Game ownership is a constant point of contention within the industry these days, with many questioning whether or not anyone owns the games they purchase. Some argue that you only own the disc, as to say a license, to play the game. Others argue that you own the game for life, and you can choose to do with it whatever you like.
Now, what we learned from Microsoft and the whole Xbox One debacle from last year is that many players are not ready to throw away their rights to own a game. People want to be sure they can play the games they want whenever they want, internet connection or not, or have the option to sell or trade games however they wish without restrictions. That argument has been settled, and Microsoft lost big time. While a big factor in their current less-than-stellar performance has to do with price than much else, you could certainly argue that the DRM PR blunders of yesteryear are still affecting them in some way.
EA looks to be trying to move in a more digital, less ownership direction with their own service called EA Access. Much like Playstation Plus and Xbox Games With Gold, EA Access is looking to provide players with a way to play select games at a cheap price. The difference however, is that EA Access looks like it will swap out games as it chooses. That makes the service seem more like a trial service than anything else.
Where that differs from Xbox Games With Gold and Playstation Plus is that the games you download from those services are yours until you cancel the service. Microsoft and Sony can swap out games all they want but you can continue playing games you downloaded years ago if you wish, meanwhile adding more. With these services, the longer you subscribe, the more awarded you feel.
With EA Access, it seems that you might be paying for a different service that will only allow you to play the selection of games for certain amounts of time. Let’s say in August, EA decides you can’t play Battlefield 4 anymore, and swaps it out with another game you don’t like as much. You’d then have to go buy Battlefield 4, and you might not get a game you care for as much in return.
Where Xbox Games With Gold and Playstation Plus go out of the way to make sure you “own” the games as much as you can, EA Access looks to take that privilege away in favor of offering bigger games. The line-up for the launch (that begins today for select players) includes Battlefield 4, Madden NFL 25, FIFA 14, and Peggle 2. That’s three full priced games and a premium-priced digital game. The cost for EA Access which offers all of that? $5 per month, or $30 per year. At $30 per year, that’s $2.50 per month.
The other factor for this service is the discounts offered. Much like Playstation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, EA Access will offer a 10% discount on many games, including the games offered for free in that specific time-frame. Play First is another benefit, which promises early access to a bevy of EA games including the upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Is the EA Access service worth it? It’s entirely too early to tell, and it could offer a great value to many in the upcoming months depending on how EA views the service. If it ends up being a platform for paid demos that used to be free, I don’t see that sitting well. However, if the service ends up proving its worth as a value added service, I see success on the horizon.