Over the past year, both Microsoft and Sony have been pushing their online subscription services – Gold & PS Plus respectively – with the lure of free games every month, a great incentive for gamers. Now it seems video game publishers want to get on board with subscription services too, but honestly, it may not be as bad as we’re all thinking.
Yesterday, EA announced their monthly/yearly subscription service exclusively for the Xbox One – EA Access. For £3.99 per month players can access “The Vault” of EA games to download and play. The service is currently in beta with the option to download Battlefield 4, Madden NFL 25, FIFA 14 and Peggle 2 – with more games getting a 10% discount such as Dragon Age: Inquisition and Battlefield: Hardline and –assumedly – Star Wars Battlefront.
I would also assume we could see older games such Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare making appearances too – though EA has said that Titanfall will be excluded from EA Access to begin with. On top of being able to access a library of games, players will also be able to access demos of games five days before they release as well as getting a 10% discount on digital games and DLC in numerous EA games. For the cost of £3.99 per month for a subscription or around £29.99 a year, that’s an absolute steal. There are also no plans to remove games from “The Vault” once they’ve been added, which means we could see an absolutely massive library of game down the line. Could we possibly see older generation games coming to the service too?
However, after reading up on various articles and a response from Sony on why the service isn’t coming to PlayStation 4, I have a feeling this new service could fundamentally change the gaming landscape. For example, having spent more than £100 on EA games on the Xbox One since it launched last year I’d be more than inclined to sign up for the service and go completely digital with EA’s games for a fraction of the price. It would also allow more players to try games they might not have been interested in before.
What I find most puzzling though, is the exclusive partnership with Microsoft for the service. It emerged earlier today however, that Sony refused to have the service on the PlayStation 4 as it didn’t represent “good value to the PlayStation gamer”. This could either be another smart move on Sony’s part or the worst decision they’ve made in a long time. Not only are Xbox users now getting a decent deal on EA games – exclusively – but who’s to say that EA’s partnership with Microsoft won’t go further than EA Access? We’ve already seen Titanfall release on Xbox platforms and PC with no plans for a PlayStation port and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare still on the horizon for the PS4 and PS3 – nearly half a year after release on Xbox platforms. Remember when Mass Effect used to be an Xbox and PC exclusive? I have a feeling we might start seeing things like that again.
With EA Access not coming to the PlayStation 4 I’d not be surprised to see EA pull some support for their games on Sony’s PlayStation Now service when it launches, much like what happened with Steam and Origin a few years ago. EA have already pulled support for the Wii U and who’s to say they’ll snub PlayStation gamers in much the same way now that Sony have snubbed their subscription service.
Only time will tell what the knock on effects of EA Access will cause. Will other publishers such as Ubisoft, Activision or Square Enix follow suit if it’s a success? Will Sony perform a U-turn on their stance towards the service? There are a lot of questions that have been raised, but I’ll definitely be looking into EA Access when it’s a bit more fleshed out with a larger selection of games.