entice you into paying for Access in the first place. Granted, it'll depend on what games are included, and how frequently new ones will be made available. Hopefully it wouldn't be too long of a wait, because it's not like the Xbox One has a huge backlog of games to fall back on. With a regular flow of new games coming in, Access could potentially offer a huge bang for your buck.

Plus, if you're a big EA fan, the 10 percent discount on the digital content would pay for the subscription in about five new game purchases, assuming you're paying the yearly cost.That alone doesn't sound too great if you don't buy every sports game and shooter that EA puts on store shelves, but that 10 percent is certainly more than you're going to get from anywhere else for a day-one purchase of a brand new game.

From EA's point of view, the industry giant stands to gain plenty from a successful subscription service. Not only will it get a steady stream of income from a library of games that have generally tapered off in terms of sales, it's building its franchises' audiences. Imagine that you haven't played any games in the Battlefield series before, and Battlefield 4 pops up on Access for you to try. You may end up loving it--and before you know it, you're putting in a pre-order for a 10-percent discounted Battlefield: Hardline. EA has created a new fan out of you AND coerced you into buying a new game directly from the publisher--with no middleman (GameStop) in there to get a piece of the profit. It's diabolical, I tell you!

But hey, while it's all well and good that EA obviously stands to benefit from Access, adding another subscription-based service to the market could also be great for the industry as a whole. PlayStation Now is another upcoming service that will give subscribers access to a library of games. And with the two services competing against each other, it's gamers who benefit. With EA kicking off Access, it wouldn't be surprising if other publishers like Ubisoft or Nintendo (come on Virtual Console subscription model) started services of their own. That could lead to a healthy competitive environment with each service trying to one-up the others with better deals.

It looks like we'll have to wait and see how it goes, but there could be a bright future in more publishers adopting the subscription service model. Expanding libraries of games have proven to be a pretty awesome things; PlayStation Plus' Instant Game Collection and Xbox's Games with Gold have added an incredible amount of value to Sony and Microsoft's online services. It's about time other companies jumped on the bandwagon and gave me access to more games than I'd know what to do with.

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14 comments

  • _--_ - July 30, 2014 12:07 p.m.

    --one perspective? --sit back --and watch xbox1 and EA go further down the drain --its really gonna be a show --ESPECIALLY since wiiU sales have picked up(since MK8) --and have started beating and competing with xb1 --oh --this is gonna be fun
  • Jackonomics2.0 - July 30, 2014 12:32 p.m.

    They started, but Nintendo reported their losses,today, technically not losses, but basically what they didn't gain from their prediction. Speaking of which, expect a shitstorm tomorrow, apparently Japan told Sony to fuck off or something.
  • _--_ - July 30, 2014 1:33 p.m.

    --nintendo will be around for decades more(if not centuries) --but --xbox will probably go out of business this gen(at least the hardware business) --xbox has never made microsoft ANY money --as a matter of fact --xbox has cost MS BILLIONS and BILLIONS in unreturned investments(rumored to be as much as 300 billion~yes 300~~and yes billion with a B --so --it wouldnt be 'too surprising' if MS padded xbox's accounts(for the millionth time) --to keep xbox 'alive' --but --the hardcore gaming market is shrinking and bowing to the casual market --which means --millions of gamers who used to get their 'fix' with consoles --are just using tablets~phones and even still laptops and PCs to play the 'casual stuff' --and this means --a super conglomerate monopolizer like MS --will 'lose interest' in monopolizing such a small industry --about the ONLY thing that would keep MS in the console business --is 'somebody's' pride(probably a group of people) --and those people --are likely getting older now(moving to new jobs) --and retiring --in reality --its NO secret how many 'dead serious' HARDCORE console gamers there are(at this time) --its basically how many PS4's sold + how many xb1s sold = 14 million --of course --there are still hardcore gamers that havent bought 8th gen yet --but --by next summer --the number of the xb1s + PS4s sold will = 'about' how hardcore console gamers are the 'industry's target' --the bottom line(logic) is --console gamers buy and play consoles --so --however many 'new' consoles have been sold = how many console gamers there are --while 360 and ps3 sold around 80 million units each --that doesnt mean there are 160million hardcore gamers out there(lots of gamers bought both consoles~and MANY gamers bought the same console more than once)
  • FoxdenRacing - July 30, 2014 11:19 a.m.

