Electronic Arts, makers of such famous gaming franchises as Madden NFL, is finally ready to let everyone with an Xbox One try out its EA Access subscription service. That’s the same service that’ll let Xbox One owners download digital copies of Battlefield 4, FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25 and Peggle 2 for just $4.99 a month.
EA itself has yet to announced the arrival of EA Access to all Xbox One users on its own website. However, the company did partner with Microsoft’s Xbox Wire news blog to reveal the final version of the new subscription gaming service.
As of now the EA Access application is now available for anyone to download from the Xbox Store. With that app users can look at the games that are available through the subscription service and judge whether it’s worth the $4.99 they’ll have to pay each month if they want to hang on to the titles they download. Today, that selection only includes the four games that Electronic Arts shared information about during the EA Access beta, but the company says that it has plans to include more as time passes.
Last week Electronic Arts confirmed that when a game is added to EA Access it will remain available to users. That’s a stark contrast from the way other video game subscription services like Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus work.
EA Access isn’t just a subscription gaming service. It’s also a discount and rewards program. When EA Access subscribers purchase a full copy of games like Madden NFL 15 they’ll find the price of the game discounted by a 10%. Additionally, EA Access users get to download titles a bit earlier than other users. Electronic Arts is using that last bit as an excuse to not release a demo of Madden NFL 15 like they’ve done with games in franchise for the last decade or so.
That sleight of hand aside, EA Access could be the model for gaming services going forward. Users being able to download digital titles without going to stores has allowed Microsoft and Electronic Arts to create a program that could change the way people think about games. Today, when someone wants to play an Electronic Arts title they’re stuck heading to a store and paying roughly $35 to $60. They can trade that game in later on and recoup some of the money they spent on it, but chances are it won’t be nearly enough to cover a little more than half of their purchase price. $4.99 a month gets EA Access users a copy of their favorite game and access to all of that game’s downloadable content at one monthly rate. Of course, if users stop paying the games stop working.
In a conversation about the service, Electronic Art’s Michael Lewis compares EA Access to other famous subscription services. “We drew inspiration from some of the great subscription services out there – I couldn’t live without Amazon Prime, Xbox Gold, and Netflix.
EA Access is exclusively for Microsoft’s current generation console. That means that today, only Xbox One users can take advantage of EA Access. It turns out that Electronic Arts approached Sony about including EA Access on its PS4 gaming console. Sony said that it turned down the opportunity to work with Electronic Arts on EA Access because it wasn’t a great value for gamers. Big talk aside, it’s more likely that Sony decided to not make EA Access available to users because it didn’t want the subscription service to compete with PlayStation Now. PlayStation is the streaming service that Sony showed off at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Instead of paying one flat rate, PlayStation Now users pay to rent each game for a period of time.