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Why EA Access is the Best Value Out There
Posted on Monday, August 4 2014 @ 17:36:24 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

Here we go again. Electronic Arts, why do you constantly make it so easy to poke fun at you for dumb business moves. I mean, this whole EA Access thing looks…
 
Hmm… you know what, it is actually a pretty good deal. In fact, dare I say it, it is probably the best deal to come out for consoles in a long time. 
 
This is not a “project ten dollar” or the “season pass” shenanigans that people are decreeing it to be. Oh no, if you read the fine print you slowly realize that EA is saving you money in the long run, provided you take the leap and the service they offer is actually good. So much depends on it being really good, and having what you want, but there is a lot of value here.
 
That hasn’t stopped people from condemning it as another “enslavement” tactic. Once again criticizing the gaming as a service model that the gaming industry has been moving towards since Steam got popular, and Xbox Live became worth something. The standard cries of “its poor value” or “you are paying twice” being chief among them. Heck, even Sony got in on the act by stating: “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.”

Interesting choice of words, considering their own service model, PlayStation Now, is set to launch and may have a much more restrictive purchase schemes than what EA is offering, if reports are to be believed. Still, maybe Sony did see something in EA Access that is not readily apparent. Perhaps, behind the fine print presented, EA Access is another pointless service model that is doomed to fail. Let’s find out by looking at the three major points of EA Access and the possible pitfalls they may have.
 
The first and foremost thing to discuss is the pricing scheme. $4.99 for a month, or $29.99 for a year. For those who are doing the math, that is about $2.50 per month if you get the year subscription, which is half of the $5.00 price tag being offered. Since EA Access is only on Xbox One, the service would be a second charge on top of the Xbox Live account, presuming it is required to use EA Access. Combined with a year subscription of Xbox Live, if one was to purchase a year subscription for EA Access, it would be around $90.00 a year altogether, without Netflix or other services attached.
 
Now $90.00 seems like a lot for an entry fee, but if you actually break it down it’s pretty decent for a deal. The combined prices for the first four games in this beta equate to $142.00 all together, with Battlefield 4 and FIFA 14 being the lions share at $49.99 apiece. So you already are saving $52.00 off the bat, which is close to a full priced game on its own at $59.99. This is also if you have an Xbox Live Gold account. If EA Access is treated like an application, then your savings become $112 a month. 
 
The second aspect offered is the 10% discount on downloadable content. This includes DLC of course, but also full-fledged games which you can buy and play. So a fully priced title at $59.99 would become $54.00 before tax. $10.00 DLC would become $9.00 easily, while $12.00 games such as Peggle 2 would be priced at $10.00. The discount does offer a good bonus for consumers, provided they like downloading titles off of Xbox Live. Of course you need Live to fully take advantage of this discount. It may also become more lucrative if the games on Xbox Live that are discounted with the Games with Gold program further, stacking the two discounts for extra savings. Although that is just speculation at this time.
 
Finally, we have the trial access. Since EA is offering you trial runs of the game, chances are they would be complete versions of the game locked off, with a time stamp on it. Much like the demo to Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which gave you access to the in-game tutorial, the character creation mode, and an hour's worth of game time in the first area, I expect many of the early access trials to follow a similar pattern, with the difference being the ability to import saved data to the main game. 
 
The trial runs also provide a unique opportunity to do something that is still hard to accomplish, a complete game demo. The “try before you buy” mantra is very much still alive for many consumers, so the ability to actually play parts of the game, albeit for a limited time, is a very enticing offer. It removes the restrictions found in most demos out there, offering a taste of what is to come, much like a kiosk in a GameStop. The potential can be further augmented, though. For example, every team is unlocked for an Exhibition mode in Madden 15, and you can change the parameters of the game in the options menu, instead of recreating as the latest Super Bowl in 5 minute quarters. Such control for a game that usually doesn’t receive a demo online has a lot of potential. 
 
Now, there are some caveats. As mentioned, the pricing might be too steep for some people, and many of the scenarios presented are speculative, it honestly depends on how EA decides to approach them with the trial deals and the 10% discount. It is also a question of content, while there are four games and a bunch of DLC already available in their beta, the pickings are slim and favor fans of sports games over other genres, although if EA sticks with it we might see a large amount of games in their vault on the service. Plus, we still don’t know if it’s a rotating group of games that will be free each month, which is again similar to the Playstation Plus model of free games. We also don’t know if purchased, downloadable games from Xbox One are retained if you decide to cancel the service.
 
There is also one more, sort of intangible issue that is lingering as well, the “slippery slope” argument that is often made regarding gaming as a service. While access to games and downloading them are all fair positives, many feel, including myself, that the physical copies are valuable and more protected from EULAs. The “enslavement” argument being that the service model locks you into paying money for every aspect of the game, from the DLC to the release date, to what teams or characters you can play as. 
 
It is a legitimate concern, and we constantly see that negative in many instances. Asura’s Wrath, Dungeon Keeper for the iOS, Sims 4, Diablo III, and countless freemium games both on other services provide the proof of abused content and broken promises. The potential of EA Access being abused is there as well, and for many, the fact that it is EA doing this is enough to condemn the service before it's proven. As it is presented, however, it’s a good deal on good faith based upon the current pricing and the current savings received for their beta launch. 
 
Not to mention the final positive given, this is non-mandatory service. You don’t have to sign up for EA Access, and not doing so in the end is a choice the consumers can make. Unlike the “false choice” that poorly implemented season passes presented, EA is allowing the consumers to choose, and with Xbox One providing the service in the same way it provides Netflix and Hulu to consumers, EA has nothing to lose in testing out how successful it can be. 
 
So I have to disagree with Sony in the end. Contrary to what they believe, there is a lot of value here, or at least long term potential. If nothing else this benefits fans of the EA Sports titles the most, because it gives them access to their yearly purchases for the low price of $30.00, but over time EA Access might include more downloadable and new titles, much like the Origin library is today. It would also be a coup if EA allowed other big publishers into their service, although it is unlikely this will occur. 
 
For all the naysaying, though, at least right now, on paper, EA Access is one of the best service models you can get in gaming. This all of course heavily depends on your tastes in gaming, but once again, the choice is always in the consumer's hands.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted earlier in July 30, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan
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