    I've been burned too many times to take the hopeful futurist angle, but am honestly more welcoming of something like this than I am of a switch to pure DD...IMO, the benefits of DD on console don't outweigh the drawbacks. (Yes, quantifying that matters, because console and PC had wildly different retail paradigms even before DD was possible, and today the two have wildly different policies) It's no secret I prefer physical media, so that the onus for not being able to continue to play lays on me, not on some bean-counter with access to a kill switch...but getting hands on original copies of some games (let alone the hardware to run it) is a royal pain, and those that don't have the patience, or desire to pay 'collector' prices, shouldn't miss out. The only downsides I see to something like this, or PSNow, is how are the games played? Is it downloaded, which eliminates input lag but means downloads and check-ins? Is it streamed, keeping downloads at bay but tempting bandwidth caps and introducing input lag? And the really big one: Much like the F2P model, how sustainable will it be once everyone is doing something similar? $5/month isn't much. But $50/month once you cover EA Access, Acti Availability, Ubi Unboxed, 2K Vault, Microsoft Memories, Blizzard Avalanche, Rockstar Backstage, Capcom Classics, The Konami Codebase, and however many other also-rans, could be a deal-breaker...or worse, depress future sales, as a not-insubstantial chunk of a gamer's disposable income is going for access to previous products. It also makes me wonder if EA and Sony have recently had a backroom falling-out over the royalties from PSNow, not unlike their genital-waving contest with Valve that led to the launch of Origin. (RIP, Origin Systems, whose name has been soullessly repurposed in such a way)
  • GOD - July 30, 2014 10:17 a.m.

    I really don't see the value in this unless they promise to add new games to the Vault relatively close to release. If you're any kind of fan of EA games you'll probably want certain ones when they come out, yet if the ones you want don't come to the Vault then you're basically paying $30 a year for a 10% discount. Even if you get the most recent Battlefield for "free" with your subscription, you'll end up easily paying plenty more money on Battlefield DLC, because as far as I could tell from this article, that isn't included in the Vault.
  • Ensoul - July 30, 2014 9 a.m.

    "(come on Virtual Console subscription model) " I so wish this would happen, but it won't. It never will. :( As for EA, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. The catch. The thing they aren't mentioning. Maybe it's a terms and conditions thing....
  • Vonter - July 30, 2014 11:30 a.m.

    I smell premium locked content, only for 2 more dollars.
  • Jackonomics2.0 - July 30, 2014 5:46 a.m.

    Lol Sony refuses the service for the PS4.
  • Shigeruken - July 30, 2014 5:41 a.m.

    I don't really see value in this tbh, but I must admit that it's a better deal than bloody Battlefield premium.
  • Vonter - July 29, 2014 9:38 p.m.

    I suppose EA games have more value as a service than a product, since most are really updates instead of shaking up their franchises. Maybe they are testing the waters before bringing their Origin service to consoles.
  • Shayz - July 29, 2014 7:59 p.m.

    The only thing they're being smart about here is halving the price of annual vs monthly. That's a HUGE discount. It would cost you 5 x 12 or $60 (the price of a brand new game) for monthly, or only $30 for a whole year. Anyone who is serious about this sort of thing will most definitely go for the annual.
  • Shayz - July 29, 2014 7:55 p.m.

    They really should have included more than just 2 sports game, battlefield, and peggle. The initial lineup looks terrible. I mean, having something like PvZGW would have been great, maybe sims 3, a racing game, and one other title to at least diversify it a bit. If I was an owner of an Xbone I'd probably wait to see what games they plan on adding. Isn't playstation now's lineup something crazy like over 1000 games? Or maybe that was also tv series, movies, etc...I'm not very informed okay? Besides, starting out with only 4 games means that anyone who joins now and decides to leave after a month with no good additional content will just be a lost customer who won't come back.
  • Divine Paladin - July 29, 2014 8:39 p.m.

    PSNow's lineup is pretty big, yeah. The PSNow pricing is also pretty terrible, so it somewhat evens out. That said, while this doesn't compare to Plus (which makes up for the grubbing we seem to be seeing with Now), I have to commend EA for making a good deal here. The starting lineup isn't fantastic, but all four games are worth much more than the yearly price let alone just one month's worth. This could really screw them if sports fans milk the deal just during active release months, especially with the early launch subscribers get; the fact that EA is even taking a risk at all (no matter how safe a risk it is) is worth a +1 to EA. That said, it won't do much to boost the One's sales, which is the whole point of the current exclusivity, but it may at least push some people on the fence. Doesn't do anything for me though. I'd get it on PS4, though (when I eventually get my PS4)
  • Jackonomics2.0 - July 29, 2014 7:46 p.m.

    It's good to know I get to pay another subscription fee on top of my regular Xbox gold subscription.

Showing 1-14 of 14 comments

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