EA Access – What Are the Sneaky Bastards at EA Up To?

I want to like the EA Access program. I really want to like it. It’s just that as an avid gamer for so many years I’ve seen what EA does to both games and the industry as a whole. They ‘vanilla up’ great gaming franchises just so they can be on EVERY GODDAMN PLATFORM ON THE PLANET. They bombard our online stores with overpriced DLC and with DLC that unlocks stuff you can get through playing the damn game yourself. Call me a cynic, call me a Negative Norman, call me whatever you like. I DON’T TRUST EA… and this time I hope I’m wrong.

If you haven’t heard yet the Xbox One is getting an early beta look at the new program, EA Access, which if implemented properly could be a boon for gamers. It will allow subscribers to play through the EA ‘Vault’ of games for a mere $5.00 a month or $30.00 for the whole year. As well it gives subscribers a 10% discount across the board on all content purchased digitally alongside early access to trial versions of big games up to five days before release. Any progress you make in those trials will even carry over to the final retail copy of the game. Sounds fantastic right? Sounds too good to be true right? Well if I’ve learned anything in life it’s that things that sound too good to be true often are.

Let’s look at the beta quickly to get a sense of what games will be available in the ‘vault’. Currently we’re looking at FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Battlefield 4 and Peggle 2. Now I’ll agree those games are nothing to sneeze at but they certainly aren’t fresh on the shelves games. If you were to purchase these games it would add up to much more than the $30 per year subscription fee no doubt. The question is how long will it take for games to join the vault after release? If you think they’re adding Dragon Age Inquisition right at release you’re higher than a meth head on welfare day. The higher ups at EA who make all the money choices aren’t going to just give up $60 games to people using the EA Access service. Are you willing to wait six months after release to play the game? I am a nerd of the utmost quality and my dedication level to increasing my nerd cred is of the highest importance. I want my game on day one thank you very much. What this means for dedicated gamers is that the games they end up actually playing on the service will be the ones they weren’t really interested in in the first place.

Dragon Age Inquisition in the EA Vault… Dragon Age Inquisition 2 on sale tomorrow!

Now I might be going off on a bit of a long shot here but let’s take a look at the rise in popularity of the free to play genre. EA, Bethesda, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Sony… they’re all pushing for the growth of the genre on consoles. I have to admit that I am a staunch hater of the F2P model but it’s seeing success and growth across the board. How many games does EA have in the pipe that might be going that route? Something tells me there might be more of them if EA Access takes hold! They’ll give you a game that’s free anyways, rendering the purchase price of a game argument a moot point, and then give you that enticing 10% discount on all of their downloadable add-ons. If EA is good at anything it’s an onslaught of DLC add-ons and those will only grow in numbers.

I think the bottom line is that EA isn’t about to give up their bottom line. No business gives up making money for the option of losing money… at least not on purpose. While it’s obvious that Sony wants to push its own PlayStation NOW program it seems suspect that they actually chose to turn down EA and its EA Access program. They stated that they felt it wasn’t a good value for their user base and that PS Plus offered the same but wasn’t restricted to EA content only. For Sony to give up a service like this and give the advantage to Microsoft seems rather suspect don’t you think? What are they seeing that we aren’t?

There’s no doubt at all that I’m playing devil’s advocate here. On the surface everything seems great, especially to the casual gamer set, who will be able to play games that they wouldn’t have otherwise purchased and hopefully find something they like. The hardcore gamer will likely see a lot less value in all of this as there’s a good chance they’ll have bought and beat and traded away these games long before they hit the vault. For a hardcore gamer to get access to NHL 15 in the vault when NHL 16 is out in a month means little in the way of value too. It means coughing up your cash for little benefit apart from the DLC savings. If anything I can see a huge increase in the already gluttonous offerings of EA DLC, like I mentioned above, because how else are they going to get their money from us?

One of the most obvious things that we can see with this program is the subtle move to pushing digital over physical. Why would anyone want to spend 10% more? God knows I wouldn’t but there’s a certain attachment I have for my game collection. For those of you who trade in games this will all but eliminate the used market for Xbox One versions of EA games if EA has their way. Less copies of used games on shelves equals more new sales of games than ever before!

I’m going to hold back judgement until I see everything that EA is going to lay on the table but as a devoted EA cynic I’m, well… cynical. There’s always a chance that EA just wants to give back to the gamers (haha, oh man, I can’t believe I just typed that… I’m crying over here) and that this will be a straight up win for all of us. I’d love if EA proved a grumpy old gamer wrong and produced a service actually worth buying into. As a gamer what are your thoughts on EA Access? Are you a hardcore gamer? Do you still see value here? Or are you more casual? Will this open you up to franchises you might not have played before? We want to hear your thoughts so don’t be afraid to sound off in the comments section!


  • HalfBlackCanuck

    I think you’re answering your own concern though Shawn. People like you will continue to buy games like Dragon Age day one at $60, therefore there will still need to be a base amount of content in the game to justify the purchase. People like me, who have little interest in that game as a $60 commitment can wait the year and enjoy it then. And if my perception of that game/genre changes? Of course I’ll get the DLC or sequel at 10% off when it comes around. If I don’t take to it? No loss, I just move on.
    As long as people still want their annual sports or franchise games day one, I think there’s little chance this will turn EA games into ‘DLC buy-to-complete’ type fare.
    Hell, I’ll still likely buy a game like I really want day one anyway. I’ll just be able to take advantage of a small discount is all.

