Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By Jamaal Ryan

EA’s Xbox One exclusive Access program was announced and released yesterday, which will allow gamers full access – ala Netflix – to their Vault of games which will be added to throughout the Access beta and beyond for $5 a month or $30 annually. Currently, that ‘Vault’ is comprised of FIFA 14, Madden 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4. In addition to unlimited access, EA’s program also offers 10% discounts on all digital games and even earlier access (can’t stop saying ‘access’) to new titles. Dragon Age Inquisition will be the first to be available to subscribers 5 days before its official release date.

It’s a model that expands off of their short lived EA Sports Season Ticket program, and further apes the Netflix and Playstation Plus model. But would I be willing to pay for another subscription fee in addition to PSN and Xbox Live?

When looking at it within the context of sheer pricing and numbers, gamers could earn their money back quicker than a Playstation Plus subscription. Of the above 4 games that will be available for the Access beta, altogether, they’re worth more than even an annual subscription price, and rivals the value of a Steam sale if you simply pay for a single month.

EA makes a great case here, even if Sony doesn’t think so; however the library has to speak to me long before I even consider opting in for a 1 month trial. FIFA and Madden cater to a completely different gamer than myself since I don’t give a shit about sports games. Battlefield 4? Hah! Fuck off. That only leaves Peggle 2 which doesn’t stand on its own as being worth it for any level of commitment. As you can tell, discounts and early access doesn’t interest me in the least.

Pigeon holing it into the Xbox One could stymie the appeal of the service with such a limited list of EA releases on the platform. Say if it was also available on Xbox 360 where games like the Mass Effect Trilogy, Dead Spaces 1&2, and Mirrors Edge just to name a few were available in the Vault, and that could garner immediate attraction to a subscription.

Perhaps this may be a bit too early to introduce such a service on a new platform, but what about down the line? Unless EA Access completely tanks, you can bet that such a program would catch on to other publishers just like Games with Gold caught onto Xbox platforms. Imagine if other major publishers such as Ubisoft and 2K created similar models. Even if we’re looking at three different subscriptions ranging around $30 each, and among those subscriptions, Battlefront, Far Cry 4, and Gearbox’s Battleborn become available along with other great games across three different publishers, that alone is an instant return value.

It’s easy to cringe at the thought of EA looking for a financial commitment, especially in the wake of Sony – who leads with the universally favored service – that turned down EA’s offer comparing it to their own free games and discounts service. It’s easy to say that “EA’s just lookin’ for my money!” Well no shit, of course they are. But looking at it within the context of potentially having a large quantity of quality games available for just $30 a year? If both ‘Q’s’ match up – and having more… good games is absolutely essential – then I’m willing to fork over half the cost of a full retail game for multiple. 

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