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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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