    • Shawn Petraschuk

      I agree with you to a point that this serves the casual gamers very well if what we see is what we’ll get. As I said, I really want to like the service and that’s the truth. Right now I don’t hate the service I’m just playing the ‘what if’ card. More DLC? Probably, although you’re right in that it’ s unlikely to be a pay-to-win scenario. From where I stand as a gamer who plays a lot I’m failing to see how it benefits myself at this point… and am 100% hoping to be proven wrong.

  • Brando

    The ‘vault’ has to get a hell of a lot bigger for me to throw them an extra $30. You’d have to buy 5 EA games per year to break even on the 10% discount. That will never happen.

  • Dennis Crosby

    EA is going to make money off this customer will pay $30 up front plus they are going to buy new game at a discount that the point to get consumer to purchase digital so they aren’t spreading the money out. With physical purchase the money is split between the console manufacture, the publisher, paying for packaging and shipping and depend on the agreement they have with store the might split with them too. Now it just them and Microsoft and they both make more money

  • Lucas Raycevick

    I’m willing to play devil’s advocate to and wait to see how this turns out. I don’t think it will be a service that I’ll use but I can see the appeal to those that don’t already have all these games. I’ve got BF4 and Peggle 2 and Fifa and Madden don’t really interest me, but I know people who’s game collections aren’t the size of cathedrals that will appreciate this. Plus, the ability to try out games that you otherwise wouldn’t have paid money for is always a good thing in my book. It’s one of the main reasons why I often pick up Humble Bundles 🙂

  • aintwhatitlookslike

    I like my boxed games so well done Sony for having my back.
    ea and Microsoft belong together

  • Jeff Pee

    TBH I don’t think they’re being sneaky at all, it’s just business. By all indications it seems to have been creating some positive buzz for EA. The only issue I see it this: What if this service takes off? Don’t you think Activision or Ubisoft will want some of the subscription money? Is this the future… big pubs have their own individual subscription models. So now we’ll have XB-Live, PS+, EA Vault, Activision Chest, Ubisoft Crate (I know, lame names lol). $60, $50, $30, $30, $30… to have access to everything. Do you guys think this could be a possibility?

  • AlexH

    As far as the newly announced Ea Access, Sony said it did not accept the EA Access program because it felt it did not bring “good value”. That is bull! The PS Now is a freaking joke!!! With EA Access you pay 5 dollars a month and you have access to a bunch of games for unlimited time during that month. On the other hand with the PS Now you pay 5 dollars and you can only be play ONE GAME for 2 HOURS!!!! What a freaking joke!!!!

    And of course yesterday this announcement below was made from the sony Camp:

    • Jeff Pee

      Have they release PS Now already with final pricing? Because you’re angry like it’s launched and that’s the pricing. See this is the problem with some people on the internet, you guys are so quick to get Angry/Outraged over something that hasn’t even been released. Sony said they would be trying out different pricing models to see what people thought about them, they said this on the E3 stage.

      You don’t even have all the details of either service. Unlimited access to games that month… you get unlimited access during the Beta for gamers in the Beta.

  • jb227

    Great article. It’s obvious that this is not what people are thinking. The funniest part is the way people are misconstruing the terminology. They think they are getting access to a vault of EA games, but in actuality, the current 4 game selection is referred to as The Vault (note the capital letters) this is the name of the selection, not an allusion to a vast back catalog of EA titles. Guarantee this service will see no more than 4-5 games at a time, as new (as in almost a year old) games are added, older games will be taken off. There is also no chance the new titles see inclusion as they would have no need to mention that game saves will carry over from their demos. In a perfect world, EA could keep the same practice w/ new games but actually open a vault of older titles ported to these new consoles. It would be little cost to them but i think at the end of the day even that small cost of porting or emulating would be too much to ask of EA. I also don’t understand how people are faulting Sony for not allowing this “amazing” service when Sony is no doubt privy to all of these shady details that we aren’t. Thanks but no thanks, I don’t typically enjoy any of EA’s output, but they’d have to sweeten the pot quite a bit before I’d ever buy into something like this. Hopefully Sony comes up w/ a reasonable subscription price to put these kinds of things out of business. Streaming only works when players have access to a wide variety of different content across multiple genres & generations, otherwise it’s just a glorified gamefly.

  • In previous years, you paid $30 to get the sports games for 3 days early access and a weekly Ultimate Team card for the games you’re playing (HUT/MUT/FUT). I prefer the Ultimate Team modes to season in FIFA (although the online community was atrocious) and in NHL (although the game hasn’t changed much since NHL07 in terms of feel). So I felt that the price wasn’t bad for the content being given and coughed up $30 the past two years…

    This new EA Access had me excited at first, but then I thought about it and realized what it probably meant. I hope you still get your UT card packs, otherwise it’s just a 5 day early access rental for me – as I usually buy games that I want to play on day one and if that’s the case it may not be worth the $30 after all is said and done.

  • Dave Hurt

    I would consider myself a relatively hardcore gamer however, because EA (despite any personal views on the corporate attitude of the business) make good, but not great games, I can’t say I have purchased many of their games other than perhaps Need for Speed ones in the past. So to me, the Vault is great value to play a bunch of games I never would have paid for before. The problem it now presents to me is with a relatively new release like Dragon Age – I would like to buy this game but, on the basis it will eventually appear in the vault, I am trying to resist and focus on my backlog of other games instead… So, when this game does hit EA Access in another 6 months or so I will be very happy to play it… Only negative that is slightly bothering me about this service is that if EA only add 1-2 games per year to the Vault and let’s say I am not interested in any of them, am I then renewing my subscription just for access to the old games… will it eventually get to the point where I feel I have actually paid more by ‘renting the service’ each year to access the old games than it would have been to just have purchased a couple of these from the start?