EA, at the surprise of almost no one, chose to hop onto the Subscription train with EA Access, which offers the opportunity to get free games for five dollars a month. Even more curious is how EA Access is actually only available on the Xbox One, with Sony passing up the service entirely. The first four games that EA is offering up with their service are FIFA 14, Battlefield 4, Madden 25 and Peggle 2 which also happens to be their biggest selling franchises on any console, and is undoubtedly a juggernaut of a list for the publisher. While the first impressions of this service are strong, is there any guarantee that the games offered up will be relevant in the future? Meaning will EA willingly offer their biggest titles for free in their Vault closet to or on release day?
The answer is a pretty simple “absolutely not”, the first thing to note about each game offered initially through EA Access that’s not named Peggle 2 are behind a year. FIFA, Madden, and Battlefield have new titles releasing in only months, even weeks in the case of Madden, and there’s a stigma about playing the older version of a sports title if it’s not MVP Baseball 2005: roster updates mean a lot to people. New rosters and ratings may seem like a stupid thing to pay money for, but sports titles mean more when real life players are judged more accurately for the current time. Not to mention the servers for EA sports titles not lasting long for older iterations of games before ultimately pulling the plug, which brings up the Xbox Live Gold requirement, an elephant in the room. EA Access doesn’t require Xbox Live Gold but Microsoft’s own service is necessary for multiplayer features to be accessed. Aside from Peggle once again, the greatest parts of each game offered by the Vault has their best features tied to online play unless one is really excited for Battlefield 4’s single player storyline (no one like that exists).
Factoring in the cost of 5 dollars a month for the EA Access service, coming out to 60 dollars a year on top of the 60 dollars a year for Xbox Live Gold means 120 dollars a year to ensure getting the most out of EA titles, old or new. Sony has apparently already turned down EA’s service completely, deeming it “not a good value” which lumps it entirely onto the Xbox One. Sony has been the bearer of good judgment since this console generation kicked off last year, so their damning of EA Access makes one worried about the actual value of the service. Of course it’s far too early to make judgment call, but if the games offered are any indication it’ll act as a device to dump older games on consumers to keep them from purchasing a used title for half the price of retail, ensuring EA keeps them in their pocket. It’s a pretty fair prediction, since three quarters of the games offered already are heavily discounted in stores due to newer iterations being right around the corner.