Is Sony Right About EA's All Access Subscription Plan?

Image: Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts announced a few weeks ago that it partnered with Microsoft to deliver EA Access to the Xbox One console. This subscription service, costing $4.99 per month (or $29.99 per year), provides "access" to what EA calls "The Vault." Right now, that "vault" consists of FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2 and Battlefield 4.

Through this subscription service, customers have unlimited access to the four games as well as access to trials, which are made available five days before the retail game hits store shelves. Subscribers also receive a 10 percent discount when buying digital content from EA on the Xbox Games Store.

For now, Sony has declined to offer the EA Access service to PlayStation gamers, reporting that the subscription just doesn't provide enough value to Sony's customers. A Sony representative recently pointed out that PlayStation Plus memberships are up 200 percent which shows that PlayStation customers want access to a number of services at a very low price point, not just one.

"We don't think asking our fans to pay an additional $5 a month for this EA-specific program represents good value to the PlayStation gamer," the representative told GameInformer.

Microsoft seemingly thinks differently. Sure, the service is currently offering four games as a beta, and there's a good chance that many Xbox One owners will swoop in just to play Battlefield 4, but the game itself originally retailed for $60, and Amazon currently shows a price tag of $28.09. That's slightly lower than the subscription, yet the subscription has three additional games plus whatever EA decides to throw into the Vault in the near future.

Perhaps as the Vault gets bigger, Sony may take a step back and re-evaluate the EA Access situation. EA chief operating officer Peter Moore said on Thursday that more AAA titles will make their way into the Vault and that titles will not be removed. However, don't expect to see every AAA title in the subscription service.

"New game additions will be determined by franchise and timing," he told CVG. "We have to make decisions along that way, so there's no template, like 30 days after a game ships it goes into the Vault. I think one of the key things is that once a game goes into the Vault it stays there, it's not going to be taken out, that's a commitment we've made."

That sounds like an incredible value despite Sony's reluctance. Even more, subscribers will get early access to Dragon Age: Inquisition as well as FIFA 15, Madden NFL 15, NBA Live 15 and NHL 15. If customers decide to purchase the game, their saved progress will carry over so that gamers aren't required to start from the beginning.

Unfortunately, Activision fans won't see a similar service anytime soon. Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg said during a post-earnings financial call this week that the company is always looking for "new opportunities" to better serve its customers and the community. If a business model is proven, then Activision may pursue it if it makes sense.

"But right now we're continuing to focus on the things we discussed on our call, which include a wide range of business and monetization models, all of which will deliver we think the best experience for our fans and a great return for our shareholders," he said.

Is EA making the right move by offering a subscription service? Do Sony and Activision have a point? Right now all we can do is watch what happens with EA Access. The plan sounds like a good deal, especially when additional blockbuster titles start popping up.

EA Access is slated to launch on the Xbox One "soon."

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  • knowom
    This $29.99 per year access game leasing this would be a much better and more enticing deal if at the end of the year you could pick and choose one of the titles to keep. I think that would make it a easier pill to swallow for a lot of people at that point especially if the game library expands which I expect it will a bit.
  • ldun
    so you can pay 20-30$ for a single game that you can keep "forever" or rent multiple games, that who knows how long they'll be available for, for 30$ a year. I'll pass
  • moshman
    This is a day 1 $30 annual subscription for me. Ill make up the $30 twice over with the 10% discount on all digital purchases. Plus you get all the games in the vault which never go away and 5 day early access to new releases...awesome deal !
  • deftonian
    I'm going to say that EA doesn't usually do anything unless it's trying to make a quick profit at the moral cost of it's users (us)... so I'm a bit "iffy" about this. I think I back Sony and say that it's not a sweet enough deal right now but if EA continues to drop good games in there, I can see how it may have some value down the line. Let's just wait and see how EA screws this one up... err, I mean handle this. I strongly hope that EA proves us wrong and makes this subscription worth it.
  • eklipz330
    so you can pay 20-30$ for a single game that you can keep "forever" or rent multiple games, that who knows how long they'll be available for, for 30$ a year. I'll pass
    ea are notorious for shutting down servers, so even their physical copies become useless in time. and there is no way they're going to be offering origin like sales on consoles because they don't have STEAM like competition. on PC, STEAM is king. Valve sets the rules. EA is just a follower. as they are on consoles.

    this can either be a really good or really bad move. think about it.

    it can clearly be a bad move since sony is in no position to dictate what is a good value for a consumer. an idiot is going to throw their money at anything regardless, so this is irrelevant. furthermore, sony is a corporation that is out for profit, as is EA, so this is a bit hypocritical. my guess is that sony requested a cut of the money and ea denied.

    how can this be a good decision?
    EA doesn't have the greatest reputation at this time. people HATE EA so much that they'll do anything to avoid business with them. so who is going to befriend Sony? as the old adage goes "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". i know this can be farfetched, but in terms of reputation and how loud voices can be on the internet, i bet this can be far reaching.
  • SirGCal
    I, for one, am anti-EA. But that asside, I would not do this for any other company either. They plan to do it like paid apps and you have to buy more DLC (not included in the subscription), buy extras, etc. It's a nickle and dime plan and I'm against those all the way.
  • skit75
    Not too many games have the replay-ability these days to warrant the keeping forever concept, in my humble opinion. Can't say I would be a fan of a company specific subscription either. I was late to join Steam but over the last couple years, I must say they have an impressive model, excellent sales and great selection of games with quality download speeds. I get can sustain about 7MB/s downloads from them. I do get twice that bandwidth(~15MB/s) from Origin but Steam is where it is at. =)

    I think Sony has a good dog in this fight.
  • damric
    You guys stop kidding yourselves.

    You don't "buy" games anymore. You lease them. You don't "own" anything in your EA account, nor your Steam account. Read your terms of use.
  • rayden54
    Right now, I'd agree with Steam. If they add more and better games, we'll see.
  • jasonelmore
    The only developer in which i would pay $30 a year for tons of there games, is UBISOFT. Seriously, they make great games.